Jarvis Cocker. Does the man ever sleep?
At 15, he made his first strides with Pulp, peppering Sheffield with smart pop. He was hatching the skeletal contours of what the group would one day become best known for. By ‘94, the band had broken Britain. Tracks like ‘Common People’ and ‘Mis-Shapes’ gained the five-piece huge commercial success. To most, it’s Pulp that Cocker’s best known for. But this is a man with plenty more up his sleeve.
Throughout the years, Cocker has become connoisseur of the obscure side project. Aside from Pulp and his own solo career, there are few industries within the arts that the man’s left unfurnished. Some are more curious than others. Of course, Cocker has collaborated with other musicians. There’s an ever-spooling pool of names, including the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Nancy Sinatra and Marianne Faithfull, that Cocker has performed with and written for. But he’s also dipped his pen and inked his mark in publishing, film, performance art, TV, festival curation and radio broadcasting. It’s a lengthy list that keeps on giving. Currently, Cocker has five projects on the go. Here’s a guide:
Circulating the mysteries and myths of LA’s Chateau Marmont hotel, Cocker recently released an album (March 17) all about the institution’s most infamous suite. Co-written with composer Chilly Gonzales, the twosome are touring ‘Room 29’ on stage as a theatre production. Theatre-goers are welcomed with their own room keys on arrival by a concierge. As Cocker asks the audience what they’d like from room service, he orders The Kaiser Quartett; a string piece from Hamburg that’ll beat your hamburger request any day of the week. Laying down the setlist, Cocker lays down in bed. And as you totter through the hotel’s towering tales of mischief and misery, you’re left swooning in an urge to swan around Los Angeles.
Collaborating with Feist
Co-written by Brian LeBarton, Jarvis Cocker and Feist, ‘Century’ is the Canadian singer’s second single from her forthcoming ‘Pleasure’ album. Led by narcoleptic lulls and a bare beat, Feist’s distant vocals are in a world of their own. “Who will lead you to someone, who will lead you to love one at the end of the century,” the singer pines until the song cuts out, seemingly to its end. There’s a five second pause, then it’s your mate Jarv, doing what he does best: Breathily exhaling lines of longing, he converts raw emotion into quantitative coos. “A century. How long is that? Three billion, one hundred and fifty-five million, nine hundred and seventy-three thousand, six hundred seconds… Almost as long as one of those endless, dark nights of the soul. Those nights never end.” Just yes.
‘This Book is a Song’
Cocker has also just recently signed a £100,000 book deal, with the prospect of writing a publication about creativity. Entitled ‘This Book is a Song,’ it’s expected to include photos, illustrations, essays and biographical glimpses into the performer’s life. Penguin Random House, Macmillan and Faber and Faber have all expressed interest in publishing the book.
6 Music’s Sunday Service
You may be familiar with this one already. He’s been at it since January 2010; hoovering up that hangover of yours through the medium of radio broadcasting, each and every Sunday between 4 and 6pm on BBC Radio 6 Music. Eccentrically eclectic, it’s a mish-mash of deep cuts and interviews with unlikely guests, including a Furby and Brian Eno. “I’m gonna put the boredom back into Sundays. That’s my manifesto,” he promises 6 Music listeners.
“Jarvis Cocker explores the human condition after dark with stories of night people,” synopsise BBC Radio 4, while explaining the series. Vague and elusive this description may be, but it’s about as detailed as you can actually get when summing up his other radio pursuit. This is because each episode of Wireless Nights is so uniquely different from the last. March 2017 saw Cocker commence his fifth series of the programme. During the series, Cocker’s visited The Master Musicians of Joujouka in Morocco on a quest to “heal his own troubled mind,” using the collective’s Sufi trance music as his cleanser. He’s also explored London’s Night Tube from the driver’s carriage and he’s immersed himself in Berlin’s club scene, exploring stories from Iggy Pop and swinger club night specialists. As you do.