Skye Cooper an aspiring and talented newcomer to the music scene has a varied and powerful story to tell. One of her most brilliant riffs has roots in her transition and the other her experience as a Royal Engineer in Afghanistan. Her first song “‘Never Met a Monster’ is about her internal struggle coming to terms with her femineity.
Skye explained, “The line ‘Never met a monster quite like this’ was inspired by the fact that my brain both had this overwhelming desire to express itself as female, and an immobilising fear of doing so and what that would mean.”
“Transitioning has been a really slow and deliberate process for me. I’d say it has been a case of really trying to find out what is ‘me’ and what parts of me are just social conditioning. I began transitioning about 2 years ago after I finally decided to talk to a gender therapist and its been difficult at times to get over some of the anxiety that comes from completely reworking your life. That said the more I’ve transitioned the happier I’ve become and the more I’ve realised I really needed to do it, said Skye.
Skye’s second riff featured today “Weapons Of Mass Persuasion” is about the horrific slaying of a fellow soldier by the Taliban, the bullying that persuaded Royal Marine Scott McLaren to walk out of the relative security of his base, alone at 2 am to purportedly search for a piece of gear lost during a patrol.
The family claim that McLaren was subject to abuse and bullying for being quiet, shy, and an outsider. When he left the base in July 2011, he packed all his possessions into his kit bag and “snuck past” the guards. Hours before he left, he had been seen in tears studying a map of the district. The family also said that his military friends have told them that he was being bullied.
McLaren’s father, James, said that the truth was inconvenient for the army; pointing out that if his son could get out of the base undetected, someone could get in. He also said that the typical wait for a service family to have an inquest into a death would be two years; his son’s inquest came after only 5 months.
“When I was writing the song I remembered about him,” said Skye. “I never saw the news at the time because I was in Afghan too. But when I remembered my thought was ‘how the hell did they report that in the UK?’ and when I looked it made me mad because there was foul play.”
“The song is about doublespeak,” Skye explained, “speech that sounds on the surface to mean one thing, but actually means another. It’s a technique used by people in positions of power designed to absolve responsibility, evoke a reaction or change opinions.”
“The second verse contains the coroner’s statement on the death of a soldier serving in Afghanistan under suspicious circumstances. I was serving at the time and was also in theatre, when Scott went missing it became clear from the information coming through from colleagues that there was a problem with bullying in that unit.”
A friend commented “I remember that they got a bollocking from a fullscrew about looking after their kit because someone lost something. Then he lost his nvg’s I believe it was on a patrol. He was too scared to tell his section commander so went out on his own to look for them.”
“There was a clear accusation that Scott had been pressured by his superior into leaving camp to find a piece of equipment he had lost and this resulted in his horrific death. All of this was covered up by the people involved and they refused to give details of what actually happened before Scott walked off. The coroner’s report shows, to me at least, the way that officials would rather absolve responsibility than look for the truth of what happened in an investigation,” said Skye.
As a way of appreciating Skye Cooper’s versatility here is a short acoustic set recorded for trans radio UK during this year’s virtual pride weekend.
Skye Cooper will be releasing an EP August first.