From the moment you hear the slick vocals of Joel Ansett on his inspirational album The Nature Of Us, you know he is offering something unique and well worth paying attention to. Not everyone that tries to sing can, and for Joel Ansett there is no doubt that he has great vocals and song writing on lockdown.
RYAN: After listening to The Nature Of Us, I was impressed at how every song flows and weaves perfectly into the next. Can you tell us a bit about the theme that runs throughout the album?
JOEL:Thanks for having me Ryan, so glad you enjoyed the flow of the album. Sothe whole record is playing with the double meaning of the word“nature.” I’ve been wrestling a whole lot with identity over thepast few years, still am today; and this record for me was about asking the question “who am I?” over and over again. That question caneasily be dismissed as cheesy or trite, but I think that’s becausewe’re scared of the answer, so I was trying to be brave and earnestlyseek out some answers to that question. You’ll hear it in the record,but as I wrote, I found that many times part of the answer would comefrom nature itself, whether from seeing the golden glow of Aspen treesor watching seeds be buried and trusting they will sprout one day. So,there’s these nature references and metaphors all over the record andfrom looking at nature I really was able to discover more of who I am. Hence, The Nature of Us.
RYAN: The song writing process is different for everyone. What does your song writing process look like?
JOEL:I feel like it’s always changing, but broadly speaking, I’m alwayscollecting lyrics, progressions, and melodies and I have a journal whereI make note of them all. Then I carve out time to write and I basicallyjust start to mix and match things from each list until I find a goodmatch. It’s kind of like speed dating for these lists; I set them upand see which ideas get along well together and tinker with conceptsuntil they’re compatible. It works different every time, but that’spart of the joy of it.
RYAN: With over 2000 fans on Facebook (no easy feat), You must be doing something right in the social media department. Do you have any advice for other musicians struggling to get noticed?
JOEL: Man it’s so easy to get caught up in the marketing side of thingsespecially as an independent artist, but my advice would be to trulyfocus on your craft, trusting that a long lasting social media presencewould be a side-effect of great songs. I went through a season of reallyinvesting time and energy into building my social media platform and Ifound it not only draining, but it also twisted up all my creativemotives, not cool. So maybe this is naive and too optimistic, butI’dsay don’t worry too much about getting noticed; work on becomingexcellent at your craft and I believe you will get noticed for it, orsomeone will come along to help you get noticed. Feel free to challengeme on that though, haha.
RYAN: Your album was recently launched and you managed to make it to top fifteen in the first day. How did that feel, and how are you going about keeping up this great momentum?
JOEL:It felt great man. It was a goal to crack the top 10 on thesinger/songwriter album charts and we hit number #9 late in the day. Wedidn’t stay there long but it was a fun victory for the fan base tocome together and make a little splash. I’m really learning as I go,so we’re brainstorming about how to keep the momentum going. I’mplanning to put out a music video in the next few months. We’re alsopursuing tour opportunities as an opening act for a few bands hittingthe road in the spring. We’ll see what doors open up.
RYAN: I have a few guesses at some of your inspirations, but rather than guess, can you tell us who inspires you and your sound?
JOEL:Well my mother loved mo-town so growing up we would listen to TheTemptations and Michael McDonald a good bit. The first album I ever bought was Plans by Death Cab for Cutie, and after listening to thatover and over I knew I wanted to be a songwriter; so Ben Gibbard was andis a major influence for me. U2, Jack’s Mannequin, and Coldplay weremy favorite bands through high school and college, and since then I’vecome to really love Bill Withers and Damien Rice.
RYAN: The Soundcloud revolution is here in full force. How do you feel about digital downloads over physical sales, and streaming over those types of sites?
JOEL:I’m sometimes guilty of blind optimism, but as a music fan, I thinkthere’s really something great about it. There is more music being made than ever before and because of the digital/streaming revolution,we have access to it. It’s really amazing how much great music is outthere. As an artist, I’m not entirely opposed to it either, I’mjust thankful that I live in an era where it’s easier to record musicthan ever before, and also easier to get it distributed than everbefore, that’s special. I’m not making hardly any money from it butI’m making something I believe in and people all over the world haveaccess to it. How awesome is that? I also think this digital revolutionchallenges our cultural definition of artistic success, which is a goodthing. There’s much more to a great song than going platinum andcashing out. Maybe the future of artists is to be bi-vocational; and Idon’t think that would be the worst thing. We might get some morerelatable, honest songs on the radio that way, haha. That’s my takeright now, but like I said, I’m an optimist.
RYAN:We all enjoy great collaborative efforts. If you had the chance to work with anyone in the industry, who would you want to work with?
JOEL:Bono, hands down. I’d also like to write a song with Shakespeare inanother life.
RYAN:Your new single “Already In Love” is not the fastest song on the album, but it is no doubt catchy. Why did you choose this song as your first single, and any idea which one you might release next?
JOEL:I felt like the song hinted at several other songs on the albumsonically and thematically. It’s got a little R&B groove to it, butit’s a mellow singer-songwriter type song, so for me it was a bridgeto the other musical styles on the record. Thematically I think itestablished a core message of the record as well. Before all else, wewere delighted in and loved.
RYAN: The artist life is always a juggle between career and creation. What does a week usually look like for you?
JOEL:Man that’s always changing as well. Something I need to work on in thenew year is establishing a routine. But the week is filled with reading,writing sessions, open mics, rehearsals, and gigs. I’ve been marriedfor two years now and have a little one on the way, so family is majorpart of my week. I also work part-time for a church arranging the musicfor Sunday services, so I spend time arranging hymns as well. My weeksconsist of looking for inspiration in every nook and cranny of life, anddoing my best to translate that inspiration into song.
RYAN:At this point in your career, what are some of your personal musical highlights?
JOEL:The biggest musical highlight for me thus far was my release show forthis record back in November. My family (from Spokane, WA) surprised meand flew into Denver the day of the show. I had worked so hard on therecord and I felt so much love and support on the day of the release. Itreally was one of the best days of my life. Another musical highlightfor me was the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival this past summer. I had thehonor of being selected as a finalist in their Songwriter Showcase andwas able to perform a few songs for an amazing festival audience as wellas meet some wonderful fellow songwriters. I just moved to Colorado a year ago and to be able to play at that festival was sort of my firstlocal break into the scene here, definitely a highlight.
RYAN:What has been the most difficult challenge you have had to face throughout the process of making this new album?
JOEL:I think the most difficult challenge was really just the growing painsof it being my first record. We released it independently and had towear so many different hats to pull it off. It was exhausting. I couldhave been more disciplined in my creative process, I could have prepared
better for the studio time, and I could have communicated better withthe producers about my vision. Any difficulties really seemed to sproutfrom my lack of experience and there’s just no way around that. Idon’t regret it at all though, you’ve got to learn somehow, and withthis record I learned a whole lot just by diving in.
RYAN: Lastly, and thank you for your time. Is there any news you would like your fans to know about in 2016. Perhaps some potential show dates or releases?
JOEL:You bet man, thanks so much for having me. I don’t have manyspecifics, but I can say that a Lullabies EP is in the works for thislittle one that’s coming. Beyond that, we’re in the planning stagesof a spring/summer tour, so keep an eye out for dates and let us know ifwe should come through your town!