When he first posting up his music on his MySpace account, he certainly didn’t expect getting 30,000 plays a day. Much less getting an encouraging amount of response from people from all over the world. At that time, he was only 17 years old. Before long, Joe Brooks became one of the UK’s highest-ranking unsigned artistes.
Currently, Joe is based in Los Angeles and at 25 years of age, he has not only captured new ears with his unmistakable talent but he has also successfully sold out shows worldwide. And now, two weeks before he comes to Malaysia as part of his Asia tour, we speak to him in an exclusive interview organized by our friends from Sony Music Malaysia:
Hi Joe! Where are you right now and what are you currently up to?
“Hi! I’m in Los Angeles watching a little bit of Netflix with my girlfriend”
What were your first thoughts when you heard that you were coming to Malaysia? What have you heard about Malaysia so far and do you have anything specific in mind that you’re super looking forward to?
“I’m beyond excited. I’m excited to bring my full band this time because the last time it was just a trio. So this time we’re really going to rock out and I’m excited for everyone to see it! It’s gonna be a little bit of a different vibe. And the last time, we stayed on a beach for a week and that was really cool. We did a lot of shopping and then we played the show, which was interesting. What would you recommend?”
The food! Malaysian food.
“Isn’t it a little spicy there? I remember the last time..we had some McDonald’s – it was good! But yeah I’ll definitely keep that in mind, trying Malaysian food.”
So, we know you’ve probably been asked this question a lot but what was the initial push for you to upload your music onto the Internet?
“I was 16 at that time and it was a really new thing to upload music onto the Internet. I was just making demos in my bedroom and I decided to put them up online. And then I started getting comments from people in Australia and in Asia – it was just amazing. So it kinda snowballed and it went from there, and I began to took it more and more seriously. Here I am now eight years later still doing the same thing! (laughs)”
MySpace or the Internet rather, is quite a free-for-all space to promote your music. Now that you’ve signed on with a label, how does it work differently for you? Do you still have creative control over your music?
“Oh, absolutely! I’m an independent musician but I distribute through Sony Music but that, for me, works great. Because Sony Music does fantastic from their end of the market, to record, and to bring me out to Malaysia. But at the same time, I still have creative control when it comes to creating the control. So, yeah I’m really enjoying that mix.”
Where do you usually draw inspiration from when you write music and what’s your songwriting process like?
“It differs every time. Every song, well..for some songs I start with the lyrics because I want to write about a specific thing or because I have an idea in my head. Sometimes, it’s through a chord progression or a riff on the guitar or on the piano. For me, there hasn’t really been like just one way.”
Let’s talk about “The Boy & The Broken Machine”. How’s that coming along and how do you think it’s different from “Constellation Me”?
“It’s basically finished. I’m preparing to master it very soon and it will be coming out really, really shortly. I’m a little behind schedule on it because I want it to sound absolutely perfect so I’m working very hard on it. The concept behind it is basically finding the fight in yourself to follow your dreams and to achieve what you want to achieve in life. It’s more mature than ‘Constellation Me’, it has got more honest lyrics, and it’s extremely eclectic. There’s strings, there’s a banjo, there’s a harmonica, there’s opera, and there’s a hip hop beat..you know, just really eclectic. I’m excited about that!”
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If you weren’t playing music from the acoustic genre, what genres of music would you most likely be dabbling in?
“Probably Americano rock. I like that idea. Like a Counting Crows or a Kings of Leon type of sound.”
Are there any artistes from other genres that you hope to someday collaborate with?
“You know what, I’ve always wondered about mixing a kind of chilled rap or a hip hop beat with acoustic. I don’t know much about rap. Oh, and I think it would be nice to collaborate with someone like Taylor Swift. I can’t say that I listen to her a lot but I do think that she’s very talented. She also seems very sweet!”
Do you have any music listening guilty pleasures? What’s currently on your playlist now – you know, music that would shock your fans if they knew that you were listening to it.
“I like a bit of Hanson! (laughs)”
What advice would you give to the talented young ones who want to put their music out there but are afraid to do so? How would you teach them best to follow your footsteps?
“I would say that there are no reasons to be afraid. Be prepared for both positive and negative feedback, but take it with a pinch of salt. At the end of the day, only do it if you’re going to enjoy doing it, otherwise there’s no point. You gotta do it for yourself first and then..hope that other people enjoy it!”
Don’t forget to catch Joe Brooks live at The Bee, Publika on 20th May 2013. For more deets, click!