With his dreadlocks, goatee beard, and Rasta hat, neo-soul singer/songwriter JP Cooper looked a bit like a white version of Bob Marley, a resemblance his label Island Records (with whom Marley had spent most of his career) surely did nothing to discourage. John Paul Cooper was born and brought up in Manchester in the north of England. Initially a keen sportsman, he switched to music in his teens after falling in love with grunge, teaching himself to play guitar, and forming a rock band while still at school. Later he discovered soul music via artists like Donny Hathaway and Ben Harper, and explored this style by joining a gospel choir. Working in a bar, he started to write his own songs, romantic in tone, with powerful emotional and social lyrical content. He began his recording career in 2012 with a trilogy of numbered, self-released EPs.