On the Record: Toronto’s rising soul star Jozem returns with his latest experimental single, ‘Dreams’

Canadian singer, songwriter and producer Jozem sits down with Unrecorded to discuss his new, experimental, future soul record ‘Dreams’, as well as chatting about future plans and music tastes...

1. For those who are new to Jozem, who is he and what is he/ his music about? 

I am a singer/songwriter/producer originally from Rwanda, now based in Toronto (via Nairobi, Kenya where I spent my childhood). I live in my head a lot and make music about the things that keep me up at night and haunt me into my dreams. 

2. Your artist name Jozem, isn’t too far removed from your given name, Joseph – how did you land on Jozem as an artist name? Did you go through any other names before choosing Jozem?

I am a bit of an introvert and when I started putting out my music, it felt quite overwhelming to be so vulnerable… I wanted a way to temper that intense sense of vulnerability and using a moniker afforded me that. ‘Jozem’ felt a bit removed but still personal as it is actually a mix of a nickname I had when I was kid and what my mom calls me.”

3. How would you describe your sound & what drew you to future /experimental soul?

“I think my sound has been evolving naturally just by the manner in which i started making it- I never had any formal musical training and when I started collaborating with musicians I often found it hard to translate and communicate what I had in mind. A good friend of mine taught me the basics of using Reason (production software) and I just went from there- largely experimenting and eventually evolving into my current sound. I’ve never been keen on labeling my music, I find it quite hard to do so. I guess I just make sonics/atmospheres/sounds that speak to me and leave it up to everyone else to decide where it fits (or doesn’t). “

4. You mentioned that your latest single, ‘Dreams’ is like a guiding compass to you. What do you hope that fans & listeners will take away from your song? 

“All I can ask when I put out my music is for folks to receive it with the heart that it is given- honesty & vulnerability. Beyond that, I can only hope ‘Dreams’ can be to them what it has been for me- a grounding moment, a moment of calm and self-reflection, a step towards self-actualization.

5. What was the inspiration or thought process behind the ‘Dreams’ music video?

The dreams video was a labour of love. Ayo, the director and I shot it one night, just the two of us. We simply just wanted to capture in motion that feeling that is conveyed in the song- the introspection, the vulnerability of it all.

Jozem – Dreams – Official Music Video

6. A highlight of your music career so far?

For me, it’s always a highlight just being able to release a song and have someone reach out saying that something that was so personal to me resonated strongly with them- I don’t think that will ever get old. Each song I share is a little piece of me that I gently release into the world and it is amazing watching it land and affect someone even in the slightest of ways.

7. Name some of your favourite music artists or albums?

“Gosh there’s too many to name- it is also very seasonal for me, I am not much of a ‘favourites’ kind of person, and my tastes can be all over the place at a given moment. That being said, ‘Little dragon’ has been a constant for me. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of South African house music, it really saved me in the crazy year of 2020.”

8. Your most played song of 2020?

Definitely ‘Into Ingawe’ by Sun-EL Musician and Ami Faku. A staple of my #blackboyjoy playlist (on Spotify) that carried me through the craziness that was 2020.

9. What else can fans look forward to from Jozem over the course of this year?

A lot more music! My sophomore EP lands in the spring. I am super excited to share it so soon!

Listen to Jozem – Dreams


Keep up with Jozem:

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