Analogue Music | Joey Dosik

Joey Dosik

By Matt Conner

It took a "saxophone existential crisis" to get to this point for Joey Dosik.

It might be the first such tragic moment on record, but for Joey Dosik, a realization that his pursuit of jazz music as a saxophone was not nearly as heartening as his early days as a piano-based songwriter was the turning point for the exciting young artist newly signed to Secretly Canadian.

These days, he's found his inspiration—a combo of Marvin Gaye, Harry Nilsson and Carole King—although his own considerable talent, jazz training and soulful charisma are part and parcel of his new album, Inside Voice, as well.

If you've not yet heard Dosik, whether as a compelling solo artist or contributor with Vulfpeck, there's no time like the present. Read on for the magical year he's enjoyed and evidence of his musical brilliance.

Analogue: I just saw your tour schedule through the rest of the year includes Europe and I know the beginning of this year included your TV debut on Kimmel and other opportunities. It seems like a helluva year from the outside looking in.

Joey Dosik: It has been a helluva year. It feels like even this year and even years before this one have been building toward my album release. So it's climaxing in a way for this record I've been working on for a really long time. The cool thing about going on tour will be sustaining that realization of this music and the album and the fact that I've wanted to leave my hard drive and arrive in people's ears—to exist in real space and not just in computer world. That's all very exciting.

Analogue: You said this year and previous years. Does this go back to childhood for you?

Joey: Sure. I've always dreamed about making records and this is my first full-length. I've waited a long time to do it because I'm the kind of person who needs to feel as close to 100 percent about something as possible. It took me a long time to write songs and play them in a way that felt authentic to me to find my sound, to find something that resonated. I've put out two EPs, one that I pretend doesn't exist from a long time ago [Laughs] and the other is my Game Winner EP.

An album is a rite of passage. It's a format established by the music industry but it's also one that's been mastered by my heroes. Being able to put my own record out there into the world and give it a shot is something I've been waiting to do for a very long time. I can't believe it's almost here.

Analogue: How was that process to find your own sound? Have other attempts felt derivative until now?

Joey: I grew up playing piano and singing and then got really into the saxophone. I fell into this jazz saxophone path for a while that lasted until I was about 20. Then I had a little saxophone existential crisis where I realized the thing that always brought me the most joy was to play piano and to sing songs and try to write them. That started the process for a new expression and study of songs, of singing, of production, of playing different instruments.

In the course of all of that, there was of experimentation and even imitation. I was trying on hats, these sounds that were cool or seemed like things I wanted to explore. All the while, I was learning how to maximize tone or lyrics or song form or whatever. The short answer is that in the course of writing songs, you gotta write a lot of shitty songs. I just barreled through and tried to do as much as I could until I started to find something that I was proud of and that I felt I could give a shot to sharing it with people.

I don't really feel like I'll ever make music that doesn't feel authentic to me. It's just whether or not I feel proud enough to share it with other people.

Analogue: A lot of artists will bring everyone along for that same journey by releasing albums but you kept all of that hidden. Had you thought about that before?

Joey Dosik
Joey Dosik

Joey: I think I have thought about putting more stuff out. I also want to make it clear that I don't think I've arrived at some point I'll never stray from. I found something that, on a songwriting and production level, just makes sense to me. I found a muse. When I go to make my next record, I'll take what I've learned here and search for my next muse. For this record, the muse was music from my childhood, the songwriting and messaging of Carole King to the voice and energy and messaging of Marvin Gaye and the creativity and lyrical content and voice of Harry Nilsson. Those were my holy trinity, of sorts, and yet it's still something that sounds like it was recorded in 2018.

Analogue: What does the cutting room floor look like then?

Joey: That's a great question. It varies from songs that were started and never finished to fully-finished songs that I didn't think made the grade to fully-finished tracks that were very close to making the album. I just felt like they didn't fit but I still plan on using the track or song for my next project. It's all of the above.

Analogue: Earlier you used the phrase "saxophone existential crisis" which I've never heard before. [Laughs] How has that investment or time spent positively influenced where you're at now?

Joey: I don't know if it's directly influenced except to say that my study of jazz music serves as the building block of my musical knowledge of melody, harmony and rhythm. As a saxophone player, I was playing a lot of melody. That's what I did a lot as a kid. When you sing, you're singing the top line, the melody, and the saxophone serves the same purpose. So I think studying helped me develop my conception and style of delivering melody. So when I had that crisis, I went back to my first instrument which was piano and also started to learn other instruments like bass and drums. I started studying production and songwriting and started getting in touch with the other building blocks of music.

Analogue: Given what you said earlier about the long wait to get here, I'm curious about your emotions at this point just before the release.

Joey: It's hard to think of one word to describe. I'm kind of in awe. I can't believe that it's actually happening. We announced it was happening three months ago. We put out a single and a video and, at that point, a lot of my fans were like, 'This is awesome. We love it, but we can't believe we have to wait three months for it.' At the time I thought "whatever" because I'd been waiting so much longer. But now I'm getting a taste of my own medicine because waiting these last few days has me like, 'Oh my god, I'm ready for it to happen.'