Radical Face 10:15
Somewhere beyond our own world, there is a place where young girls sleepwalk on water, forest witches heal the sick, and an age old family has the power to communicate with the dead. It is here, among the twisted trees and abandoned factory towns, that the music of Radical Face makes its home, a realm where phantasmagoria and fables become one. It’s a universe created by multifaceted musician Ben Cooper, who crafts albums like an author writes a tome, extolling subtle Southern Gothic and magic realist tales with a soundtrack of jangling guitar,layered strings, and syncopated rhythms.
The Jacksonville, Florida native embarked on a series of “Family Tree” albums, which trace the fantastical lives of a 19th century family, whose blood flows with special abilities that range from seeing spirits to bringing the dead back to life. Their secrets bind them together, a warm flame held against a harsh world.
While the stories of Radical Face take place in an alternate reality, Cooper’s real life has been tumultuous. Growing up in an interracial family of 10 in the South, they dealt with racism firsthand. When he came out to his parents at 14, he was kicked out of his home and worked full time while going to high school. With a fractured family, Cooper found a home in music. “A lot of us got into music because we were outcasts in a southern town. A lot of friends let me stay on their couches if I needed. I joined five bands, some with instruments I didn’t know how to play. That’s how I learned everything I play now; by not wanting to be home. It’s a good crash course, though. Join a band as a drummer when you’ve got a show in three weeks and you learn quick.”
“It’s my life, but I wrap it in fiction,” he says. “I’ve always been guilty of using music as a therapy. Because with music, you can take something ugly or hard and can turn it into something pretty. You can force it to become something that it never intended. Even with the saddest things, you can make them beautiful.”