“My favorite songs — I don’t post those.”
“I have six, seven songs that I really love but I won’t post them yet.”
Joel was born April 21st, 1998 in Tokyo. He then moved to Zurich, Shanghai, Kobe, Bahrain, Moscow, Toronto, and Kyoto. His life in not-so-short is already a mouthful. While he was in Kobe, he realised his passion for music. He began turning little scribbles on crumpled notebooks into music without thinking much of it. His interest in music never left him, but he had planned a more conventional route for himself. In 2016, he headed to the University of Toronto to double major in Biology and Psychology.

Candid and honest ー he reflects, “I ended up making a lot of mistakes after that.” He knew in his heart that he was neglecting his responsibilities, but in the corner of his mind lived a sense of invincibility we all hold in our youth. A couple years later, his choices compiled. He was neglecting relationships, and wasn’t being true to himself or the people he cared for, deeply. After some much needed introspection, he came back out with music. “All of it galvanized into me taking a serious approach on music”. Perhaps the only way out is in, after all.
In layman’s terms, his music can be split into electronic house edm and singer-songwriter style. “The former is more of an enjoyable, strategic experience. The latter is more comforting because I can infuse it with an emotional core.” He continues, “I think the singer-songwriter style manifests itself when I’m at my most emotionally vulnerable.” Joel sees his current music as a snapshot of his creative output at a given time in his life. He describes his current music as ‘fucking chaotic’. “It’s a teenager— not a fully formed adult, no adult responsibilities. It’s young and not ‘there’ yet, but it has potential.” It’s not his magnus opus per se, but something he can stand by, and build. Right now, his analogy for his music as food is Cheddar, but he aspires to develop it into Camembert and Cabernet. When asked why he made this analogy he jokes, “Maybe I’m just too Swiss”. Swiss or not Swiss, we can all agree that Cheese and Wine is one hell of a godsend. Jokes aside, he says he seeks an element of cheese-like sophistication in his electronic works, as he sees it as more of a physical pursuit of producing something that is robust and eloquent. The wine, is more refined, elegant, yet playful, and that to him is his singer-songwriter aspect. To continue with his overly-Swiss cheese/wine analogy, he says “The cheese can get too sharp and rigid. The wine is smooth and rich, and it's an excellent pairing. Eventually I want to achieve an in-between. A fluid song writing style with sick percussion/electronic elements.”

The sense of gap between where his music is right now, and where he wants it to be, boils down to his lack of experience and insecurities. He feels as if his ability to execute does not do his music justice. “Whats held me back the most is myself.”
Am I doing it for the right motivations?
Am I waisting my time?
Am I just being impulsive?

Amidst these thoughts, music is a liberating thing for him. “It’s just like talking to someone. For me, it’s just talking to myself through my own music.”​​​​​​​
Easily recognizable for the lyrics ‘My balls are big as fuck’, the track Impolite came from an unexpected turn of events. Everyones worst fear — not saving a digital file properly. Joel was in a crazy mood to finish the song one night, and worked on it from 6pm through to 5am. At 6am, he re-opened the file just once more with the intentions to upload it when he got up… the file crashes. For every attempt to open the files, the computer spit a ‘FILE CORRUPTED’ back at his face. Later that week, he rehashed his memory in an attempt to reconstruct the original. No doubt it was never what it once was. Joel does like it as it is now,  but the idea of ‘My balls are big as fuck, maybe you should come and take a look’ is blatantly aggressive — a manifestation of his frustration, indeed.
Sitting on a Wave, a Ukulele  number was written four years ago, and had been privated for three years of its life. He admits, he felt so lost and alone, to be out in the world and beginning to adult. Inspirationally, this song came from a place of self love and familial love. However, thematically, it’s about the rekindling of a forbidden love. The lyrics go:
If love is contraband, then I ain’t no snitch.
Keep it tucked away lest their prying eyes succeed.
He says, “Love is a complex thing you can hold on to, or give away, but I don’t want to be responsible for taking it away from others.” He would not release the song with this particular lyric at this point in his life — love, in Joel’s eyes is something that gives you liberation when it is freely and intimately experienced. He no longer feels that it should be protected and hidden at the cost of this freedom. Four years ago, when this song was written, forms of love that were deemed ‘forbidden’ was to be tucked away for guarding. Perhaps this dissonance in this lyric is a nod to the progress the world has made in these past four years to accept more forms of love, as love.
The conversation took right angle turn, when the topic “What geometric shape would your music be?” arose. (right angle turn, geometric shape, get it?)
He answered - “a cube.”
“A cube?”

“One of the lines in an unreleased song I wrote for my mom was:
I wanna see inside
Your glass cube
Six faces, no switching sides
I don’t wanna be a number when you wanna roll
I had this image of someone with a glass cube over their head as a mask.”

He continues, “Because a dice has six faces, it represents how people switch between these masks. But this glass cube, it’s ironic because it’s transparent so you can see my face through it. It’s also a double metaphor to a dice - that I don’t want to be the person you rely on just by chance or convenient circumstances. I want to be someone you trust on a regular basis. I want to be more than a convenience to someone.”
Joel admits to taking a lot of time in his day thinking about where he stands in the world. If he’s not actively engaging with music, he’s wandering music related thoughts. He recognizes he represents a specific demographic in this world as a mix-raced kid. He frequently wavers between wanting to give respect to the others belonging in a similar demographic whilst remaining true to himself.
I’m this mix raced kid that wants to write songs but what gives me the right?
Why me?
Do I represent other mixed race people?
Is it my responsibility to represent them, to write songs that empower them? or should it be more about myself?
Should other people sympathize to my work or should i sympathize to other people? — Bewildered between individualism and collectivism.​​​​​​​
His favorite part about doing what he does is the surge of energy when he comes up with something at 4am — a real La Dolce Vita moment. To really feel those few notes, and feeling those words come together, “Thats the only thing I ever want.” An equally gratifying buzz is one he gets from showing his work to people. He recounts, “It’s undoubtedly nerve-racking, but the right time, right song and right people? You can’t deny how special that moment is.”
Joel hasn’t updated his spotify playlist in a hot minute — his favorite song is You are the Sunshine of my Life by Stevie Wonder. He admits to not listening to a lot of music, and sometimes wonders if it’s a setback. The algorithm overwhelms him, as if songs are trying to push their ways into his attention. “Perhaps it’s a little bit of jealousy. I want to be the one people are searching for, and not the other way around.” In the interview, Joel gets candid about the benefits and detriments to the development of streaming services. Essentially, we are in a renaissance, a revolution. While every artist is given a shot at independence, the market is being saturated and music is being consumed quicker than it has every been before. “The digital age, communicating in an instance, none of this was physically possible a mere decade earlier. We’re living in a crazy time and art is exploding in a new way.”
Whats the closest thing to real magic? In Joel’s eyes, doing something that is inspired by the spur of the moment is so intimate to ones emotion. Improvisation as well ー the in the moment creativity. “Doing things that feel right at that moment, and executing it instantly, is unbelievable, crazy, magic."
On his favorite unreleased songs (the ones mentioned in the beginning of this article), he says he simply is not at the technical level in which he can do them justice. The concept, the idea, the emotion and music is there, but the level of execution would be doing them a disservice. He continues, the music will be out there, when its ready to be out there —
So for now we wait.

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