Joséphine is a new kind of wave arriving to the scene, and we’re intrigued. A voice that is much like other past eras with a spin of the modern world, this first-generation Persian-American singer/songwriter gives us a taste of a different side of alternative-pop. Born in Tucson, AZ, the artist moved to Los Angeles at age 17 to immediately pursue her love for music. In 2 years time, she self-released her first visual EP “Love Trap: The Story” which allowed her to put her first foot in the door of the creative industry. With a multitude of influences, Joséphine’s music comes to fruition, inspired by artists from the US, UK, and Middle East. In 2019, the songstress left for Tel Aviv, Israel to work in isolation and put together what would be her debut album Pretty Crazy. The project would explore the concepts of self-discovery, love, and acceptance in order to deliver an authentic and honest portrayal of Joséphine to all her fans and listeners.
With over a quarter million streams, Joséphine has become a power-pop individual, forging her own path. The singer/songwriter combines eroticism and experimentation together in each track. Her sounds are sultry much like Lana Del Rey & Amy Winehouse, but her music and lyricism is poetic and mystical, much like artists from her Middle Eastern upbringing. Her music video for her single “BabyGirl”, which comes off her album, has Madonna-esque qualities—elegant, mysterious, and charming. You can watch the full video above.
This enigmatic, energetic, and enticing human caught out attention immediately after she reached out to us. We’re excited that we get to share her music, her artistry, and her thoughts with you today.
Here is our interview:
Neelu Mohaghegh [NM]: How did you get started in music?
Joséphine [J]: “When I was 6 years old my mom came home with a karaoke machine. It had 5 songs on it: Cher’s Believe, J-Lo’s iconic Jenny from the Block, Faith Hill’s Breathe, Dixie Chicks’Landslide cover and Britney Spears’ Oops I Did it Again. I remember running home every day after school to sing on it. I always knew I wanted to be a singer but didn’t fully pursue my passion and make it my career until many years later. I actually still have the same mic from the machine on my nightstand and I use it as a reminder to myself everyday.”
[NM]: How has music served as your way of expressing yourself?
[J]: “Music has always been an outlet for me. It’s my therapy. I am someone that has always struggled with expressing my emotions, and coming from a middle eastern family where vulnerability is not particularly encouraged, music was the only real way I ever learned how to be honest with myself. Writing songs is a very cathartic process, it reveals your inner thoughts and feelings - many of which are so deeply buried they wouldn’t have come out otherwise. It’s where I feel most free, most at peace.”
[NM]: How have your experiences and backgrounds influenced your music? I noticed you're Persian, as am I! There are a lot of amazing Persian musicians and artists, and you grew up in various cities all over the world, how has that all played a part in your craft?
[J]: “I’m really grateful for the experiences I’ve had - my first language was Farsi and I grew up listening to Persian music with my family like Moein, Omid, and Ebi. My brother and older cousins were into Hip Hop and Alternative, so I grew up listening to Eminem, Lil Wayne, Drake, The Killers, etc. A few years later, I discovered my love for Jazz when I went to NYC for the first time and walked into Smalls. It felt like I was coming home, finding something I had lost. After that experience I listened to a handful of old jazz classics as well as fusing it together with my love for Israeli/Arab music and my Middle Eastern roots. That music is so vibrant and rich in culture and has played a key part in giving me my sound.”
[NM]: When you wrote your project 'Pretty Crazy' in 2019, why did you move to Tel Aviv, and what inspired you to make this album about self-discovery, self-love, and self-acceptance?
[J]: “I moved to Tel Aviv to get out of LA. I needed to get out of my head. More than that, I’ve always wanted to express my culture through my music. I’d been to Israel several times before and always had a connection to it and a longing to go back. I wanted to connect with Middle Eastern artists, live and breathe my culture, and put that into my art. So I got a one-way ticket with no money and no plans and I went on my way. There was a specific time where I was roaming around an empty Jerusalem, walking around this magical holy city and feeling completely and utterly alone. I called my best friend crying and she told me: “You’re going to look back on this moment and remember how strong you were and you will always carry that with you”. One album, one music video and countless memories later, I made it happen. When the hard days come, I remember that moment and it pulls me through.”
[NM]: Were you in isolation making that project as a result of the pandemic or because you were more-so working on this project?
[J]: “It was pre-pandemic actually and I was in a self-imposed quarantine. I spent the entire 3 months alone, which definitely cultivated feelings of loneliness but also feelings of love, friendship and acceptance. The vision for the Baby Girl music video came to me when I walked into a hotel and witnessed a live model being sketched on a beautiful burgundy chaise lounge. I knew it when I saw it. Through that, I became close friends with the owners of the hotel who loved the concept of the video. I also became good friends with the host of the event whom I later posed as a nude model for at one of his studio’s art nights, something I never thought I’d do. Strangers became family through my time in the Middle East and I pushed myself in ways I never would have imagined. It was all a part of my journey of self love and acceptance. I’m currently working on a new project that reflects a lot on the woman I’ve become through that experience. I’m more confident, self- assured and in touch with my femininity.”
[NM]: What's your detour? Something you recently picked up or have been doing outside of music like a hobby, a fun fact, a passion project, etc.
[J]: “My detour is coffee. I’m coffee obsessed. I love to travel so that I can find new coffee shops. I also love to read and consume all types of art, movies, comedy etc. I get a lot of my musical inspirations through various art forms.”
[NM]: How would you describe your music in a word or sentence?
[J]: “Empowered vulnerability by way of femininity.”
[NM]: Are there any upcoming music projects that you're excited about that you could share with us? And is there anything you hope to do in the new year?
[J]: “I’m really hoping to get back into playing shows at the beginning of the year. There’s nothing like that raw, pure connection. Sometime next year, I hope to open for a major artist on tour. I’m working on a new jazz cover album and a follow up album to Pretty Crazy, which is really about embracing one's sexuality, sensuality, and the power of femininity.”
[NM]: What is one of your favorite concert memories?
[J]: “Last year I went to a Panic! at the Disco concert. They’ve been one of my favorites since I was a little girl. It’s always good to be reminded of those songs that take you back. It reminded me of why I love music so much and that I want to one day give that to someone else. He was singing “Say Amen” and at the end of the song he hit this ridiculously high note and I just started crying because it was so inspiring and motivating. To be able to move someone so deeply with their music - that is such a blessing. He did that for me and it reinforced my purpose and love for music. It inspired me to continue pushing myself for greatness and outdoing my expectations of myself. That was a good one.”
[NM]: Who would be your dream collaboration if you could choose any artist?
Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your music and thoughts, Joséphine.