Bio: Dan Cooper is a graphic designer, dj, poet and one half of Gloucestershire’s Experimental Electronica and Spoken Word duo Brown Torpedo. He lives in a bungalow in Cheltenham with his dog, a parrot and two rats.

Brown Torpedo

Photo curtesy of Shelby Tree Photography

At around age 14, a couple of friends and I somehow got into ambient dance act The Orb at school, and really threw ourselves into it – listening to cassettes of either ‘Adventures Beyond The Ultra World’ or ‘U.F.Orb’ almost nightly and drawing the band’s logo in the margins of our maths books. I would try and produce my own zoned-out music by pasting sounds on top of one another in the Windows Sound Recorder. I remember a section of ‘Last Human’, a Red Dwarf novel, which I really liked and recorded myself reading it over the top of some of my efforts. I’m glad I’ve lost that tape as it would probably sound terrible… …although probably not a million miles away from what Brown Torpedo sound like today.

I had always liked hip hop. The Ghostbusters 2 rap, ‘T.U.R.T.L.E. Power’. I particularly came to relish the albums I would have to hide from my mum – Cypress Hill’s ‘Black Sunday’ and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s ‘Doggystyle’ (the first two CDs I ever bought). Timbalands work with Missy Elliot came a bit later, but was also something I used to listen to aLOT. Her first two albums are classics. Timbaland’s 1998 ‘Tim’s Bio: Life From Da Bassment’ was also a big influence once I’d got my head around it.

Academic progress at college and university became completely hi-jacked by an obsession with music. In particular Beck, who is still a favourite of mine now. Getting obsessed with Beck was like a gateway drug, Johnny Cash, James Brown, Prince, Aphex Twin, the gates were flung wide open.

My first band ‘proper’, Puppy Bucket & Donny Choonara, definitely drew on the influence of Beck and hip hop, egged on by UK hip hop (particularly from the Bristol area, Aspects, Fleapit, Parlour Talk), the emerging grime scene and the bedroom production ethics of the first album by The Streets – ‘Original Pirate Material’, also the ridiculousness of Squarepusher and Aphex Twin, elements of which we would throw into the mix usually just to amuse each other.

In PBDC, we had always improvised, usually late at night, in varying states of intoxication. My then partner in crime, Andrew (now the bassist in Thrill Collins) would play the guitar and we would both sing or rap, we would then speed up the recording and fall about laughing. After a while we would come together with the rest of our ‘label roster’ and group improvise, playing whatever was at hand – from Didgeridoos to Violins, drunkenly freestyling, beat boxing and yodelling.

In the band Ion Whistle with my friend Mark a couple of years ago, he got me more into liking black metal, doom metal and noise. Noise-wise, I’d always been kind of into Einsturzende Neubauten and bits of Whitehouse, I’d dipped my toe in Merzbow but didn’t realise how huge or prolific he was and hadn’t come across great acts like Wolf Eyes, Prurient or Black Dice yet, which I now really, really dig. Black Dice can take me back to the days of listening to The Orb on my walkman. I have since got into a lot more free improvisation stuff, whereas ten years ago I would just laugh at it because I didn’t understand it. I now think that sometimes you’re not supposed to understand it; it can be more primal or expressional. It’s the same with Noise music.

Now it’s the internet which has pulled my mind’s thumb out of the hole in the dam. Websites like and the Free Music Archive, as well as bands like Radioactive Sparrow (who have been throwing themselves into freeform mind-spasms for over 30 years now) are absolute treasure and I owe a debt to the net for these revelations.

On the more poetry side of things, Ginsberg and the beat poets have been of great inspiration to Brown Torpedo. At the start, fearing that we were somehow ‘doing poetry wrong’ we were reassured once we heard Ginsberg’s hardcore ‘Please Master’ or even read through the famous ‘Howl’ properly. Before then we would just sit in the pub with a notebook not really knowing what these things were that we were writing. We were scared to call it poetry, but they weren’t song lyrics and they weren’t rap lyrics. So now we’ve decided it is ‘poetry’, as much as anything can really be called poetry.

Discovery of Bob Cobbings sound poetry and things like the Burroughs and Gysin cutups have also seasoned our veg. Seeing videos of Marcel Duchamp or Hans Bennink on the internet, the rabbit hole gets deeper the more you poke around. I feel constantly rewarded. If I’d have felt this way about my subjects at uni, the grades would have been very different. My iTunes is now a sprawling mass of Dial-A-Poets, Lydia Lunch, Klaus Nomi, Xenakis… I wish I had bothered exploring more when I was younger… although I should have been studying anyway…

To find out more about Dan and his artistic endeavours go to: