Well hello. My name is Joel. You probably don’t know much about me…so let’s start at the start.
I grew up in a city called Nottingham. Robin Hood and all that. Although I’ve lost my accent until I say words like umbrella. North Americans tell me Nottingham is also the name of a film starring Julia Roberts & Hugh Grant. I just go along with it.
One day a long, long time ago my Dad told me to listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. That night I listened to the whole thing on my Walkman under my Simpsons duvet and it changed my life completely. I discovered for a moment I was free, and I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.
My school was run a little like a Vietnamese prison but with less security. It was hell. I was 4 ft with a head shaped like a peanut. Not a great hand, but me and my buddy Jack reckoned if we started a band we could get girls despite our shortcomings. I picked up an old guitar in the loft and learnt “Every Breath you Take” by the Police. Before I knew it was sticking pictures of Jimi Hendrix to my wall and playing solo’s with my teeth. Guitar gave me that same – under – the – duvet – freedom I was searching for.
Disclaimer: We still didn’t get any girls. But we did learn how to escape from reality.
I spent my teenage years in bands with embarrassing costumes (one involving socks inside y fronts), but soon enough it was time to get serious about life and grow up. Dreams don’t come true. Fast forward three years and I’m holding a first class politics degree and heading down to London to work in Parliament. Not bad.
London was big. And beautiful. Before I could read a tube map I somehow found myself in Tottenham Hale in a recording studio with a couple of guys called Jo & TJ. I met them on a burgeoning social platform called ‘twitter’. They were producers and became my best friends. I had no idea how important that day would become.
After long days of wearily defending Ed Bacon Biting Miliband I would scuttle off to a block of flats on Holloway Road to record music. Most of the guys there would think I was police when I arrived. The M&S suit didn’t help. Some days I would sing and write, some days I would just watch. Either way I was subconsciously sponging it all in.
Something started to stir inside of me. Dreams locked inside 13 year old Joel were perspiring to the surface; the big city was shaping my heart and I was starting to believe. I bought a bunch of songwriting books from amazon to learn how to write songs. I booked myself into vocal lessons to learn how to sing. I emptied my savings and bought a microphone. After a year of hustling things began to bubble.
I was releasing music and touring with a few acts (Ella Eyre, Saint Raymond, Ryan Keen) but I wanted more. I tried to think outside the box about ways I could speed things up.
Grabbing a handful of embossed parliamentary envelopes I wrote to the bosses of Radio 1 with my EP inside. Despite the probability of annoyance that the letter wasn’t an invitation for knighthood, I got a call the next day saying that Radio 1 wanted to put me on the BBC introducing playlist.
I quit my job in parliament and went on the road. Handing out CDs from Totnes to Glasgow, I played music in bars, sheds and living rooms.
It certainly hasn’t been plain sailing since then. I remember coming home after an Ella Eyre tour only to discover I didn’t have a penny to my name. More than that, bailiffs were coming round that week to kick me out of the flat I was living in. Despite thousands of people singing my songs the week before, I begrudgingly called an agency to get work (you know, so I could like eat food and stuff). I turned up at an infant school in North London 7am the next morning. Ella Eyre was playing on the radio in the staff room as one of the teachers nodded along. “Oh you like Ella do you?”. “Yeah, I love her” said the teacher with eyes shaped like smothering judgemental question marks. “Oh well I’ve just been on tour with her”;……. “what, like carrying lights or something?” as patronising as the words convey. “No, performing, I opened up for her tour this month. I’m a singer”. Preceded by an disingenuous smile, the response that arrived was…. “well in the corner there’s a box of old play-doh that needs unsticking from the lid. Can you start with that” …