We spoke to the incredibly talented Joe Parsons.
An artist of many talents, originally from the West Country, Joe is now based in London and is a part of the city’s vibrant scene, both as a musician as well as a professional stand up comedian.
Back in August he released his brilliant debut single ‘Pilot’.
We are probably a bit late to the party but we think is never too late to discover great artists especially as his self-titled debut album will be released very soon, on the 13th of October, coinciding with Joe’s 30th birthday.
‘Pilot’ talks about the story of the process that led to him coming out and about the person that triggered this process.
Despite being very personal and talking about his homosexuality, ‘Pilot’, as well as the album, is slightly sarcastic and Joe’s sense of humour, well trained by years of standup, is palpable.
A deep love for Sigur Ros and influences like Fleet Foxes and Sufjans Stevens are clear throughout the track whilst maintaining its own identity, driven by his lyrics, dreamy synths and delicate harmonies.
Pilot can be seen as the beginning of Joe’s story, with him stating – “This song recounts the moment I first told someone that I was gay. They were really intuitive and knew I wasn’t being myself. That began the process of me coming out to friends and family. It felt like this was the perfect debut single to introduce myself and what the album is about.”
It’s great to hear a song so personal as the introduction to his art. Joe Parsons has opened up a lot in this song and over the whole album and we are very happy that he also opened up with us about the whole process and his life in music.
The brilliant video for ‘Pilot’ clearly focuses on vulnerability, portraying Joe topless in the video and addressing body image issues that he faced over the years. “I’d wear a jumper in a swimming pool if I could.” Showing him alone in the video is a great metaphor for the loneliness he felt being closeted.
The song was mastered at Abbey Road by Andrew Walter (David Bowie, The Who, Coldplay, Radiohead), and it showcases the atmospheric melodies that we can expect from the album.
Enough of us now and let’s leave it to Joe to tell more.
Hi Joe, thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions. We found your debut single on Musosoup and we fell in love with it. We were also quite impressed with your stand up material, we’ll ask you about that in a minute but for now let’s focus on the music. Let’s start…
Please tell us a bit more about your musical journey, when and how you started getting involved with music? We know you have been playing since you were a kid but do you mind giving a bit of background to our readers?
I started playing around piano in my grandparents place when I was about 4/5 years of age so I had always shown an interest. I wasn’t a very good student when I eventually had lessons as I didn’t like reading music or using the right fingers – my teacher eventually let me learn by listening and working it out in my own time. After that I was playing music in school in bands; one of which was a comedy jazz duo where we sang mainly about pooing. I then was the frontman of a more Indie pop band.
What was the first music you bought/downloaded?
The first thing I remember owning was a Beautiful South cassette of the song ‘Rotterdam’. I also really loved Simply Red. If that’s not the most 90’s thing you’ve ever read then I’m not sure what is.
What was your favourite artist/band as a child?
Well when I was really young I liked the usual sugary pop diet (yes I owned an Aqua CD), but then it developed in secondary school to be a bit more indie – for instance Cooper Temple Clause, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party etc. But I think my favourite artist that I still listen to that caught my imagination was Sigur Ros. When Takk came out my mind was blown.
First song you learnt how to play?
This is a difficult one – but it was probably a banger like ‘Ode to Joy’. I remember playing Toploader’s ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ in a school assembly once on the keyboard.
What are your main influences now? Is there a particular artist or an album that inspired you more than others?
Being from Somerset, trip-hop is a huge influence on me. Massive Attack and Portishead will always be big influences. I’ve always found Sufjan Stevens’ lyricism really inspiring too. Björk’s genre-bending approach to music is also a big inspiration. I’d love to do something as daring as her one day.
Tell us a bit more about your debut single ‘Pilot’. How did it come about? We know the story behind it is very personal, do you mind telling us more about it?
Well it’s the precursor to a song on the album called ‘Series’. ‘Pilot’ is a really honest account of how the process of coming out affected me. It tells the story of when I first started to open up and one of the people who triggered the coming out process. They had noticed I wasn’t myself and asked me if I was ok. Then what follows is this terrifying process of telling people followed by a huge feeling of relief; there really is no feeling like it. I wanted it to feel celebratory but have moments of intimacy.
We worked on an online festival in August and even though it was amazing for us being back on a ‘live show’ setting and a sort of a festival site, speaking with the musicians we could sense there were mixed feelings on this and on the right mindset needed to play just in front of a couple of cameras for an online audience… what do you think about this? Did you get much involved with live streaming during these past few months? Did you do any gig or any online standup?
Well its such a unique environment to be involved with any of the arts. Comedy as industry is on its knees as its not recognised as a performing art. Venues are closing and some performers have lost all their income. So when there are opportunities for venues and performers to make money from doing online gigs, I’m all for it. It won’t be the same as with a live audience for sure but it serves a valuable purpose. I personally haven’t done any live performances and have focused more on writing.
This is something we ask pretty much everyone we know, not just during the interviews…
We are massive lovers of movie soundtracks, what is your favourite movie soundtrack? And what existing movie would you like to recreate (or even just curate) a new soundtrack for?
Oh I’m so sorry, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve seen like 5 films – so if it’s not Home Alone or Toy Story, I’m pretty stumped! I think I’d like to write a song for a really gritty horror – an opportunity to write something really depressing.
Free question – please ask yourself a question that you have always wanted to get asked. Could be a question about your future plans, or a statement or just a story you’d like to share with us and our readers.
Hey Joe would you like a pint?
The answer is always yes.
Before we let you go, can you recommend a couple of great new bands/artists you are into at the moment? Any new artists we might not have heard about?
The Bristol music scene is incredible so when you can, please go to a gig any night of the week in any venue, you’re sure to get something great. Im obsessed with anything Oliver Wilde does so I’d direct you to his projects ‘Pet Shimmers’ and ‘Oro Swimming Hour’.
Thanks so much for your time and looking forward to hearing more music from you.
Follow Joe Parsons at the links and handles below
Twitter – @posephjarsons
Insta – @joeparsonsmusic