Interview and words by @tannytlou
I’m woken up by the sun piercing through venetian blinds on a cold morning. Today, I’m doing nothing and the thought of this excites me. I put a playlist on to set the scene for my morning, preferably something soulful, calming, and healing. JoshuaKYEOT’s voice sets the scene for where my imagination will go. Only One begins to play, and I notice detail in the lyrics. I’m moved, and because of this; I become her. My mind drifts in and out of the scenes created and I think this is what I need; music that allows me to escape. I think to myself I can’t wait to find out how he formulates his lyrics. Joshua’s voice is perfect for such moments; offering a pleasant backdrop to a long drive or a morning of relaxation but for me, most importantly, listening to his music live, over a glass of red wine, surrounded by beautiful souls embracing the aptness of the night, where the distractions fade out and the bass of his voice becomes prominent, is what I look forward to. I spoke to JoshuaKYEOT about his craft and journey whilst taking his photos; I was inspired to continue being empathetic to my surroundings so I too can flourish in my creative journey. An artist who pays attention to people, his journey and social surroundings in order to write with great precision.
I'll begin with the first question. How would you describe yourself to someone who is yet to listen to your music?
I’d describe it as music. I tend to not try to explain it because I feel like then I’m telling you something, and giving you loads of information that won’t mean anything. I’ve always said this; I prefer for you to go and listen to it, and then you can come and tell me what it is. And whatever you say, that’s what it is. But if I had to; it’s “Alt-Soul”. Alternative Soul. A blending of rhythm and blues and rock’n’roll.
With that being said, who are your musical influences, along with general influences?
Ok, dope. So musical influences is another thing I don’t fully like to say it because I feel people will get bogged down on that a little too much. But I feel like I can give you the basics. People that made me want to do music are the obvious ones, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Sisqo. Those three I remember clearly listening to and feeling like “this makes me feel something”. But to add to those names, Paramore. I’m classically trained, I’ve had to listen to the likes of Beethoven or Gershwin, to get me to where I am now and I kind of site the things I learnt in those lessons when I was learning about the base lines. I site those when I am writing my music because they count as influences as well and I don’t want to leave them out. To add to that; there’s So Solid Crew, let’s not act like 21 seconds wasn’t a moment. Fabulous too, I’m super into hip-hop. I listened to the likes of 50 cent when I was a teenager. SWV from my sister. Paramore is the first CD I purchased for myself with my money. Kelly Clarkson, I love.
You play the acoustic guitar. Tell me about your journey with guitars. What role does that play in your music?
Ok, it’s funny that you say acoustic guitar. I don’t play it as much as I did. I did start playing acoustic guitar but I never owned a good one. When I was 17 years old, my friend taught me how to play a few chords. By then I knew how to play piano, but I wanted to do open-mics so I figured as well that guitars are easier to carry around so let’s learn how to play. I’d always been interested. I started playing when I was 17 and when I went to uni someone gave me an electric guitar. I just thought this is it, and I’ve played it ever since. For the most part I like playing electric and the versatility of electric guitars is good.
When you think electric, subconsciously you associate it with a different style. You make it sound like your own. So that’s good because I would’ve assumed it’s an acoustic but that’s because you give it that soulful feel, it’s different.
Let’s talk about some of your music and what you do with it. I’ve listened to Hooked on You, and Only One. I’m a lover of your lyrical ability. I feel sometimes a great voice can mask out the lyrical content of a song but you were very creative with Only One from the get go and along with the new one (Playground Sweethearts). Tell me about the process of writing.
Thank you I appreciate that a lot. I consider myself a decent lyricist because I used to rap and that was the thing, you had to be on point with bars. The process with lyrics is that I sit down and do it. I don’t think I have that much of a process. I like to know what I’m talking about. I usually hum, mumble and play something. I always want to be able to say what I wanna say in a clever way. But sometimes I want it to hit home. I want to get the point across.
Because your song lyrics are so detailed, are they based on experience or imagination?
A bit of both. I feel the idea isn’t necessarily for me to always tell you my stories. Novels are not necessary based on one person’s life. I feel like we have movies, other people being creative and there are different things we can draw from other people’s lives. You could tell me a story today and I might feel it because I’m empathetic. I might not have experienced it but I can cry with you, I can laugh with you if it’s funny. It’s because I relate. Sometimes it’s from my imagination, or I’ll imagine what other people are going through and then sometimes it’s from me. I think it’s a bit of both.
What is the process of production in terms of your beats?
Alright so, I’ve worked with a producer for this coming EP. The producer brings it to light. When I wrote these songs and when I write, I have an idea of the arrangements because I produce in my mind, I arrange the instrumentation in my mind, I just don’t use software. I have a clear idea of how I want it to sound and what the instrumentation should be, then I’ll give that idea to the producer and he adds all of his expertise to whatever it is that I bring. We then bring it together to make it what it is.
I’m going to ask you some questions about you, your view on life so that we can get to understand you more, why you might formulate your craft in the way you do. I’m going to give you existential topics in the form of words, questions, and I need you to create stanzas based on your response. You have 20 seconds for each.
Where do we go, after we die?
We go where we go
I hope it is heaven
A place you can’t buy your way in
What is more important, the means or the end?
The means is the end
The end is the means
The end never comes
What is our biggest mistake as human beings?
Sometimes it’s tough to do this thing
But our biggest mistake is not not loving enough
What is the true meaning of love?
I’m a bit funny on this but this is just something I’m thinking about. I feel like love is faith, love is sacrifice, love is patience. Love is us.
Galatian’s 5:22. You’ve just quoted the bible without knowing. I love that.
Where is your safe haven?
My bedroom, it’s where I do most of my writing.
What do you aim to achieve from your journey with music?
Living as JoshuaKYEOT. That’s who I am, this is what it is. To live my life.
What’s your greatest fear?
Do you listen to your own music? If so what’s your favourite song?
I like Hooked on You a lot. I think I did interesting things with it. I like the way I expressed myself and enjoyed writing that a lot. Right now it’s the song I’m writing.
If you could collaborate with someone who would it be?
I like Yebba, she’s really cool she featured on Sam Smiths album. St Beauty, Raleigh Ritchie, Rushkana Merrise, Childish Gambino, and Adele. Along with my obvious ones like Stevie Wonder and Jamie Foxx too.
What was the last song you listened to?
Belly Squad, one of their tunes on YouTube.
What’s your favourite book?
Song Machine (John Seabrook). It’s about the music industry and how pop music came about. It’s also about the Swedish writers who wrote and produced. It was an interesting and eye opening book for me. I have a few, there’s another one by Dave Randall who used to play the guitar; it’s about politics in music and how music has influenced politics over the years.
Joshua, thank you very much.