Press play and get two-stepping to this sophisticated playlist consisting of ska, soul, jazz, hip-hop and alternative tracks.
“I have always found it quite hard to communicate with people. This was heightened by the vacuum of my environment growing up, where I had to hide my feelings, especially as a Queer person. Music became my outlet to exercise that part of myself I never thought I could articulate in a meaningful way.”
Glasgow artist, Joesef, believes that truthful reflection of personal experience is at the core of a musician’s artistry. Growing up in a household where there was never a moment of silence— the heart-warming melodies of Al Green, The Mamas & the Papas, and the Cure always playing in the background—making his own music followed somewhat naturally. As a self-taught artist and producer, he released his first EP, Play Me Something Nice in 2019, followed by Does It Make You Feel Good. The wistful lamentations overlayed with sparkly pop-beats took audiences by storm—culminating in the upcoming release of his debut album, Permanent Damage this month.
For FF Mixtape #185, Joesef curated a playlist of old-time favorites and new releases that he has been listening to recently.
How has Joesef evolved as an artist?
I have always loved music and never really cared about anything else. But at the time, it was not a career path I thought I could take. Where I am from, there is no money, so it felt like felt like in order to be in the music world you had to know somebody. I used to produce exclusively in my bedroom by plugging my guitar into my laptop—absolutely cowboying everything I did in a really shit way. After moving to London, I moved out of the bedroom and into a studio. It’s been a bit of a jump between my EPs and album, but I feel l my production is way better, well, I fucking hope so.
East End Coast is a nostalgic love letter to your hometown. How did Glasgow’s cultural and music scene influence and shape your music?
Glasgow is a very colorful place with no bullshit. It was known as this vacuum of hyper masculine violence when I was growing up, but I think that people forget to mention that there is a massive sense of community and love in Glasgow. This has definitely affected my music in terms of being honest. When I listen to artists, I want to believe what they are saying. In Glasgow, you have to be yourself or nothing else, which is reflected in the way I write.
You started as a bedroom singer, producing and writing all of your music. What prompted you to share it with the ‘outside world’?
It was always the plan. I had the drive to share my music with people. Luckily I had the support of my managers, who would tell me if something was shit or not. When it got to the time that I started kicking the ball, it was a bit scary because, when you write stuff in your bedroom, you feel like nobody is going to hear it. You admit things to yourself that you would never admit to a room of strangers.
Your lyrics are incredibly raw and personal, covering stories of heartbreak and trauma. How do you feel after you share that with a live audience?
Music is such a visceral experience, it’s like when you smell the aftershave of someone you used to be with—it teleports you back. When performing my songs every night, I learn to deal with reliving past experiences.The idea of heartbreak really interests me—it’s a universal mundane feeling that makes people so creative. For me, it’s important to deliver the feelings of heartbreak in an uplifting way. I was brought up on Motown watching glamorous women dancing with their hair done up and singing about men who had wronged them. I have always been attracted to that sentiment of happy-sad and the juxtaposition of these emotions.
“Music is such a visceral experience, it’s like when you smell the aftershave of someone you used to be with—it teleports you back.”
What’s the concept behind Permanent Damage?
The album charts the beginning, middle, and ending story of my past relationship and how it affected me indefinitely. It was called something else for a long time, and I never really liked the working title. I was at a party and there were loads of cigarette packets everywhere, with the phrase ‘smoking causes permanent damage’. The phrase had a ring to it, and I think when I saw it, it summed up the album’s theme for me.
What album inspires you?
My Woman by Angel Olson. She uses her voice to make you feel how she wants you to feel. It’s fucking mad how she changes it all the time. I also love the production of it. When I broke up with my ex, I would close the curtains, turn the TV off and listen to the entire album.
Do you have a song or album that you’re always returning to?
Carole King, Tapestry. I love the texture of the album. I feel like when I heard ‘It’s Too late’, I was transported to sitting in bed in the morning with a partner, feeling like something has changed. I feel like that is such a needlepoint precision description of how it feels when you know it’s over, but you’re still with them.
Finally, how did you select the tracks for this mixtape?
It’s a list of tracks that I have been listening to either forever or for the last few weeks. It changes all the time. Honestly, give me a brief, and I can make you a playlist. I’ve got a playlist for every mood or setting: cooking, I can’t be arsed or getting off my face. There truly is a playlist for every mood.
Joesef is a singer and producer from Glasgow. Coming to the forefront of the scene in 2019 with his debut EP, Play Me Something Nice; he has continued to produce a stream of EPs from Does It Make You Feel Good and Just Come Home With Me Tonight. On the 13th of January, he is set to release his much anticipated debut album, Permanent Damage. This will ensue with a European tour in March. Head over to the link to get your tickets!
You can follow Joesef to keep updated with new releases, events and performances.
Interview and Text: Isabelle Moulding