On the eve of his debut album, we caught up with the popstar to talk about his sonic experiences and journey to the project.
In the last few years, we've seen the rise of Afrobeat superstars of a much younger generation rising to the forefront. Incredible stars like Rema, Santi, Fireboy, Odunsi, are taking the world by storm. There’s a crossover of African sounds as genres like Afropop are being reimagined by these new rising stars, and there’s so much they have to showcase to the world. One of these refreshing young minds redefining the world of Afrobeats and RnB is Joeboy, an act that has become one of the top new voices in Nigeria since his breakout in 2019.
Having grown up in a music-loving family where he, his father, brother, and sister were all in the choir, his love for music was clear to have developed over time. With a few not-so-bold forays into the music industry, he made the cover to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of you” that would inadvertently change the course of his life. It was this cover that caught the attention of emPawa Africa boss, Mr Eazi, and scored him a deal with his talent incubator for emerging African artists. Shortly after, Joeboy released his chart-topping project, Love and Light EP which gave birth to hits like 'Don't call me back', 'Baby', and 'Beginning', garnered 100 of millions of streams, sold out shows around Africa, and accrued him a legion of fans.
With this level of success, Joeboy is undeniably on his way to becoming one of the country’s freshest crop of superstars. On the eve of his long-awaited debut album, Somewhere Between Beauty and Magic, we caught up with the young popstar to talk about his sonic experiences and the journey to the album.
B.Side: 2020 was a crazy year. How did you cope in such a weird year?
Joeboy: It was a really tough time for me. I love traveling and touring and getting to perform for thousands of screaming fans and I couldn’t because of the lockdown. I was supposed to travel just before the lockdowns began and I got really sad because I couldn’t do the things I enjoyed and was looking forward to. But you know, over time I had to cheer myself up.
Nevertheless, you were able to release hit singles like “Call” and Lonely”, as well as collaborations with DJ Neptune and Larry Gaaga. How did it feel to come out successful during such tumultuous times?
Being able to collaborate with DJ Neptune and Larry Gaaga was really beautiful because these are people that I’ve looked up to and I respect a lot in the music industry. It’s a blessing to be able to be part of such a massive industry and create in the same space as people I look up to. Also, when I wrote “Lonely”, it was during the lockdown period, when everyone had to be indoors and I couldn’t see or spend quality time with my loved ones and friends as much as I wanted to. So, I decided to make a song about how I felt and that was how the song was created.
Your debut album, Somewhere between Beauty and Magic, is set to be released tonight. What’s the inspiration behind it?
Most of my inspiration comes from the events, places, and people I experience. I love to travel and experience new things and that helps my creative process. The tracks that were recorded during and after the lockdown, I had to motivate myself and draw inspiration from the things around me.
What frame of mind were you in when you made this project?
I think the length of time I spent recording the album took a while because I kept swapping and replacing songs off the project because I was in different moods. Sometimes I was happy, sometimes I was sad, sometimes I was excited because I was just trying to put different moods into it. But when it came down to delivering the music, I made sure it had that good happy vibe.
In what ways has your music evolved since your Love & Light EP?
My music has evolved a lot. I am more confident with sounds and I’m more experimental with them as well. I’m more mature with the way I deliver my sound and that’s the way it has evolved over time.
What do you want the listeners to take away from this album?
When people listen to the album, I want them to feel happy, I want them to feel great, I want them to always have that good vibe. That wonderful feeling; that feeling you get when you wake up in the morning with a good mind. You open your window in the morning and you see clear skies and a sunny day. I want you to feel good when you listen to my album because there’s a lot of bad energy and bad vibes out there and I just want to be one of the sources of light and happiness in the world.
Why did you choose to have no features?
Firstly, there’s the deluxe version that has features and it’s dropping very soon. So, I really wanted people to have a complete feel of me. You know now, it’s my debut album and I just wanted everyone to feel me. Also, there were some vocals for features I was looking forward to and I couldn’t get them before my deadline. But it’s definitely going to be on the deluxe version and I’m really excited about that.
What are your plans for after the album’s release?
I am really looking forward to the lockdown and travel restrictions lifted so I can tour and perform for my fans and experience them enjoy the songs off the album.