Joelistics out on his ownsome
Joelistics makes a run for it on his own with a brand new record on Elefant Traks as TZU take a break to write a new record. The byproduct is “Voyager“, conceived while Joelistics was traveling the world and tracing his roots. It came together on a laptop as he trekked through China and Mongolia, landing in Europe where he spent months in France finishing it off. The record was realized in the studio upon his return to Australia, collaborating with close friends to create a sincere remark about who he is. Whilst it is essentially a hip-hop record, Joelistics made sure the shape of the album wasn’t going to allow anyone to jam it squarely into a box as he ventures into folk, electronic and beyond. The records production is a departure from TZU and his vocals are as sharp as ever, and has been in the spotlight since coming out a few weeks ago to massive response from radio and print. Voyager illustrates the wide array of music Joelistics has absorbed in his lifetime and it manifests itself eloquently into a poetic and seamless statement about who he is and what he stands for.
Joelistics tours the country supporting Low Rider and took some time out to chat to me about the record and more:::>>>>>>>>>
1. Your time from TZU and travels took you back to your roots, how did this help shape “Voyager”?
I have a mongrel background. My father is second generation Chinese Australian with roots in Hong Kong and further back to Mongolia and my mother’s family are a few shades of Northern European. After the Computer Love campaign, TZU collectively decided to take a break. I spent a year living overseas spending six months in China and six months in Paris working as a part time travel writer and dodgy English teacher. At first I didn’t set out to write a record on the road or about the road, but I was traveling with my laptop and a mother load of samples and soft synths so it came very naturally, plus being surrounded by so much new stimulus inspired new methods. At the heart of the Voyager record is the themes of travel, fluid identity, feeling like an outsider, over stimulation… All the things that come from living overseas. At it’s heart, Voyager is a very Australian record. I suppose I was traveling the world looking for parts of myself, thinking that surely in Hong Kong, Mongolia and Paris there would be something familiar, some echo in the bones that would make me feel more connected, but invariably it led to a sense of feeling more Australian, more a product of the environment that I grew up in.
2. Tell me about the writing and production processes and who you worked with and why you chose these people?
The making of Voyager was mostly an ‘anti-collaboration’ affair, in that I wrote the songs by myself, I programmed all the drums and synths, cut up all the samples and played the bulk of the instruments on it. When I was living in Beijing I wrote a lot angular music, when I was in Paris I wrote a lot more melodic music. A lot of the lyrics were written when I got back to Australia, compiling sketches from journals and scraps of paper I’d kept. As the songs began to take a solid shape, I booked some sessions with Dustin Mclean at Moon Zero studios and with Ptero Stylus at Hope street studios to record vocals. Dustin also played a few tasty keys parts on the some of the tracks and he became a trusted set of ears for arrangement ideas. For the mix, I worked with Elgusto from Hermitude.
3. What can we expect from the album?
In terms of production, the album is a logical progression from the work I was doing with TZU on Computer Love – Synth heavy beats with samples and melodic hooks, heavy subject matter and ambitious arrangements. I paid a lot of attention to the idea of the ‘song’ and less focus on technical rhyme based flows and classic hiphop subject matter. From a distance I think it’s an uplifting record with darkness in the details.
4. What has your experience been with your label Elefant Traks and how have they helped?
Elefant Traks are awesome and a natural fit for me. TZU toured extensively with the Herd and became good friends with all of the chaps who operate the day to day at ET. They are an artist run label so they understand the dire shape of the music industry and still do it anyway. I have found them to be helpful in suggesting everything from single choices to Graphic ideas and marketing strategies and see them as career collaborators.
5. How does living in Melbourne influence your music?
Melbourne is a creative city and that definitely feeds in to my music. I’m originally from Sydney so I’m a melbourne transplant but I feel like what I do would have been harder to get off the ground in Sydney. There is something about Melbourne audiences…possibly it’s as simple as there being more venues hence more audience but I think Melbourne audiences are also a bit more receptive to music that takes chances.
6. What have you learnt from the biz thus far?
The music business is a mess right now. It’s harder than ever to sell CD’s and labels are struggling to keep their head above water. So basically, it doesn’t pay to be slack. Most musicians I know are slack by nature and not adept business people (and in the perfect world this shouldn’t be a problem) but if you want to make a living from music you’re almost forced to become a business person. Everything from marketing, promotion, finding the right audience, juggling incoming money with out going expenses, dealing with lawyers, accountants, managers – It is all boring bullshit totally removed from the creative process but necessary if you want to get your music heard. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt from the biz is – You have to care the most about what you do. You have to be the one who gives the biggest fuck about it. Ultimately, you have to have faith in what you do.
7. State of Melbourne hip hop and the local scene in general, and what is tickling your fancy at the moment?
Melbourne hiphop and Australian hiphop in general is the strongest it’s ever been. There is a real sound emerging in this country and it has an audience and a relevance that is commercially viable which was unthinkable 10years ago. As far as groups that I find inspiring – I am overwhelmingly impressed by a group called Horrorshow, I expect big things from Jeremedy and I dig the creativity and pop nous of both Pez and 360. That said, I don’t think I’m the best source of knowledge for Aussie hiphop because I don’t listen to much of it and I try to avoid being too involved in it. Something about the attitudes of a lot of the audience and some of the artists reminds me of the ‘Aussie pride’ movement and for that reason I try not to fit in. To quote Groucho Marx ‘I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member’
8. Your thoughts on social media and online presence as an artist?
It’s integral to have your social media game up to par these days. Twitter, Facebook, music blogs – this is how so much of todays audience receives new music. I was initially reluctant to immerse myself in twitter and fb but have since come to accept it as a necessary evil and appreciate the contact and conversations that exist in that realm. One of the problems with it is that it can become addictive.
9. I hear there is a new TZU record in the works. What can we expect?
As per usual TZU is about to re-appraise everything we take for granted about ourselves, our sound and our creative goals. We’ll probably write something that alienates a bunch of people, inspires a few and commercially shoots ourselves in the foot.
10. Fave live Melbourne acts and why, where, who?
Hands down – The Hoodangers are my favourite live Melbourne act.
11. What is on the horizon?
Touring the solo work, writing with TZU and then working on my first straight-ahead folk record.
Joelistics - Heart Remains by Elefant Traks