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Brick Lane Jazz festivall 2023


Saturday 13th April ✦ 2:30pm 

Juju’s Bar & Stage

April 13, 2023

Having released Empty Spaces in 2020, and Flightcase in 2021 Josef Akin have  two new EPs set to be released in 2023 with the first single Flyjar being released this past April 7th. Joe's music stunningly incorporates the fee and uniqueness of jazz which masterfully blends the elements of live performance and bedroom sounds.

This year the Brick Lane Jazz Festival will take place in the heart of the historic East End of London and will cover 7 incredible venues over 3 days featuring a host of world renowned musicians. You can find more information about the festival here.

Hi Joe, it's really amazing to talk with you, are you excited about taking part in the 2023 Brick Lane Jazz Festival?


Hello. Likewise, thanks for having me. Yes definitely, it feels great to be coming down from Glasgow for it especially when there's so many great acts on the bill. I'm excited to play but also to watch some of the other musicians and bands. London gigs always feel special to me as that's my hometown. 


At this years Brick Lane Jazz Festival you're going to be performing some music from your upcoming EP, can you tell me a little bit about this new music and what we can expect?


Yes, so I'm dropping two EPs this year, all music I recorded last April with the band. I've been working on it steadily since then and doing a lot of production on the stuff, before I went and mixed it with my old friend and collaborator BDJ. The two EPs are quite different, the first one, "Enymore", coming out in June, is a more minimal release - I stripped the band back for a lot of these tunes, mostly trying to focus on having quite fat sounding drums and bass, with one lead voice, whether that's myself on keys, Harry Weir on tenor sax or Dan Ashton aka Goku on flute. Then I layered lots of keys and synths and vocals to try to give a kinda cosmic feel. But ye, overall I'd say the sound of this first EP is influenced by the fatness and minimalism of a lot of electronic music, integrated into a kind of jazz setting. 


The second upcoming EP, due for release late autumn, is probably closer to my previous album "Flightcase", it's got more of a full, live sound and the whole band are playing on most of the tunes. This second EP features the voices of INDIA BLUE and Anoushka Nanguy, two amazing singers who I love working and performing with, which gives the whole thing a different vibe, with a lot more focus on voices, whether lead with lyrics or backing.


As a composer/performer how much has your approach to your music changed since at Empty Spaces in 2020 and Flightcase in 2021?


I feel like the upcoming EP, "Enymore", is probably caught somewhere in the middle. "Empty Spaces" I made a long time ago, and barring a couple of small features, is mostly just me messing around with instruments and voice. I made it all on my laptop. "Flightcase" the process was completely different, I composed it all on my laptop but from then on it was all live, and I never even had the recording files on my laptop, it literally went straight from recording to mixing with my good friend Luigi Pasquini. It was a great experience but I knew that the next time I recorded I wanted the ability to have all the sessions on my laptop and shape the music more after recording. A lot of changes happened in the process. So ye in that sense the upcoming stuff was somewhere between the processes of the first two releases. I think going forward this is probably my preferred method.

When taking part in a festival like this, I have to ask, do nerves ever set in ahead of a performance?


Yes definitely. Usually after a song or two I settle down though.


Do you have any superstitions or traditions you like to do before going out on stage?


I usually just jump up and down and shake my body for about a minute to get the blood flowing. I don't know if it helps haha.


How did Josef Akin come about?


I've made beats and stuff on my laptop since I was like 15. My older brother is a great musician and was pretty active musically when I was a teenager, it definitely inspired me to want to do the same. But I didn't really decide to take music seriously until I was like 23 or 24. It started with the creation of a band called Amara, with Dan Ashton, Norman Villeroux and Finn Rosenbaum (all who play on my project as well), which was/is a collaborative improv band. But I was still making stuff myself and knew I wanted an outlet for myself where I could have full creative control. I already had loads of music, I just didn't have anything to do with it. So I created the alias Josef Akin, which is literally supposed to mean 'akin to Joe'. When I started it I didn't really imagine it becoming a full band and jazz project though. 


"Obviously with so much music coming out over the next year I'm just trying to build things really so ye, if I can get more people interested in what I'm doing I'll be happy with that."

Where did you love for jazz come from and how much have places like London and Glasgow helped to influence your music?


I think I grew up on a real variety of music - my family are all music lovers and as the youngest I was getting shown lots of different stuff. But I always listened to a lot of hip-hop. I remember when The Love Below/Speakerboxx by Outkast came out, me and my mum and brother listened to it twice through back to back on a long drive, I loved that album. Then I think over time I started becoming interested in where a lot of the samples in hip-hop were coming from and that was probably my pathway to jazz. 


Obviously everyone knows about the London jazz scene over the last however many years and that definitely inspired me to make the jump from wanting to produce music to wanting to form a band. But the Glasgow scene is thriving at the moment too, the first four years I lived there I wasn't really involved in music at all nor was I really aware of a jazz scene. But gradually I started meeting and playing with people and now there is a proper community up there, a lot of amazing bands and musicians, loads of good nights on. And it's a very supportive scene, I've never felt like I need to try and be a certain thing or make a certain style, everyones just doing their thing. I'm also fortunate enough to play in several other great bands like Amara, Rebecca Vasmant Ensemble, Azamiah, GABO and GOkU.


What was the experience like for you and the band to do a Jazz Re:Freshed session and then follow it with a performance at the iconic Ronnie Scott's?


Ye, it was a mad 6 months or so. Obviously I always watched Jazz Re:Freshed and went to a few while I was still living in London, so that was always a goal of mine to do one. So when that came through I was like, alright I must be doing something right then. That was during the back end of lockdown so unfortunately there was no live audience, it was just a video. But was still a sick experience and was cool to meet all the crew at Jazz Re:Freshed. And then a few months after that an offer for a main show at Ronnie's came through, which was mad. And that was a special night, obviously as it was in London all my family and boys from home could come. Was a real nice vibe and the band all killed it so ye, that was definitely a highlight for me with this project so far.


And finally, what would you like your audiences on Saturday to take away from your show?


I'm hoping to just introduce the project to a new crowd and get some more people to follow what's going on. Obviously with so much music coming out over the next year I'm just trying to build things really so ye, if I can get more people interested in what I'm doing I'll be happy with that. Also happy to be bringing down a team of sick Glasgow-based musicians, so hopefully can shine a light on some of what's going on up there.

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