“I can’t stay still. Ideas are constantly fusing in all directions. Sometimes it’s exhausting, especially for those around me.”
Cook Strummer is a busy man with a busy mind. During the day, he works as a producer for Berlin-based music tech company Native Instruments. At night, he spends his time either DJing in Berlin clubs or working on his own music.
“To channel this energy, I have processes and routines,” says the Belgian-born electronic musician, elaborating on his creative process. “I don’t work to templates. I love a white canvas. When I start a new project, it’s from zero. I usually spark the inspiration with a basic kick, vocals, and my guitar. Then I arrange and go as far as possible in the sound exploration with synths and drum machines. I then reduce and go to the essence of my track.”
Cook has been producing seriously since moving to Berlin to finish his master’s degree in 2013. With the city’s renowned club scene and creative culture, it was the perfect place for Cook to put roots down and work on his musical goals.
“Berlin was – and still is – for me an innovation pole, where people from all around the world share and create. Alternative cultures flourish constantly. It is still the case in my opinion. Belgium was too conservative for my musical ambitions, with all due respect.
“I even made a track about Berlin, singing about my love for the city and its people, called ‘For Berlin’. I always try to catch small inspirations and details when I go out to listen to friends playing, or just regular gigs at clubs.”
It seems that Cook’s mind never really leaves “creative mode”. He’s always watching. Always thinking. Always soaking up the world around him for inspiration and ingredients. For those who’ve known him for a long time, this will hardly come as a surprise. After all, creativity is in his blood.
“I come from a very artistically driven family. My Mum was a dancer; she danced in the video from my first album. My dad worked in the comic industry and in the movie industry with Spielberg. My grandparents, uncle, aunts, and brothers all play music, or at least have notions. I feel blessed I’ve had the opportunity to learn so many instruments and be surrounded by such a family.”
Although most of his family members display artistic sensibilities, he is the only one who has managed to make a living out of his passion. This has allowed him to be his true self and make connections with people who, you could say, have become a second family away from Belgium.
“It’s never been a strategy, but it has always been a dream to bound my professional background with my passion. I love music so much. Every day, all day since I was a child. I think it resonates with people I meet and work with. It has resulted in me travelling a lot as an artist and connecting with people from all around the world. People who share the same passion for music.”
While Cook’s music takes him around the world, it seems that he has found a forever home in Berlin. In addition to his role as producer at Native Instruments, he currently has gigs at the city’s Kater Blau and Sisyphos clubs. So, what’s it like in the Berlin club scene like right now?
“The scene is very well organised. There is not just one scene, but multiple scenes interacting with each other. It is hard to keep up sometimes. My job at Native Instruments allows me to keep my hands busy within the music field during the working hours.”
Given his musical commitments, it looks like Cook will be staying put in Berlin, but his mind will no doubt continue to move “in all directions”. The question now is, where will that mind take him musically? How will “Cooky Style” evolve in the coming years? Who knows, but maybe one day the Berlin music scene will be trying to keep up with him.