Striving to create music that will provide escapism and help others suffering from ill mental health, Joe, aka nothing,nowhere., uses his powerful vocals to do just that. Finding solace in creating music, nothing,nowhere. subverts genre, creating no strings attached alternative beats.
After taking time out this summer, following his own struggle with mental health, nothing,nowhere. released ‘dread’, an emotive track that tells his battle with anxiety and depression, and his quest to feel well again. Now one month into life on the road, having just completed the UK/Europe leg of his tour, nothing,nowhere. is now in the midst of his USA dates. We chatted to him about what originally drew him to music, song writing and what he wants people to take away from his music.
So, first things first, tell me a bit about you and the type of music that you create?
My name is Joe, but I release music under ‘nothing,nowhere’, I don’t really know what type of music I create – I create all sorts of different music, but I usually just call it experimental music, it sort of incorporates indie, alternative and rap.
You were 12 when you started ‘doing’ music, what originally drew you to it?
I think I’ve always been exposed to it. I grew up skateboarding, and I suppose punk and rap are synonymous to that. Every time I’d be at the skatepark everyone would bring their CDs down and we’d have a boombox there.
Also, my dad is a huge music fan, he’d listen to things like The Clash, the Talking Heads – he had a really interesting music taste. So, I was always surrounded by music, and that’s sort of how I ended up making it.
I’m interested in where the name ‘nothing, nowhere’ came from – how did you decide on it?
I was watching a lecture about the philosopher Alan Watts, and he was talking about impertinence, which is one of the main staples in Buddhism, something I’m really interested. The lecturer was talking about how we’re all essentially nothing. I remember being really perplexed by the idea of being nothing, and in my head, I just said “nothing, nowhere”. I came up with the name 4 years ago, and I officially started the project 3 years ago.
You’ve recently released ‘dread’, can you tell me a bit about the track?
‘dread’ is probably the most visual song that I’ve made yet, because it is very interpersonal. It came after a difficult summer, during which I didn’t make music or go online. So, ‘dread’ was sort of my comeback to making music, trying to feel well again. It is a very important track for me.
The process was really organic, I hadn’t picked up my guitar in 3 months, and I remember I was sitting t in my basement with my guitar, and it all just poured out of me. And when I woke up the next morning there was just a full song!
How was it releasing that track after you had a difficult time over summer?
It was a relief, I guess I felt like I was just so lost for a few months, I hadn’t been online or posting anything, and it was just a great reminder of the support networks that I have. So, it was great to reconnect with everyone and made me feel less alone.
You often touch on anxiety and mental health, is discussing and raising awareness of mental health in your music something that is important to you?
Yeah! I mean I have my fair share of mental health issues, and I know a lot of people who also struggle with it, and it’s a really difficult thing to deal with. Just recently people have started to talk about it more openly, and I know for me, my favourite type of music is sad music, for lack of a better word, not because I like to stare out the window and just be sad, but I like honest and raw music because it makes me not feel alone. I guess I just hope I can do that for other people.
You touched on the writing side of creating music a bit when discussing ‘dread’, is song writing something that is important to you?
The process of song writing is always different, but I try not to overthink it. I love song writing, it’s a release for me, I don’t know what I’d do without it. But I also try to make sure I don’t take it too seriously and just try to enjoy it, because if I overthink it, usually it creates trash. I’m really grateful for song writing.
Do you find that writing is something that comes naturally to you?
That’s a good question! Sometimes I do think it comes naturally to me, but other times it feels like I’ve never written a song before. Some days I’ll sit down for 4-6 hours trying to come up with something, and just end up giving up. Other days it’ll take like 10 minutes to come up with something, I think usually the songs that take the less amount of time are often the best. It’s a very inconsistent thing, at least for me.
In terms of genre, you’ve said that you like to create experimental music, and you prefer not to label yourself – can you tell me a bit about that decision? And how you found your sound?
In term of how I found my sound, that sort of came naturally to me because I grew up listening to emo and rap music, and just worshiping the artists within those genres. Growing up I was in emo bands and was rapping, so I sort of combined them both. I feel like the ethos behind nothing,nowhere. is the idea of maintaining a sort of fluidity. I don’t like to be labelled because I don’t want to put any expectations out there or disappoint anyone if I end up changing my sound. I want to express myself in different ways and not pigeon hole myself in one particular niche.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I don’t know, I just hope it comes across as authentic as possible. At the end of the day I just want to help people by being honest, and hopefully provide someone with some solace.
Moving on to talk about performing live… you’ve just finished your UK/Europe tour, how was it?
It exceeded any expectations that I had, it was unbelievable. We had sold out rooms, all the way across the globe, which didn’t feel real, but somehow it was! Even with the language barrier, music is universal, and the connection was no different, no matter what country we were in. There was lots of energy and emotion in every room we played. I’m beyond grateful, and I just can’t believe I made it, I’m still trying to take it all in.
Would you say there’s a noticeable difference in the crowds on home soil in America to performing in the UK/Europe?
Yeah! I’d say the UK and Europe crowds are giving Americans a run for their money, the UK/Europe rooms were getting really rowdy, and the singalongs were something else. The US better bring it, because it will be hard to top!
Do you have a standout gig that you’ll remember forever?
So far, London! We sold out the Garage, there were 600 people there. Everyone there knew the words, and it was really nice. Certainly, one I will never forget.
What is your favourite and least favourite thing about being on the road and touring?
My favourite thing is getting to meet lots of different types of people, and being exposed to different cultures, just getting to see the world! Least favourite would be the lack of sleep, and my tendency to get sick every single time we are on the road! I also miss having clean clothes all the time, but it’s definitely all worth it!
I’m interested in what you’d say is your biggest achievement so far… what is it?
Every day is an achievement for me. There have been so many milestones I’ve reached. But right now, honestly, making it to the UK and Europe is my biggest achievement!
And finally, what piece of advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?
Oh man! I’d say just keep doing exactly what you’re doing, it gets better! Stay close to your friends because they’re all you have in the end. Keep skateboarding.