Joe Lewis

Based: Newport
Genre: Alt/Indie
Website: joelewismusic.com

Joe Lewis is a singer/songwriter from Newport who has recently released his debut EP ‘Branches’ as a free download from his BandCamp page. After listening to the EP I would urge each and every one of you to grab yourself a copy and then feel slightly guilty for having this collection of songs for free.

Standout tracks on the EP include ‘Branches’, a sweet infectious song with carefully crafted vocal harmonies and thoughtful guitar playing. ‘Uphill’ sees Joe pouring his emotions into song whilst ‘Second Home’ is a lovely atmospheric, dreamy song that you will want to listen to over and over again. ‘Second Home’ ends the EP, and feels as though Joe Lewis has saved the best to last.

‘Branches’ is a wonderful collection of songs that leaves you wanting to hear more.

We caught up with Joe to chat about his musical inspirations, side projects and the future.

What are your earliest memories of music?

I remember listening to Madness on my Dad’s record player when I was about 7. I think that was the first time I heard music that was ‘alternative’. I would sing in school concerts and that, but I remember being about 12 or 13, and my friends and me covered Nirvana in a school talent show. It probably sounded awful, but we felt amazing.

Was there a defining moment in your life when you thought, “that’s it, I want to be a musician!”

I’ve not really had a specific moment, but lots of little ones. My auntie bought me Michael Jackson’s Thriller album when I was 8, and that was one of the first time’s that I thought, I want to be able to write songs like this. I’ve always had the underlying urge to be a musician because making music makes me happy.

What is the creative driving force behind your music?

I often write songs about things that are happening in my life and try to be as positive as possible. Writing song’s helps me make sense of various situations so I try to tell a story and ensure that there is a conclusion lyrically. I recently put out a free EP entitled ‘Branches’ which was written whilst my younger sister was receiving treatment for cancer, so that whole EP is about surviving and trying to be as positive as possible in a horrible situation.

How do you approach songwriting and do you need to be in a certain ‘place’ to get creative?

I often find it difficult to finish whole songs. I’ll start writing one song and then get an idea for another, start that, then think of something I started last week and end up with a million half written songs. I’m constantly writing and demoing new material at home though and trying to cut down on my half finished song collection. Sometimes I’ll have an idea whilst out somewhere and start writing a song in my head, which makes me not very good company for the people I’m with.

What has been the highlight of your musical career so far?

A highlight for me was setting up Pierpoint Records which is my non profit record label which supports Teenage Cancer Trust. We released a Christmas compilation last year featuring loads of my favorite bands and raised hundreds of pounds for an amazing cause. I had a track on the compilation too.

Historically Newport has always had a strong music scene. What are your views on the current scene?

It swings both ways. It’s easy to look back on the days of TJ’s being open and having regular touring bands in Newport and think why is that not happening now? It’s also pretty sad to see that Le Pub is going to be sold. I’ve played and seen so many amazing shows in that venue and it makes me incredibly sad that it may no longer exist. However, the venue owner Sam is trying to buy the venue with the help of Sŵn and this shows how awesome the scene can be, and shows that people are fighting to keep it alive. I know that the NCLA will be reopened as a music venue soon, and I’m sure that this will also help keep bands playing in Newport. We have some awesome bands based here too, Save Your Breath, The Vestals and The Boy Royals, so I feel pretty positive about it. I’m sure that despite the current negativity, it will get better because there are still a lot of people in Newport who care about the music scene.

What are your views on the current health of music?

The current health of music is pretty good. You just gotta by pass all that ‘popping bottles in da club’ stuff. I think it’s really good that the UK has so many independent festivals now too. It’s giving independent bands, artists and listeners a different platform for their music.

If I was your 14yr old nephew (bare with me), which one album would you send me home with to begin my musical journey?

I would give you Idlewild – The Remote Part. Every time I listen to that album I hear something new, and I’ve listened to it a lot of times! Idlewild are amazing and I think the combination of being able to write those big chorus’s whilst keeping the storytelling aspect is something I would pass on to you ma boy!

Have you been to any good gigs lately? Anyone we should be keeping an eye on?

I went to 2000 Trees festival recently and saw some really good bands. Maybeshewill were incredible as were Harbour and The People The Poet. I recently played a show alongside a nice man called Sam, who’s musical name is Elephant & Soldier. His voice was insane (in a good way) and I’d definitely recommend checking him out. 

What does the future hold for Joe Lewis, both short term and long term?

The plan for me is to keep recording and releasing records. I’m currently working on demos for an album. Some tour supports and festivals would be nice too.

Steve C

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