You should probably spend some time with Joesef this week


This is the kind of music you need in your ears right now.

Glaswegian mega babe Joesef is arguably the most promising new voice around. Actually, I’d say with certainty, he is.

The 24-year-old has only been singing for about a year, and he’s already racking up a growing list of accolades. He’s been compared to Amy Winehouse by pretty much everyone who’s written about him (which includes British Vogue and i-D UK). He’s been nominated for BBC’s prestigious ‘Sound of 2020’ prize,  and sold out his first-ever gig at the iconic Glasgow venue, King Tut’s.

He’s also been touted the ‘summer sad boy we didn’t know we needed’ which – if you listen to his latest track  ‘The Sun is up Forever’– rings about true.

His is the voice we want in our ears all weekend, so we spent a little time getting to know him.

How did you get into music? Did you always think you’d be a singer-songwriter?

Well, I was a bartender at the start of last year, then it all kind of kicked off. So no, I thought I’d be pulling pints for a while yet.

I went to an open mic with my mate who’s now my manager like three years ago and got up when I was out my mind. He was just like, ‘You can sing mate’. He wanted to get into the music business and saw potential in me that I didn’t really see myself, and here we are, not too shabby.

I’ve seen a lot of references to you as ‘2019/2020’s sad boy’. How do you feel about that? Are you a sad boy?

It doesn’t bother me, but I’d prefer party boy if we’re choosing.

And how do you feel about the Amy Winehouse comparisons? (Full disclosure: it was the first thing I thought of when I first heard ‘Loverboy’, which is also my favourite song of the past year.)

The Amy thing kind of freaked me out at first, because she’s such an iconic figure. But I guess it can only be a good thing. Her music is timeless and she’s one of the best writers of music ever seen, I think. It could be worse — they could have been comparing me to Mr Blobby or something.

Speaking of ‘Loverboy’, I read that the song came about in a period of many hangovers. It’s such a nice song for curing hangover anxiety, was that your intention at all?

Yeah, I was drinking a lot and writing at the same time, so it kind of just occurred in that way. I’m glad you feel that way ’cause that song to me is kind of me on my knees, basically. So it’s good to get something positive out of a shit situation.

What inspired ‘The Sun Is Up Forever’?

The tune is about how relationships kind of hollow you out. It originated from a convo with my mum about how my dad treated her badly, and it’s taken her nearly 20 years to finally come back from it. It was pretty fucked up, but it’s just about getting to the other side of a dark period in life, really.

What’s your songwriting process generally, and with regards to this track?

I usually write about stuff that’s pissing me off or that I can’t stop thinking about. I don’t really let many people in, so writing helps me digest a lot of shit I can’t articulate that way. This tune kind of just fell out me. It was done in two hours — most of the best ones are finished pretty quickly, I think.

Your debut EP Play Me Something Nice is about the breakdown of the relationship with your ex-boyfriend – does it feel weird to have those experiences shared with the world?

Kind of. It’s weird ’cause half the stuff I’ve written I probably wouldn’t even admit to myself, but here I am singing it to loads of people. I just always wanted to be as honest as possible.

Which of the tracks is the most personal, would you say?

‘Play Me Something Nice’ always gets me a bit ’cause I sound quite sad in the recording. It’s quite ‘to the bone’ for me personally ’cause I’m addressing the person directly. Fuck knows though… They’re all very personal.

Who are your musical heroes?

I love Al Green, A Tribe Called Quest, The Mamas & The Papas, Chet Baker… I still listen to them every day. I love Tyler, The Creator and Kendrick and Loyle Carner as well.

How do you think growing up in Glasgow shaped your approach to music?

Glasgow is just full of life all the time and we, as a people, are very open and honest and passionate about everything. I think that helps in writing music ‘cause there’s no frills or graces — just ‘get in, say what you need to say and get out’ type of thing.

How are you coping with social isolation? Any tips?

I live alone so it’s been a bit difficult, just planning days and getting up early and exercising. Speaking to mates and trying to write loads – but I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. Everybody is in the same boat, so I’m just trying to stay afloat ’til it’s all over.

Could you share something about yourself that you’ve never told anyone before?

I’ve not worn any underwear the past few weeks. I’m trying to see how long I can go without it and enjoying it so far. I’m feeling liberated in lockdown, to be honest.

 ‘The Sun is up Forever’ drops today via AWAL. Stream it here.

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