Fresh off the back of his first major UK tour, including sold out shows in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scottish soul-pop artist Joesef is feeling anything but fresh himself.

“Yesterday was our last gig of the tour,” says the 26-year-old from Glasgow’s East End. He admits he’s got a bit of a cold and apologises for ‘sounding like Pat Butcher’.

“It was our bandmate’s birthday, so we went out after the show last night, and I got the train around 5am this morning back to the gaff. The tour was amazing, but I do feel like an empty Capri-Sun,” he laughs.

The National:

Joesef, who now lives in London, has been propelled into the limelight over the past two years. In this short space of time he has secured nominations for BBC Sound of 2020, Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award, and supported singer-songwriter Arlo Parks on her recent sold-out tour of venues throughout the UK.

He acknowledges his own recent sell-out show at his native Barrowland Ballroom in Trongate, Glasgow, as being a personal career highlight.

“Playing at the Barrowlands a couple of weeks ago was amazing – I was so shellshocked after the gig,” he says. “It was my first time playing there and the venue just means so much to me. Being from Glasgow and playing in your hometown – there’s honestly nothing like it.

“That was a definite highlight for me – I can’t describe the feeling … I just remember the noise of the screaming being so loud. It’s like the cleanest high you’ll ever get in your life. I can see why people get addicted to it.”

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As well as being an avid fan of the Barrowland Ballroom, Joesef expresses a loyal devotion to independent venues throughout the country. As a result, Independent Venue Week announced him as its new Scottish ambassador.

“Touring places now and going into some independent venues and some bigger ones, you really notice a massive difference – some venues just feel a bit soulless, but you don’t really get that when you’re playing in the likes of the Barrowlands or even King Tuts,” he says.

“I just feel independent venues have something that is so special – they’re like institutions and they can become so iconic that it makes people take notice a bit more, you just can’t get rid of them.

“It’s also important to me because my career started in King Tuts.”

The National:

In 2019, Joesef began releasing music clips online, with the intention of creating a degree of curiosity and intrigue, and to establish if there was any appetite for his music. Without having released any recordings, Joesef’s managers booked King Tut’s venue in Glasgow for his debut show and were shocked when the gig sold out.

“I feel like I blacked out at that first gig in King Tuts and woke up after it was done … the nerves were real,” he laughs. “That started it all.”

In the middle of 2019, Joesef started working with record label AWAL, which meant he had to leave his full-time job as a barman in a heavy metal bar (The Solid Rock Café) in Glasgow’s city centre.

Despite confessing to being “a bit of a late bloomer” as far as music is concerned, his emotionally honest songs have struck a chord with his fans.

His debut EP ‘Play Me Something Nice’, and the 2020 EP ‘Does It Make You Feel Good?’ – which he created during lockdown last year – are both inspired by heartbreak and tinged with a soulful, playful melancholy.

He explains: “It’s a cliché but being sad or being depressed fuels the fire of being creative. I feel like a lot of good art or music is born out of hard times, that’s the same for a lot of artists and it’s the same for me. Whenever I’m feeling sh**e or hungover, I can usually knock a tune out.

“I write about heartbreak and love, which is a universal experience. I think it’s by default that people can relate to it … everyone’s had their heart broken, most people have texted their ex when they’re hungover.”

The National:

Joesef is a rising talent whose music connects to audiences, particularly younger listeners who appreciate the unapologetically honest lyrics which blend soulfully with the lo-fi pop instrumentals.

He credits his upbringing as a reason for his emotional honesty in his songs. “I’m from quite a rough area – what you see is what you get,” he admits.

“I think being brought up in Glasgow, it forces you to be really honest and confront a lot of things, and I think people can feel that when you’re performing which makes them connect with the music easier.”

Despite having no industry connections or professional training, Joesef managed to achieve a fan following almost instantly. And he seems to have accomplished this without compromising on his authentic characteristics.

“All you can really be is yourself and remember that there is nobody else like you,” he reflects.

“If all you can be is yourself then you’re more likely to stand out. If you try to copy other people or do what you think people will be interested in, you end up just sounding like everyone else anyway.”

Having grown up in Garthamlock, he also cites his mother’s musical preferences as having a big impact on his soul-pop style of music.

“My mum had quite an eclectic mix of soul, she loved Al Green and The Mamas & The Papas but also artists like The Specials and The Spice Girls as well,” he explains. “My mum always had good music playing in the house, so I was never short for inspiration when I was growing up.”

Having clocked up millions of streams, and a larger overseas tour planned for most of next year, with new music also coming out soon, how is the emerging star handling this sudden change of lifestyle?

“It’s great knowing that people are paying attention. But I can still go into the shop and buy a loaf and milk – when that stops happening, I’ll maybe start freaking out.”