EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Joy Downer
Stage Right Secrets caught up with Joy Downer to chat about her debut album, musicality, and what she’s been up to while in quarantine. Read the exclusive Q&A, below.
Congrats on your debut album! What did you feel when you released it into the world?
I’m still feeling all the feelings. Everything under the sun – doubt, relief, elation, gratitude, excitement… a real roller coaster of emotions.
The record has a great flow, how do you go about creating the tracklist/track order?
Thank you – and I am glad you asked! I mastered the album with Dave Trumfio and had decided the final order that same day. “Paper Moon” (the song) sounded like the end of the album as soon as we recorded it. With the anchor in place, I knew where the album was going which helped the rest of the songs to serve the overall experience. I knew I wanted each song to roll into the next one in a way that took the listener on a musical journey/adventure of sound – rhythmically and lyrically. It took a couple switches and 20 min, but I got it!
What made you entitle it Paper Moon after the last track?
“Paper Moon” was the last song recorded at the end of this 2 year process. It is the song most personal to me, and the one I am most proud of. I am so happy to have gotten the chance to include my mom Lisa on piano, my brother Jon on guitar/vocal, voicemails from my (divorced) parents, and harmonium played by my sister Jaime.
Is there a standout line or lyric off of the album for you?
My standout lyric is “Angels lined up in audition rooms, trading in their wings for silver spoons”. As someone who battles wanting to rise in my profession, but also prioritises owning my masters and my art, that message hit me in a deep way. I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish thus far as an independent artist. It is not an easy road but if it means I have the power to call my shots – I don’t mind the challenge.
Your brand of music has so many different influences and genres, how would you describe your sound to someone who just discovered you?
I don’t tend to do that. Music to me is all about personal discovery as a listener. I find that if I tell someone what I think I sound like, it takes away from their personal experience of deciding that for themselves. I think especially because song to song, I explore a new sound, lumping it all in together would feel like a disservice.
Music is becoming harder and harder to categorize and fit into genres, should genres matter or do they for you personally?
Personally I don’t deal much in genre or where a song will be placed. But I know it helps serve as a jump off point for people looking for a certain sound or feeling. It’s really quite arbitrary and up to whoever is using the label. Take Alternative or Indie as a genre – you could find almost every type of music ever created under those two banners.
“A Song You’d Never Want To Hear” has become one of my jams, what are some songs that got you through major moments in your life that you listen to and reminisce about the past?
I am thrilled to hear that! For my jams lately – I go by mood a lot. If I am feeling mellow, I like to throw on Neon Skyline by Andy Shauf. If I am in a sassy mood, usually The Strokes is in order. When I’m sleepy at night, I listen to Sleep by Max Richter. When I want to have a dance party for one, I put the sirius xm David Bowie radio station on!
During quarantine have you binged any shows or rediscovered or discovered new music?
I watched Tales From the Loop, which I loved. Normal People was also great. I’ve been re-watching Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra with my family which are such rewarding shows.
Do you find it easier or more difficult to be in isolation, creatively?
I feel a lot of what I create is done in isolation, so I’m used to it. The main difference is that before quarantine, I was free to do the things that inspire me to create – travel, hike, socialize, etc. Those things inform my output as a creator and artist. So it has been an adjustment looking at the same four walls and having to refocus my creative lens.