It’s becoming increasingly rare to find artists that find success through the sheer musicality of their singing voice. Gone are the days of the Whitney Houston days of diva-in-vogue, perhaps as a result of the increased value placed on production techniques and sampling in modern pop music. It simply isn’t the most important thing anymore, which is not necessarily a bad thing – we’ve seen some truly extraordinary music coming from the hijacked laptops of bedroom producers. However, nothing really beats a well written song sung by someone with heaps of technical ability. Enter Joe Flowers, the London based Rnb/Soul singer-songwriter, and his latest single ‘Misused‘. With a gorgeous baritone voice reminiscent of Rick Astley in his heyday, an unforgettable chorus, and brilliant production elements from Bedlam, this track hits the spot in so many different ways. I spoke to Joe about the release:

KM: So, how did you first get into music?

J: Probably when I was given my first proper keyboard. It’s a Yamaha; I was around 15 years old. I started to teach myself chords and eventually I began to write songs. I still use that keyboard to write most of my songs!

KM: Can you tell us what ‘Misused’ is about?

J: I think it’s about the frailty of the mind, and it’s tendency to be tempestuous. Lyrically it comes across as somewhat confessional, so I think if there is a narrative it would centre around that idea – someone telling someone else about their own fragility.

KM: That sense of frailty really comes across in the production of this track. Your use of vocal samples in particular is really interesting – do you pitch shift your own vocal?

J: Credit goes to the producer – Bedlam. Yes, I believe he took snippets from my vocal and pitch shifted them. Adds a cool dynamic I think.

KM: This track has a very immersive sound world – are the production elements important to you in terms of building a narrative around a song?

J: Yes, especially in a chorus. I’m a very chorus-centric songwriter, so I demand  a certain amount from the production around those parts of the song in order for me to emphasise main parts of the narrative.

KM: Whilst the production often features unusual sounds and textures, this is essentially a pop song at its heart. How do you negotiate the line between more abstract sounds and traditional pop hooks and melody?

J: Partly by listening to how others have done it. The progression of technology in music has opened doors for people who perhaps otherwise would have been straight up pop writers. I think another part of the balancing act involves being loyal to the fundamental structure of a pop song i.e. Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Middle 8/Chorus. That way the song is still mapped out as a standard pop song regardless of how much abstract stuff you layer on top of it.

KM: The build up of layers throughout gives this track a very cinematic feel. Was that intentional?

J: I think I naturally write in a very cinematic way, I like movies and visuals. In fact, the songs I write are so innately cinematic that I think it has become unintentional. It’s just become a default thing.

 KM: Your low voice is particularly memorable and a good baritone is definitely hard to come by! Were you ever snapped up by choirs or bands when you were at school?

J: Thank you! I was in a cathedral choir when I was a boy soprano. Then my voice broke so I got the sack.  I was in the odd rock band here and there, yes. Usually just an excuse to dick about.

KM: There are some clear RnB influences in your work. Which artists do you listen to and gain inspiration from?

J: RnB is such an exciting genre at the moment. That being said, if I ever feel I need reminding of solid singing and songwriting I’m not afraid to give Usher’sConfessions” a spin. Beyoncé’s career is a good representation of how RnB has changed over time, she’s always been a favourite of mine. I used to have a life-size cardboard cut out of her in my room – but mainly I draw influence from contemporary alt RnB artists like Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Miguel, Gallant etc.

KM: Maybe one day Beyoncé will have a cardboard cut out of you in her room! Will we be able to catch you live anytime soon?

J: Not soon. But one day.

KM: Keep us posted! What are your hopes for 2017? 

J: To write better songs and grow the fan base. I would also like to write for other people -that would be cool.




Post a new comment