Joywave: On Tour with Betty Who (Interview)

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By Gabi Lamb

Never has a band so aptly been named as Joywave. If you were at Paradise Rock Club on October 11, you probably experienced this joyous feeling while listening to the Rochester, NY-based, indie-electro band who’s been opening on tour for Betty Who (Berklee alum). Joywave was formed by vocalist Daniel Armbruster, guitarist Joseph Morinelli, bassist Sean Donnelly, keyboardist Travis Johansen, and drummer Paul Brennerin in 2010, and has since released two EP’s—their latest titled, How Do You Feel?

As an up-and-coming band, Joywave has gained much attention from their track “Dangerous,” co-written with Big Data. I had the opportunity and pleasure of hanging out with Daniel Armbruster and Sean Donnelly before their set to ask them a few questions.

Gabi Lamb: Can you talk a little about your guys’ writing process? How do the collaborations work between the band members?
Sean Donnelly: Daniel does most of the writing. He comes up with the skeleton of a song and then we all kind of put it together.

GL: Do you work/write better at certain hours?
Daniel Armbruster: I think majority of our songs were written between like midnight and 6am. We have a studio in Roxbury and it is its own freestanding building. The traffic outside is terrible so we adjust our sleep schedules to where we’ll be sleeping ’till like 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then go get breakfast, then start working after rush hour, then work until like 5 a.m.
SD: A lot of times we’ll spend a whole frustrating afternoon and early evening on something then take a break for dinner and come back and then like for some reason at a certain hour some things start flowing and then we’ll get a lot of stuff done in a row and then at 3 am step back and be like holy sh*t this is weird lets go to bed, wake up and revisit this in the morning and then we start all over.

GL: Being a musician in today’s industry can be so discouraging at times. What is your daily motivation to keep working on your craft?
SD: We just like to make stuff. If a day goes by and we’re not doing anything creative we just feel like it’s a wasted day. It’s just an impulse.

GL: You guys are all from Rochester NY and knew each other in high school, Is that where you guys initially came together as a band?
SD: Yeah we’re all from the same town. Four of us went to the same high school.
DA: We had various local bands that we were all in together. This band came together in like early 2010. So come January and it’ll be like five years.

GL: From what I’ve been reading in seems like you guys have a big 80s influence but is there any other artists or eras that have influences in your writing styles?
DA: All of us are different when it comes to that kind of stuff. We agree on very few things: we all like Kanye and we all like The Killers.
SD: We admire all artists that aren’t afraid to do something completely different from what they’ve already done and aren’t worried about ruining peoples expectations just to continue whatever is seen as ‘great.’ Those artists just go and adventure out. They just do what they want to do. We look up to that and think it’s great.

GL: If you were to collaborate with any artist dead or alive who would it be?
DA: Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick Lamar. Call me, Kendrick! [laughs] SD: Kendrick Lamar definitely, but Randy Newman for sure would be great to work with too. He’s about to pop off!

GL: Your new EP, How Do You Feel has a lot of versatile tracks. Are there any songs that are particularly close to your heart or your favorite to play?
DA: I think we do on the full length. The four songs that are on our EP are on the full length but they were just the ones that we finished first so they came out first. There are a couple tracks on the full-length record that I’m really excited about. One of them that stick[s] out to me is called ‘Nice House.’
SD: Yeah, there’s this song called “Destruction” that I feel is the most accurate representation of how we feel about music.

GL: Would you consider your full-length album to have some sort of theme as far as genre style or is it more of a smorgasbord of sounds and styles?
DA: I think our record consists of every genre ever besides reggae and country. It’s really hard to make a four song EP for a band like ours because there’s a lot of stuff happening so to just pick four songs and then try to make it cohesive is just not real. The record as a whole is a bit all over the place, but it’s nice because you have transitions and things to guide people through a journey. So as you start to listen to it, you’ll hear it will start in one place and end in a completely different place. So I don’t think we’re going to go towards any specific direction. We constantly are changing things up because we’d get so bored just having the same sound consistent through an eleven track record.
SD: I think our earlier music does reflect the 80s a bit more because at that time when we were writing and recording, computer music was the only thing we had the means to make. It was also free. Now, we have a budget and a studio and guitars and amps so we’re lucky we can just do whatever we want. Whereas before, all we had was like keyboards and software. I don’t think people are going to listen to the record now and be like, well this feels like the 80s.

GL: Who are you guys listening to right now?
SD: Kendrick Lamar and Randy Newman.
DA: Kendrick Lamar. He just seems really authentic and the production on his records are great. We’re very much about music and production. Sometimes it’s hard to have a connection with hip-hop because we’re white kids from the suburbs, so some stuff is hard for us to relate to because we didn’t experience it. But a Kendrick track feels so real because he does a good job painting such a vivid picture and his production gives another layer of imagery where we as listeners can get each story of each track.
SD: He also is really versatile when it comes to what he can do with his voice. He’s not afraid to be a character. I feel like his range of influences is so modern and eclectic that it gives him a really unique sound.

GL: How has it been opening for Betty Who on your tour?
DA: It’s been great. She has a very dedicated fan base. So it’s really fun.
SD: I love it. It’s always fun to open for someone you actually enjoy watching. They all give such a great performance that it’s really hard to watch them and not have fun. We’re so different than what she is doing so it’s interesting to see the dynamic change.

GL: As a musician, what advise would you give your younger self?
DA: To just make whatever you want to make and ignore what other people make. I think one of the mistakes that I made in college (I’m 29 now) was that the music I was making sounded exactly like the bands that I liked because I thought I should be just like them, but that’s not true at all. The best things you can learn from the artists you like are the specific things that make them sound real, unique and special. At that point, just be inspired by that to do something completely different.

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