Interview with Joe


Eight studio albums and fifteen years in the game: his name is Joe.

36 year old RnB legend Joe is renowned for effortlessly created slow jams such as I Wanna Know, to more uptempo tracks like Don’t Wanna Be A Player. Coming from a gospel background and perfecting his craft in the early years at church, Joe has gone on to receive seven Grammy nominations, cementing a prominent place for himself in the black music hall of fame.

A singer, songwriter, producer and now a label executive, the modest and softly spoken crooner produced every track on his latest album, as well as securing contributions from The Game, Mario and Trey Songz.

Far from his ladies’ man image, here Joe reveals to Anna Nathanson why it’s so hard for him to meet women, reservations around his religious parents hearing his music, and how he feels about R Kelly…

You’ve consistently made great music over the years. What do you think is the secret to longevity as an artist?

I think it’s important to be true to the music, and to stay true to who you are. Too many artists get caught up in the lifestyle of the music industry. I just stay true to me. They’ve been trying to get me, but for the most part I’ve stayed low key. I also try to keep my professional relationships within the industry strong, keep that solid. It really is hard to resist the temptation to get caught up in everything, as so many wonderful and beautiful things come at you, but I just try and remain strong.

Your songs have often been rather raunchy in content. Is this something which will be revisited on the new release?

As I mature in life, my perspective changes, but you know, I’m still a single man, so I do talk about that. It would be real nice to find a special lady, to share the joys of life with. I don’t really have a type. I just need to get out more. I don’t go out much; I spend a lot of time on the road. I don’t really do the clubs. I’m pretty much a recluse when it comes to that. That’s another thing that kept me out of a lot of craziness. It is hard having relationships when you’re in this industry; there are stereotypes of artists like us. They’re not good, and it makes it difficult. I try not to let this be an issue but it has been a problem. One of the reasons I don’t get too caught up in the whole relationships thing is because you get these women that go from one artist to the next. It’s hard trusting people; all these things play on my mind.

What has been your parents’ reaction to some of your sexier tracks and were you ever a bit worried about them hearing any of your material, especially considering that they are both preachers?

That idea came into my head and with my upbringing, I’ve learnt that there are certain ways to conduct yourself. So yeah, I try to respect myself first and foremost, and also make sure that my music is respectful. That’s why certain things I try and say metaphorically and not too direct. Back in the day I was a little more concerned about what my parents would think, and I’d hesitate in playing them certain tracks. I was fresh, new in the game, and just come out of the church. My parents were right there, with their eyes and ears open, and I really wanted to impress them as well.

You were very vocal about R Kelly apparently sabotaging your success and there was also talk of him doing the same thing to Ne-Yo. Why do you think he acted that way and can you forgive him?

That’s a good question! I think he was intimidated that he wasn’t the only talented male solo artist out there, and rather than appreciate mine and Ne-Yo’s music, he let the competitive thing that he has always had take over. He didn’t want to see us in the limelight. It doesn’t matter whether I’ll ever forgive him or not, because I’ve continued to make good music, and people want to hear it. I haven’t let it affect me at all. It’s not one of those things that can hold me back.

How do you feel RnB has changed since the days when you started out?

There are a lot more artists! Radio stations have changed, record companies have changed; times have changed drastically. The sound’s also changed, what’s been done before can’t be done again. The fact that it’s become more commercial is to do with a lot of things, and promotion strategies are completely different. The internet is a big part of the game that you need to factor in as well.

How has it been going the independent route compared to working with a major label?

This is my second indie release. It’s a lot of hard work, but at the same time it’s very rewarding, you know that you worked hard for it. And you want to work hard because you know it’s for you, and for your team.

Joe will be in the UK in October, and the new album Signature is also out in October on Kedar Ent/ Universal

By Anna Nathanson

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