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As we approach the end of 2022, this Tone Deaf series celebrates some of the artists from Australia, New Zealand and beyond that have impressed us this year. The music industry may be slowly returning to normal, but the past few years have been tough on musicians. The artists in this series are proof that creativity always endures, even in uncertain times.

This year saw the unexpected but welcome return of Scottish crooner Paolo Nutini after an eight year absence with his fourth album Last Night Night in the Bittersweet.

When he then performed a run of shows at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro, it felt fitting that he chose Joesef to be his support, because the soulful singer-songwriter really feels like his heir apparent, although he sounds more natural in far more poppier territory.

With sweet vocals and heartbreakingly relatable lyrics, the rising star is about to break out with his debut album, Permanent Damage, set to be released in January, but he’s already made the BBC Sound of 2020 long list and worked with Loyle Carner in his nascent career.

And with an infectious personality bred in Glasgow that’s well-suited to garnering a following on social media – see his TikTok videos here – 2023 should be a big year for Joesef.

2022 saw the release of tender but danceable singles like ‘Joe’, ‘East End Coast’ and ‘It’s Been a Little Heavy Lately’, which bodes well for the overall quality of Permanent Damage. As Joesef explains, the album is “about grieving for a version of myself that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get back.”

“Permanent Damage is about fighting in the street on the way home, kissing in the taxi, having nothing to say in the morning. Holding grief in your hands and carrying it with you indefinitely,” he adds, and it’s a relatable scene that could be played out on a late night on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, Melbourne’s Smith Street or anywhere in between.

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Ahead of the release of Permanent Damage, we caught up with Joesef to find out more about his life and music, which you can read below (his recent conversation with fellow Glaswegian and Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart for Rolling Stone UK, in which they discuss their shared backgrounds, sexuality and artistic pursuits, is also worth checking out).

Joesef’s Permanent Damage is out on January 13th. Pre-order here.


How did your artist name come about?

Joesef is my actual name, no second name. Like Cher. Or McLovin.

How would you describe your music to your grandma?

My gran was one of those old ladies who would tell you if something was horse shit, so I don’t think I’d ever have the guts to have played her any of my stuff.  She was more of a Patsy Cline type of gal anyway.

Tell us about a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?

I have a song called ‘Joe’ which is about myself.  A lot of my songs centre around relationships with other people, but this one in particular was about the negative relationship I have with myself.

‘Just Come Home With Me Tonight’ is probably one of my favourites off the album.  It’s directly about a situation I was in when I met my ex at a party for the first time since we broke up. I think he’d started speaking to someone else and I’d noticed the way he looked at me was different. That light we had for each other felt absent, which was completely devastating.

What do you love about your hometown?

Glasgow is known for its people.  Furiously passionate with a keen sense of smell for bullshit.  I love the sense of community that is still felt there, it’s the kind of place people look after each other.  When I first got into music the people in Glasgow rallied around me, and completely held me up.  We are a proud bunch that revel in each other’s wins and losses.

Career highlight so far?

I sold out the biggest venues in my hometown, also Shepherd’s Bush in London. I’ve toured with Rina Sawayama, and sold out shows in New York and LA..  I also made a tune with Loyle Carner which was an amazing experience.


help #fyp #newmusic

♬ borderline – Joesef

Fave non-music hobby?

I’m not even joking, it’s literally just boozing with my mates. And reading.

What’s on your dream rider?

I’ve heard some people have chesterfields and shaggy rugs on their rider, or even things like puppys.  I wouldn’t mind a shaggy rug to be fair, but to be honest would just love something that isn’t a cheese ploughman’s sandwich.

Dream music collaboration?

I love Tyler, the Creator, I’ve literally been obsessed since I was about 15.  I keep putting it into the universe. I’m waiting for him to call me any day now.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully not dead, maybe I’ll live on a farm and have some cattle. Fuck knows.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’, or Spice Girls’ Spice Up Your Life’ of course.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

You’re never as good or bad as people say you are. And opinions are not facts.

What’s one obsession you have that no one would guess after listening to your music?

I’ve been obsessed with the Spice Girls since I was about 3.

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