After receiving an email from Joel’s manager Shem, I almost missed out on hearing Joel’s musical prowess due to that thing of emails getting lost in amongst others. Luckily for me a relaxing day on Sunday meant I could check Joel out properly and I was well blessed.
His baritone voice exploded through classic neo soul vibes and hip-hop beats. After a stint in New York because he was almost convinced that the UK would not appreciate his music he returned re-invigorated and ready to make his name firstly in his own back yard….bwoy!
So who or what inspired a young Joel?
I live in a soulful household and religiously every Sunday we would be listening to Donnie Hathaway, Luther Vandross, Prince and I just took an interest in that type of music. I think everybody realised that Joel loves that and my mum supported me. Mum would be playing some distinctive voice that I would hear on a Sunday and you know it is a chill out day and the music is relaxing and everyone is waiting to get a traditional Bajan Sunday dinner bwoy!
Were you inspired by any UK artists?
I met Omar once at petrol station and I did not really say much to him but I just said that you do not know how much of an impact you have made on me musically. It is the way that as soon as you hear him you know this is Omar.
So singing, was it a natural thing for you?
My voice is very deep I had to learn how to use my voice because my voice is very deep. I just wanted to sing and I knew I could sing but I had to work out and craft my voice. It was when I started to tune into Neo Soul with De Angelo, Soul Child who know how to use their voice. I took a student’s approach, this is what I want to do, this is what I want to get right and so it is important that I practice singing and that I learn the chords, clarity and so forth.
You talked about having to learn to use your voice was it difficult?
People can think that because someone has a rather baritone voice that they cannot do great vocals but I embraced it. I stopped doing the whole Boyz II Men thing (at Flavour we love a bit of Boyz II Men) and started to do me and people like Omar hooked me and inspired. I am still English and it was important that I did not lose that Englishness about me. It is the middle range vocals that are difficult and so I have to continue to learn that.
Obviously I have to ask about your education…
I went to college to study performing arts and I studied dance as well as singing. A lot of people know me for my dancing I was known for flexing out but eventually music started to take over and more people started to know me for my singing and music.
It seems like you were almost helpless in music and singing becoming your path…
I think for me music just compelled me too much inspired me too much and I just realised when I was sixteen that this is what I want do and I went out to New York to shot my first demo tape and try and get a deal. I think that was the pivotal moment. Music just grabs too much of my attention not to do anything.
Why New York?
My thought process was that you need to go and get what you want. When you hear stories about successful people there is always this story about them having a go getter mentality people like Jay Z. In most of the cases they give up something or there was a risk factor and so I went to New York to make it armed with a demo tape and to see what happens. At that point everyone knew I was into the music but I do not think that people knew that I took it that seriously.
How did it go out there?
Every morning we were out giving my demo tape and I dropped the spiel about coming from London and it was not until the second week that we got a few call backs. I was so shocked that it was working. Another reason I went to America was because I felt that the music I was doing only people in the states would actually get it. I felt I was too soulful for London at the time. It was my manager at the time that said that you should not feel that you have not got anything to offer in London.
What has been your greatest success to date?
At the moment I would say that I have managed to stay with my band for over two years and that is a success for me because for musicians to stick with you in this day and age is amazing. I have friends and fellow artists and they always wonder how I keep my band together. It is great to have that support and loyalty.
Lastly what are we waiting for from you?
Soul for Me it will be released hopefully late summer just before winter October or November.