Josie Man’s “Colours” opens with a breezy whistle, easing into a bubblegum daydream she says feels just like the inside of her head. “Small town, small girl, but man she got some big dreams,” she sings airily, resting on a cloud in pink satin and tulle in the accompanying video, with glitter tears on her cheeks and clusters of diamanté gems in each ear. Iridescent lights soften the frame as it melts into the chorus: “Oh I could see your colours if you let me / I could be myself if you would let me / You’ve been dominated by your nightmares / And now you try to poison me with all your fears…” “If I can accept you, can you please accept me?” Man says of the song’s message, when we speak exactly one month after its release in November. “Basically, when I go out, I get a lot of stares. People laugh at me, point at me, take pictures of my shoes, and obviously it gets me down sometimes, because it’s not very nice for a stranger to laugh in your face,” she explains delicately. “It’s basically about accepting people for who they are and being nice to them. Just understand that, if that’s where they want to be, then that should be fine.”
Enter the sugar-sweet world of the London-based musician in her debut EP “aLOVINGboothang”.
In conversation, the 21-year-old emits the same warmth and brightness as she does in “Colours”, reiterating a message that feels worlds away from the preachy declarations of self-love that too often pepper our social media feeds. Man’s music is her way of inviting us into the pure, all-accepting space she’s created for herself throughout years of feeling like the outside world refused to; her own saccharine galaxy draped in nostalgia for the freedom of her school disco days, where girly is godly, gaudy is never excessive, and your old Bratz dolls have never felt so glam (she sometimes sings with baby blue electric guitar decorated with Bratz stickers,
and we stan). Man knows exactly what she likes and how to have fun with that, and in turn, she’s starting out with an artistic identity that’s more concise than most could dream up with entire marketing teams.
With the arrival of her debut EP “aLOVINGboothang” this February, Man is letting us in on more of her world, and her latest single, “Baby Pink and Blue”, delves into the ways in which developing a strong sense of self has enriched her personal life and relationships. “That one’s about my boyfriend. Basically, I’m obsessed with him,” she laughs giddily, explaining: “He gives me the chance to be free in myself… I thought that when you got into a relationship you do things together and you become one, whereas with this relationship we’re both independent and we can do our own things, but we still love each other. And it’s good for me.” Another song on the project, “Baggy Suit Boy”, imagines him at their future wedding, while “Four in a Row” praises her parents for raising her and her three sisters to be kind, courageous and unapologetically themselves.
The record feels like a pocket of pure love, openness and gratitude — feelingsMan wants us to sit and bask in with her. “I think the main thing I say, over and over again, is to be nice to everyone, to stand up for yourself, and if there’s something that you don’t want to do, then no one can force you to do it. Just to be yourself, really,” she says on what she wants her music to stand for, underlining that self-assurance has allowed her to flourish in a space that’s entirely, fearlessly her own. “I look back at pictures and I can see it; I remember how I felt then and now I’ve grown so much,” she smiles, her voice glimmering: “I feel proud of myself. I’ve just really, fully accepted myself now.”