In grade 6 Joel Sena picked up the saxophone and quickly became comfortable with the instrument. Since then he’s been performing and producing music fusing soul, jazz and hip hop.
Drawing inspirations from Prince and Robert Glasper Joel recently released a sax soul tune dubbed ‘Grindin’ featuring Phoebe Day. His upcoming EP recording features two of Australia’s most prominent musicians – Mike Pensini (Deni Hines, James Morrison) and Buddy Siolo (Delta Goodrem, Jess Mauboy). His highly anticipated second 4 track EP will be released November this year with a bold new sound.
We sit down with Joel and chat about what his latest release is about, what it’s like creating music with his partner and what we can expect from upcoming EP ‘In Transit.’
You just release Grindin’ can you tell us about it?
I’ve always loved collaborating with vocalists and putting songs like Grindin’ together. It’s a chance for me to speak a little more directly than I can with instrumental tracks. It’s a song about striving to move forward in your life despite any self doubt we may feel. I wanted to write a song about something real, something that many of us struggle with. It’s about taking a chance on something we believe in and staying the course. It was also a chance for me to feature vocals and sax heavily in one song which was a lot of fun. Both vocals and sax are really expressive in different ways, so it was cool to experiment and come up with some unique sounds that helped drive the message of the song home.
Tell us how you first learnt how to play the sax?
I still remember the first time I played the saxophone. It was in grade 6. I had a hand-me-down cheapo saxophone made by a now defunct company. The first few notes were difficult, but I quickly got comfortable with the instrument. I did lessons all through high school and eventually went on to study sax at uni. I really started getting passionate about it when I was 17. Our school band program was great and we had some cool opportunities to play with people like James Morrison, which really inspired me.
You are also gearing up to release an EP, can you tell us about it?
I’m about to release my second EP named ‘In Transit.’ It’s a record about just that – transition. In my life, in my sound and in my playing style. I started releasing original music just one year ago and it’s been a rollercoaster artistically and emotionally. I do feel like I’m starting to hone in on my signature sound as a saxophonist and producer. And that’s what this EP is about – the evolution of Joel Sena. It’s a big step forward from last year’s debut release.
Where would be your ideal setting to play the sax?
I’ve always wanted to do a show with an artist that I really admire… be it Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Herbie Hancock or many others. To be on stage with someone who’s shaped the art form so dramatically would be really awesome. That being said, playing my own music in a club like the Iridium in NYC would be pretty sweet as well.
You also feature Phoebe Day who is also your partner, what’s it like working together?
We actually started collaborating before we got romantic! So from the start we’ve been making music together and that’s been a really great point of connection for us. I couldn’t imagine our relationship without it. We both have our strengths and weaknesses and we let that dictate who takes the lead on what. We’re both pretty easy going as well and I think that’s kind of essential. It’s a rare thing to be able to create with your partner – I feel pretty lucky to be doing it!
What is your favourite flavoured ice-cream and why?
Tiramisu. I’m a coffee addict…