Jarvis Cocker in 2012. Photo by monophonic.grrrl via Wikimedia Commons.

“I actually wanted to be an astronaut and a pop star. I don’t know how I was going to combine the two careers.”

That dry wit, charm and a discography than spans 10 albums, both as a solo artist and as the frontman for Britpop legend Pulp, is among the reasons that has musician, actor, author and radio show host Jarvis Cocker has remained in the British limelight for four decades.

Cocker will be among the musicians in the spotlight during the 41st Mill Valley Film Festival in October, particularly as part of the festival’s series of MVFF Music shows at the Sweetwater Music Hall. Cocker is set to perform under the theme JARV IS on Oct. 6. His most recent album, Further Complications, was dubbed by Pitchfork upon its release in 2009 a “jutting, joking, hard-riffing jolt filled with raw self-deprecation.” 

“This is a guy who’s done almost all there is to do in rock – from toiling in the 1980s to exploding and then coming down with Pulp in the 90s – and, on Jarvis, he seemed ready to look back on a winning career with equal parts despair and whimsy,” Ryan Dombal wrote. “Despair because he’s a 40-something rock ‘n’ roller who’s smart enough to know what that can look like, and whimsy because he’s Jarvis Cocker.”

Best known as the frontman for acclaimed Britpop act Pulp, Cocker has been making music for two-thirds of his life, journeying from being the quintessential outsider to being one of the most recognized and cherished figures in British music. He has brought a rare, bookish wit to the pop charts, and cut an original dash in a rock ’n’ roll world dominated by reductive cliché.
Post-Pulp, Cocker has made contributions across the music, film, publication, and broadcasting spectrum, writing songs for Marianne Faithfull, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Nancy Sinatra, and Air, as well as writing three songs for, and briefly appearing in, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He also took part in the I’m Your Man tribute to Leonard Cohen around the globe. Since 2006, Cocker has embarked on a successful solo career, guest-edited the Observer Music Monthly, curated the Southbank Centre’s Meltdown Festival, and performed a duet with The Gossip’s Beth Ditto for the NME Awards. They covered fellow Sheffield band Heaven 17’s ‘Temptation’, which was later released to profit Shelter, a charity which battles homelessness.
In 2008, Jarvis premiered his lecturing skills with Saying The Unsayable, a talk about lyrics at the Brighton Festival. He repeated it at In The City later that year, just after returning from a two week long trip to the North Pole with Cape Farewell, an organization which takes a few select artists and scientists on a journey through the Arctic each year to see the affects of climate change firsthand. He also celebrated Rough Trade Records’ 30th anniversary with the Looking Rough at 30 tour and guest-edited BBC Radio 4’s prestigious Today program. In 2011, Cocker released a book of lyrics and commentary Mother, Brother, Lover.

The 411: Jarvis Cocker performs at the Sweetwater Music Hall on Saturday, Oct. 6 as part of the MVFF Music series during the 41st Mill Valley Film Festival, which runs October 4-14, 2018 at the CinéArts@Sequoia in Mill Valley, the Rafael Film Center in San Rafael and venues throughout the Bay Area. MORE INFO & TIX.
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