Toronto based artist Joël got his start in the R&B world early on from singing in the church choir to writing his own songs. From what seemed to be something minor as far as singing in the choir, he then began to take his crafts to the next level with his hit “Trying to hear you but…” which earned major praise from The Joe Budden Podcast!
As Joël is rising within the industry he has received cosigns from well known media outlets such as Dj Booth, Revolt TV, Pigeons & Planes just to name a few!
Check out our exclusive interview below:
Mikala: Hey, first and foremost I do want to tell you that I am overwhelmed with excitement! I am a huge fan of Alternative R&B and I listened to your music before this interview took place…I’m just…super excited!
Joël: Wow, wow thank you! I appreciate it!
Mikala: How are you holding up during this quarantine?
Joël: I’m cool! Not really much has changed, I like to stay inside and do the whole music thing. I actually just recently moved and stuff like that so I’m still trying to set up, everything is closed so It’s not what I would like it to be but I’m surviving, I’m blessed!
Mikala: Have you incorporated some self care routines!?
Joël: Yeah, working out, eating healthier! I’m trying to read a bit more but not as much as I would like to but just keep my mental space clear you know!
Mikala: I mean it’s honestly the perfect time since we can’t do anything anyways!
Joël: Yeah! I feel that people are doing the most(Laughs)!
Mikala: Oh my gosh…Yes! But we can get into that later because whew…
Mikala: You’re from Toronto!? What was it like for you growing up in Toronto?
Joël: I grew up in the East Center of Toronto it’s a town called Ajax. It’s like a suburban area, pretty chill, you know. It’s not downtown where the cities are, it’s not as busy, it’s a bit more quiet. A lot of parks and fucking land and shit..it was chill!
Mikala: So what got you into music?
Joël: I grew up in the church. I was always around that environment. I was always around a lot of music. When i was young I was a really hyper kid so my mom put me in the children’s choir. They would call me up Christmas time to do a solo, after I seen the reaction, I feel like that’s when I found out I had some talent but the thing that made me pursue it was definitely watching BET, thinking to myself like “Yooo, I can do that shit”!
Mikala: Did your parents recognize your talent?
Joël: Yeah! I feel like…I don’t know…I guess it was like the cute thing to do! You know what I mean. All the older heads in the church were like oh my god look at this little kid singing and stuff he sounds so good! It went from there. My mom always knew I could sing!
Mikala: I saw that you were a songwriter as well! Did you start writing your own songs first and then going to the studio? How did that process work out for you?
Joël: I started writing songs first! When I was in the house I used to mess around with my bro, my bro used to play the organ in church or whatever. We would always make up random shit and memorize it when we were hella young! I definitely took it way more seriously the first time I got into the studio!
Mikala: What made you want to take it to the next level and actually record your songs?
Joël: To be honest, I think I was always ready as cliche as that sounds. I believe everything happens for a reason and I feel like everyone has a purpose on this Earth! It happened so randomly, I was about 13-14 kicking it with older folks so my cousin told his homie I had a great voice and he was like “yooo, come to the studio”! We made a song and after that we connected, it was pretty dope! Before that I used to do YouTube videos and things like that. I always tried to put myself out there in some sort of way!
Mikala: Wow, that’s awesome!
Mikala: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Joël: A LOT of Jasmine Sullivan, Kim Burell, Ray Charles! As an artist..Chris Brown especially back in the day, elementary, when 106 & Park was the thing. He’s one of the guys that made me think “yo I can do this shit too”! When it comes to penning shit down…Frank Ocean, Little Wayne, J. Moss.
Mikala: Mannn…you have some good picks right there! Especially Frank Ocean! I Love him.
Mikala: How’s the music scene in Toronto right now?
Joël: Ah I feel like once you’re in the music scene it’s small. I feel like everyone lowkey knows everybody. Everyone is trying to do music and get out there and stuff so you run into a lot of the same people. Whether it’s like writing camps or sessions but it’s really chill. It’s not as competitive as LA but it’s competitive.
Mikala: I do have a favorite Canadian artist. K.Forest!
Joël: He’s so dope!
Mikala: I just can’t wait for people to get familiar because like I said alternative R&B has so many depths! You have Kelela, Raaheim, Kirby! It’s so many levels to it!
Joël: Yeah, yeah FACTS! 100%. K.Forest put a playlist up on Spotify and he added me and I hit him up like “Yooo, thank you bruh” ever since then I checked out his shit! My dudes dope!
Mikala: I’m really curious to know before you record is there any routine that you have to do to get your mind right?
Joël: Not really, a physical routine before I go in the booth I want to get my heart pumping if that makes since? I’ll do push ups, jumping jacks!
Mikala: Dope! Now let’s talk about “I’m really trying to hear you”! That is my joint right there!
Joël: That’s one of my favorite songs right now! That means a lot!
Mikala: I want to know everything about that song and what it means to you!
Joël: I started that song in LA me and my producer. He’s dope this guy named Collin we started it out and did it together. I was freestyling on the mic and doing the melody, and stuff like that. At the time I had no words for it. Later on when I got to Toronto and I was kind of going through shit to write to that just kind of came up. I had recently got out of a situation, basically she broke my trust in like a way I couldn’t let her back in my life, it’s about that. “I’m really tryna hear out” but you did all of this and because of that it can’t be what it use to… you know!
Mikala: It came out Feb 14th! Did you mean to drop it on Valentine’s Day!?
Joël: For sure! I definitely meant to drop it on Valentine’s Day. It’’s not really about love it’s essentially the opposite! It’s like I love you but I can’t love you no more. Everyone’s dropping songs about love, sex, I was like “Yo, let me speak something different”!
Mikala: You know, I can tell it was some passion behind it even from the title within itself. You listen to those lyrics and they were so into depth!
Joël: Yeah real shit! You know when you fuck up, like really fuck up and it’s like you know you lost something or someone special. At that moment you feel shitty and it’s like you try to do everything in your power to get that person or that thing back. It’s basically that, that being on the other side of it and “Yo I’m sorry but it is what it is! I want to hear you out but just because of the man that I am I just…I love myself you know!
Mikala: Wow! Thank you for blessing us with that!
Joël: No, thank you!
Mikala: It was recently played on Joe Budden’s podcast! How did you feel when you heard it?
Joël: Yo! That was crazy. I’m not even going to lie…that was crazyyyy. That day I had a bunch of people hitting me up and they were like “They played your song on The Joe Budden Podcast”! I was like… what!… what!? I checked it out, I hit up my manager I told him to check it out. It was surreal!
Mikala: That’s so awesome! I do want to get into your EP “The Grunge Gospel”! What made you want to incorporate Gospel and R&B together?
Joël: It all came about like I said I grew up in that Gospel environment so…I’m a PK, my dad’s a pastor! As I got older and met with different people like experiences especially the producers I work with now. They grew up on the opposite end of me, Grunge, rock! To be honest they put me onto a lot of the Grunge music that I fuck with today! At the time it was my head space. I was listening to a lot of that type of music and honestly that Gospel, R&B was instilled in me, that soulful sound.
Mikala: Being that you come from a Christian Background did you ever consider being a gospel artist!?
Joël: Not really…that’s a really good question! Going to Church back in the day was a chore for me. It wasn’t fun for me! The funnest part about going to Church for me was Praise and Worship! I use to play the drums too! Yeah, that’s the part that I love! I loved the music part of it, I loved the harmonies and instruments cause Yo, they wild out!
Joël: Black Churches, WE WILD OUT! If anything it gave me more of a conscience. I’m not the best person or whatever, I live my life too! I feel like I would reach more people singing about my life experience, basically singing about what’s in front of me! I feel like it would be more authentic that way. It’s basically like going into the deep! If you stand into a small pond and only sing about the same thing and only stay in this community, you’ll only go so far.
Mikala: I think that’s really dope! The fact that you’re able to mix R&B but you can still tell that you sung in the church! I can always tell who sings in the church because that voice! It sounds really heavenly.
Joël: Thank you!!
Mikala: I do want to cover a few topics with you! Do you feel as though a lot of people aren’t familiar with Alternative R&B!?
Joël: Mmm… I feel like now alternative R&B is growing more so than ever. R&B I feel you don’t even have to know how to sing anymore! Niggas like TrippieRedd, JuiceWRLD (R.I.P) are making R&B songs and they’re not the traditional R&B singers! It’s a bit more left field, it’s a bit more grungy! It’s considered R&B because of the soft piano or the guitars or the different type of instruments they’re using! If anything I think It’s grown a bit more! Back in the day, the early 2000’s people that couldn’t sing on records would’ve got clowned on!
Mikala: What would say makes R&B alternative!?
Joël: (pause) Rules! Not giving a fuck about the rules, be more free with it. The different sounds. To make an R&B song sound a certain way, there’s a certain structure, there’s a certain feel to it. Walk outside of the box a little bit, make it left field. I feel like it becomes alternative!
Joël: What’s your definition of Alternative R&B? Because that was a good question and I’m still trying to figure it out myself!
Mikala: I would say beat wise for sure! With Alternative the lyrics aren’t surfaced they’re very into depth…It’s really hard to express it’s just so much to say (laughs)!
Joël: (Laughs) Yeah It’s definitely a lot of trying new things!
Mikala: You personally, what type of transition do you think R&B is going right now?
Joël: I’m actually liking it! I feel like there’s a lot of new people, a lot of new music coming out! I feel like a lot of Rappers are becoming singers and a lot of singers are becoming rappers. OG’s are dropping songs that are way faster now…I think it’s dope! I like the experimenting that’s going on right now!
Mikala: Speaking of new you’re single coming out “Woes”! Can you tell me about that!?
Joël: Yeah it’s pretty much just about not tolerating negative comments or negative energy! It’s busting back and popping out you chest like “nah, imma be me regardless”!
Mikala: Besides “Woes” do you have any projects we can be expecting in 2020?
Joël: Be expecting a lot of MUSIC (Laughs)!
Mikala: What are some goals that you have as an artist for this Year?
Joël: Do more! Trying to be better than yesterday you know what I mean!? Self growth, put out more music, do more shows, meet more people! Build and connect with more people!
Keep up with Joël via : https://www.instagram.com/blamejoel/