London-based Canadian solo artist Joyeria releases his debut EP FIM today on the ever dependable Speedy Wunderground Records (home to releases by Black Midi, Kae Tempest, Warmduscher, Squid and Black Country, New Road amongst many other delights). A record that delights in giving space between the motorik bass and snaking guitars and keys for Joyeria’s darkly comic deadpan barritone delivery on themes of depression, society and the value of songwriting; FIM more than holds its own in the illustrious company of its labelmates.
We caught up with Joyeria to ask about the songs that have shaped his musical journey.
1) What is your earliest music-related memory? What do you remember being played at home when you were a child?
I was the youngest in the house so I never got to choose what would go on the stereo therefore I was constantly played music. My father played what is now known as Classic Rock; Stones, Kinks etc.. but also more interesting stuff like Barry McGuire and The Animals. My mother had a bunch of classical records, Chopin, Bach, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and well as some contemporary stuff, the stand out being Glenn Gould. My brother was into the wave of bands like The Cure, The The, New Order but also had records by The Clash, The Cult, Joy Division. He made a lot of cassettes which I would listen to when nobody was looking so I got to hear music which would not have been heard by a kid my age at the time. That discovery is the early memory. People got nervous when I touched stuff so I would do it when nobody was looking and put on all the records. I remember listening to Glenn Gould alone and thinking what an amazing atmosphere it made. I didn’t understand the context of the music or that he was a master, only how it made me feel.
2) What was the first record that you ever bought? Where did you get it and do you have any recollection of the experience?
I vividly remember the first records I ever bought was from a record store call “Sam the Record Man” on Yonge Street in Toronto. There was another record shop just up the street from it too so I’d skip school and spend the afternoon there. There were some very sketchy spots on Yonge Street back then and we’d try to sneak into the strip joints, of which there were many. Once in a while some underpaid security guard would let us in only to have the owner or dancers kick us out. The first records I ever bought were all in one trip. I don’t remember how I got the money but I purchased a single of “Otha fish” by the Pharcyde, “Talkin’ Blues” by Bob Marley and “London Calling” by the Clash (for my brother). I still really love the version of Peter Tosh’s “You Can’t Blame The Youth” from ‘Talkin’ Blues’
3) When did you really start to develop a passion for listening to music? How did that come about and what were you into at the time?
I found a cassette of Sly and The Family Stone’s “There’s A Riot Goin’ On”. I had no idea what it was about or what it would sound like. I took it home and listened to it with my eyes closed over and over until I started to fall asleep. I remember one headphone came off my ear and I could only hear bass and drums, no guitars and vocals. I woke up and listened to the other side and heard guitar and vocals and no bass and drums. That was when I first realised that instruments are panned to the sides. I didn’t know why but I thought it was cool. Like someone in the band thought it would be fun. It was safe to say I was the only kid at school listening to Sly and The Family Stone on repeat. ‘Family Affair’ would get paid full blast. I find records a lot, like, in the trash on just on the street. I found Gary Stewart’s “Your Place or Mine” LP 6 years or so on the sidewalk in Hackney. I still listen to it all the time.
4) What was the first gig that you went to? Where was it and what was it like?
I was WAY too young when I went to my first show. But my buddy bought me a ticket and we went to see A Tribe Called Quest for the Midnight Marauders tour. Craig Mack was the opener. We were stood right at the front because we basically went in when the doors opened. It was an all-ages show but there were grown people there and it was a bit of a heavy scene. But I loved it. It was a new world. Tribe were incredible. The crowd went nuts. I can’t remember the venue but in my head it was maybe 200 capacity.
5) What are your memories of starting out making music? What was the first song that you learned to play?
I didn’t really learn to play songs. When I got access to a guitar I’d try to noodle something I’d heard once in a while but generally I’d make nonsense. Before I had access to a guitar I would record sound on sound on my brother’s boombox. I’d use a instrumental b-side of a single on a cassette player and use a set of headphones plugged into the microphone jack and record onto a blank tape on the B Cassette. It was just crazy stuff but I’d go skateboard and listen to it and go home, make more and so it went on.
6) What was your first band? What music was influencing you at that time? What are your memories of playing your first gig and are there any recordings out there?
I didn’t play in bands. I was always friendly with everyone or whatever but I never really had a group of people like that. Music was a solo affair. Sometimes I’d mess around with people, genreless nonsense. But not anything anyone would want to hear live. At least not how I remember it. The cassettes all still exist. But I don’t have access to them at the moment. I remember I wanted to be in Suicidal Tendencies though. Music is still a lonely thing in a lot of ways. I remember the label saying “you going to put a band together?” and I just thought, “I don’t know anyone”.
7) What are your memories of starting to play as Joyeria? What was your first release and what do you think now when you listen back to it?
Joyeria started as Joy Eria. I had a few Ideas at the time and I thought that it would be fun to work through these ideas with Speedy Wunderground. So I made up an email address and sent off one email with two songs. The email just said, “Hey, I’m based in London, here are some ideas”. A few days later Dan (Carey) emailed back and we met up, talked about the ideas and went from there. The first release was “Here Comes Trouble” which was not one of the two original ideas I had sent. Dan played bass on the recording as well as synths, I played guitars and George who played in Tiña at the time played drums.
8) Which band/artist do you think has had the biggest influence on your music over the years? What is it about them that inspires you?
I don’t know how to answer this. I’ve been a listener of so many people from so many different places with so many different sounds it would be reductive to even try and pinpoint an answer. The album I have probably listened to most is ‘Solo Piano’ by Philip Glass. I think you can hear its influence on me.
9) Who are some of your favourite current artists? What do you like about them?
I grew up in the same neighbourhood as Geddy Lee and people talk about him like a god, I’m curious if the same will happen to Black Midi. They have done something deeply original and lyrically it’s getting stronger and stronger without losing it sense of humour. The Lounge Society reminded me of Minutemen when I first heard them, but I think what they’ve done is beyond that. I love their album, lyrics are great, the show is killer. WOW is an Italian band and they have an incredible mood to the music. Whitney K’s ‘Hard to be God” a is a standout album from this year. I saw Morgan Noise play recently and enjoyed the show. O. Moreish Idols. Built to Spill.
10) You have a new EP out soon, how has your approach to making music changed since you started out, and how has your sound developed over that time? Is there a particular song on the record that epitomises what you’re aiming to achieve or that is particularly special to you for any reason?
I got a little analogue setup at home and I record to a 16 track 1 inch tape reel to reel. It’s a super fast way to work and there are no computer screens. So in a lot of ways things have not changed. I’m trying to write something. Not just say something that has already been said in a new way. That makes this very hard. The idea is to get better right? Better at writing, truer, funnier, pithier. Better at music, more experimental, more challenging, or is the challenge to make simplicity? I really like “Performance Review” on the EP. Because it’s all of the competing influences existing together.
Catch Joyeria live at the following UK dates:
4th November – Mutations Festival, Brighton w/ Squid, Warmdusher
1st December – The Windmill, Brixton (Headline show)
Interview by Paul Maps
Photograph by Alex Evans