The artist gets candid on his journey so far, dealing with loneliness and finding his sound through films.
This past year, we’ve all been searching for something: clarity, ways of dealing with loneliness and a sense of escapism amongst all the madness. For Joseph Reuben, finding happiness was on the agenda and he was hoping to find it in California. Dropping his new single “Maybe, In California”, the singer enters a textured 70s inspired soundscape filled with atmospheric and sweeping vocals. Like an intimate movie, Reuben intricately takes us through a melancholic ballad that details his realisation and personal battles.
“’Maybe, In California’ is about searching endlessly for another place,” says Joseph. “Constantly asking, maybe, I’ll feel happier over here? As a kid growing up in an orthodox upbringing in north-west London, I would get lost in Hollywood films and wish I could exist inside them. After living in Los Angeles for a year-and-a-half, I came to realise the fantasy of it you’d see in films was different to the reality of it. Although I had many wild experiences there, I found LA to be a pretty lonely and dark place.”
Spending the past year working in quarantine, the singer revealed that while other artists might have felt pressures, he felt no different as the creative process stayed the same. Catching up with us virtually, the artist divided in deep on his creativity, why his latest song feels like an autobiography and how his favourite movies inspire him.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Joseph, how are you?
I’m feeling pretty great, thank you!
How has this past year been for you?
This past year has been pretty nuts in many ways. It’s been the first time I’ve released solo music after making music since I was 13 so it’s been a very gratifying and overwhelming feeling.
With everything that happened last year, was your creativity affected in any way?
I’ve actually been very productive. I’ve basically been in quarantine working in self-isolation since I was 15 – so it actually felt no different for me. However, knowing that everyone was working, in the same way, took the pressure off me, instead of worrying about what I may be missing out on, allowing me to keep my head down with my work.
How did you first get into music, what sparked the interest?
My parents were always playing music around the house. I had a rock band when I was 13 and we had our first show in our synagogue… I know, very rock n roll. My mom is a singer-songwriter and guitarist and so I would also playsets with her in restaurants / anywhere we could play. I always knew I was gonna be making music. Either that or being a designer/artist of some other kind.
You took a break from music after you released your take on Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” due to health reasons, coming back now what does it feel like? How did you stay positive?
I actually never took a break from music. Even after my surgery, whilst I was on voice rest and couldn’t talk, I continued to make music from my hospital bed. However, instead of writing / singing songs I focused more on composing and producing instrumental music and that’s when I made a shift into composing for Tv and film. I spent the next 8 years composing music and setting up my own production company Cinemax Studios but after years of creating behind the scenes the hunger to perform as a solo artist didnt die down and when I watched the film “20 feet from stardom” I realised, if I want to be an artist / performer and not just producer / composer I’m going to need to grab the mic and jump in the spotlight . So I spent 2 or 3 years of rigorous vocal training and speech therapy to get my voice to a very strong and confident place. I can’t tell you how incredible it feels to finally be doing what I set out to do when I was just a kid.
And now you’ve dropped your new single “Maybe in California”, talk us through your production process!
I wrote this song during my Song A Day project. I actually wrote the bones of the song in an hour. I then finished off the lyrics with my brother David King Reuben. I wanted to keep the production sparse but then I thought (as per usual) the song needed to be more anthemic to enhance the narrative of the song. so I added some guitars, drums, backing vocals and then some strings with some orchestration help from my friend, composer Thomas Roussell. My brother Danny Reuben often sits with me as a second ear before I send off to be mixed and mastered.
It’s about endlessly searching for another place, what spurred this topic?
It’s a very autobiographical song. I’ve been living out of suitcases since I was 18. Moving from City to city. Going from London to NYC and back with a little of LA in there. When writing it I realised I’m constantly searching for something else, thinking in any given situation that the grass could be greener – even if deep down there’s a realisation that’s not really true.
Films are a big influence on your music and creativity, what is your favourite film?
I have many favourites but I’d probably narrow it down to the films that have inspired me the most: Requiem For A Dream, Vertigo, the Shining, Snow White,
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I’d love for my music to transport you and feel like an absolute badass when walking down the street.
Who inspires you?
People that create in their own way. Artists like Hans Zimmer, Woodkid, Lana Del Rey, James Blake And also filmmakers Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Alfred HItchcock