INTERVIEW: Joesef

Joesef has been introducing himself to the world with a honest selection of tracks that boldly combine vulnerable layers, pure heart and sultry authentic sonics together.

Already gaining comparisons to the likes of Amy Winehouse, Sam Smith and Rex Orange County, his chilled out stylings have drawn listeners in just like how the sun creeps into your room in the early hours of the morning. 

His debut EP ‘Play Me Something Nice’ certified his status as the Glaswegian newcomer to watch while he opened up to the world about his first relationship with a man in the most vulnerable, emotional and real way possible. 

His new single ‘The Sun Is Up Forever’ is another breath of fresh air. Soaking itself in a dreamy aesthetic, the song finds a unique home somewhere between the production stylings of Tame Impala and Matt Corby. 

The soothing harmonies that collide during the dreamy melody is something that feels very angelic and adds a gospel-like layer to the sound. But at it’s core there is a deeper and emotional story behind it about how relationships can alter you. 

I recently chatted to Joesef about the natural creative process behind ‘The Sun Is Up Forever’, opening up about his sexuality through the raw lyrical content of his debut EP ‘Play Me Something Nice’ and reflected on some memories from his recent sold out UK and European tour.  Check it out BELOW; 

THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘The Sun Is Up Forever’ is a beautiful and dreamy track that is layered by an emotional core and summery tones. So how did the whole creative process for this track come together?

JOESEF: So I was actually supposed to put out another song, and I wasn’t really that happy with it, I hated the song. 

I had a pretty bad break up at the start of the year and I went to my mums house and we had a long chat about relationships and emotions. As soon as I came home after that chat I just wrote this song from start to finish. 

I didn’t really put much thought into it, and I feel like that’s when the best songs happen. But I feel like I kinda woke up out of that dream-like state at the end of the song and was like “oh, I really like this. I should put this out instead”. I told my managers that I wanted to put this song out instead and they were immediately on board and told me this was one of the best songs I’ve written, so here we are *laughs*. 

There really wasn’t much thought process throughout it, it was kinda just like cleaning out the closet. 

TB: Was it one of the quickest songs you’ve made?

J: Out of all the songs I’ve made I feel like it was made in a similar way to ‘Limbo’ and ‘Play Me Something Nice’. It was just done in two hours and felt right, so then they came out. I feel like that’s the best way for me to make music. 

I’ve heard of people spending months and months on one track and that sounds like torture to me. I get bored quite easily and my brain is wired to the minute, so I can’t get too in my head about something. 

TB: Well on the other side of that, is there a song that did take a little bit longer for you and you had to push through that agitation?

J: ‘Kerosene’ was probably the longest time I’ve spent on a song. It started off as guitar ballad and then I put the drums behind it and then added the bass, and it turned into this really sexual song *laughs*. 

That kinda evolved while I sat and lived with the song. I felt like a lot of my songs were quite sad so I wanted to make something that referenced having a good time with a person instead of crying alone in your bedroom. 

TB: This track is a bit of an introspective moment as it reflects on the tumultuous relationship your mother had with your father and looks at it from her perspective while also reflecting on how your own relationship with your dad has been affected. So I can imagine there was quite a bit of emotions in your family surrounding releasing this song? Did you have any concerns of how people in your inner circle would receive it?

J: My dad passed away when I was younger. Everyone loved my dad because he was charismatic and handsome, but he was also a pure bastard behind the scenes, and my family knew that but everyone else didn’t see that side of him. 

But no one really had qualms about me putting this song out. I asked my mum if she was okay with me putting it out and explained the concept, and she gave me her blessing and honestly seemed more excited that I wrote a song about her *laughs*. 

It’s one of those things that I haven’t really talked to my mum about in depth before. There’s a lot of  correlations to that sort of relationship with any relationship that isn’t good for you. The more you put into it, the longer it will affect you for. Like it’s been twenty years since my mum and dad and she still thinks about him and catches her breath because she’s still a little frightened. 

I feel like relationships change you forever no matter how long, how horrible or how good the end is. I think it’s so interesting how people can effect you for the rest of your life. 

TB: You already gained sonical comparisons to the likes of Amy Winehouse, Sam Smith and Rex Orange County. So who or what were some references for ‘The Sun Is Up Forever’ and your other recent single ‘Think That I Don’t Need Your Love’

J: I didn’t really think about the references for these songs. But I think ‘The Sun Is Up Forever’ is quite a indie song. The guitar lead reminds me of The Cure, who are one of my favourite bands. But it also had quite a pop end to it. 

But ‘Think That I Don’t Need Your Love’ was a little more old school vibe with the drums.

What do you kinda feel when you listen to the songs?

TB: Well to me, ‘The Sun Is Up Forever’ feels like a summer song that would play during the sunset part of a evening when you’re feeling really reflective and moody.  

J: Oh, yes! It something that I could definitely imagine playing in Ibiza during sunset when everyone’s chilling and getting drunk before they go home to get ready to go out that night. 

TB: Your debut EP ‘Play Me Something Nice’ is a very emotional, honest and unique affair in it’s own right, so what would you say is the most vulnerable moment on the EP for you? 

J: Probably the title song ‘Play Me Something Nice’. I sing that sometimes and still get choked up. When I listen to the vocals from that song I can hear the pure sadness, as I was really sad as fuck when I wrote it. 

That song is about when you know the relationship is finished but you still want them to come over to your house and fuck about because you don’t want it to be over. That’s like pure desperate times. 

I’m addressing the person directly in the song so I can actually see the person it’s about when I’m singing the song, so that’s always a little rough. 

I feel like that song will always kinda get to me because I will always remember how fucked I was at the time. 

TB: The EP was a beautiful reflection on the ups and downs of your first relationship with a man. How did it feel to let go of that part of your life and share it so openly with the world in your first body of work? 

J: It wasn’t really a conscious effort, I was just writing about shit that was happening at the time. I’m very lucky to be releasing music in a time where it is alright to be open and there’s no one telling me I have to hide the subject matter and pro-nouns. 

I don’t think I would ever care what someone thinks as that’s just the kind of person I am. I’m from Glasgow and everyone is so honest and passionate, so as soon as you start bullshitting everyone is like “fuck off” So I just wanted to be honest. 

The music I love is pure and honest as fuck. So I was really writing it for myself.

TB: As an openly bisexual man in alt-pop music have you felt accepted into the LGBTQI+ community as an artist because sometimes there can be a feeling of disclusion of Bisexuality? 

J: I don’t really know hey. I don’t really think about it that much which I think is really good thing. I haven’t come up against anyone that is disapproving or said anything bad because I do feel like the time we are living in, and the time I’m releasing music in, is so accepting of whoever you are. 

TB: Reflecting on the journey between creating this EP and where you are now artistically with this forthcoming new music, what would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself as an artist? 

J: Probably to trust my instincts and to not doubt myself because I do feel like I spend a lot of time questioning myself. Like, I make my music in my room and in my living room. I’m not in a fancy studio. I’m making music where I watch TV, so I constantly think my music isn’t good enough because of that which isn’t true. 

TB: You embarked on some huge sold out show last year in the UK/Europe. What was one of the funniest or weirdest things that happened on the road?

J: We honestly just got so fucked up the whole time *laughs*. It was purely other worldly experiences we were having. We were in Paris after a show drinking champagne on a rooftop and the Eiffel Tower was in front of us and everyone was smoking cigarettes. It was crazy. I felt like I was in a French arthouse movie *laughs*. So that was a pretty special memory. 

We also had in-ears for the first time, and in Amsterdam my drummers in-ears stopped working during the last song. It was a sold out show, and we were all panicking but she just played the whole song without being able to hear the band. We messed up a few cues but we were all laughing and it was fun. 

I will probably not drink as much next time because by the time we got to London, which was a huge show, I was haggard *laughs*. That show was a turning point actually because that was the first time the crowd were singing every song, and every lyric back to me. I don’t really get emotional on stage but that was a moment. 

TB: I have to ask, any plans to finally come to Australia after this pandemic? 

J: Oh I would fucking love to! As soon as things clear up I wanna come back over there! I travelled there when I was a bit younger and the Australian girls were crazy and so much fun *laughs*. 

‘The Sun Is Up Forever’ is out now!