Joia present (and explain) new EP at the Bull & Gate
From the outskirts of the Bull & Gate pub in Kentish Town, expectations for the gig are questioned, but entering into the back of the venue it becomes a reasonably sized space, well lit and full to the brim with an excited selection of friends, family and an already steady fan base.
The female-fronted five-piece (for this gig six, as joined by Mark on piano) entered the stage with a reserved nature, but leapt into the opening number Moonshine. A commanding tempo, but accompanied with nerves left the vocal pitching slightly out, but their energy and passion made up for this. The group relaxed after the first applause, with a big audience love for Tommy, the bassist, who possesses such a natural relationship with his instrument that he moved and engaged with it fluidly and almost enviably with a massive grin throughout the gig.
Do You Know, the third taste the band gave, received a massive response from the crowd with its moving delivery from Athina Andrelos – the strong lead vocalist whose voice is the perfect blend of Paramore’s Hayley Williams, and Amy Lee from Evanescence. Her outfit was a vintage find, and later she told me her mum’s tailor made it to fit her. Her kooky, elegant yet exotic vibe is refreshing and they went on to play her mum’s favourite and their most upbeat song Enough of You.
Some Things Never Change echoed the tone of Gwen Stefani’s 90s band No Doubt, but with a modern twist. However, their penultimate song Marionette stole the show with its impacting marching beat, enthused by their handsome, technically fine drummer, Bill Dukelow. Athina brought a softer placement on vocals in the song, and showed a slight struggle on control, but actually the breath quality she used was haunting and appropriate.
The lead guitarist, Callum Read, is quite an internal performer, focusing on his relationship with guitar and mic. But when he interacts with his audience, his eyes are alive with passion and focus; the whole band work solidly as a group.
They could do with co-ordinating a style for their visual presentation; they’re characterful as performers to watch individually and they obviously have an immensely professional and fun working relationship. They just might want to consider defining a look. Athina looked stunning all in black, with glossy hair and dark make-up. This subtly made an impact on her impressive vocal range, but it’s as if Eva Longoria was stepping out with Twin Atlantic and the new collection from Topman, so a fashion consistency might support them visually.
Unique lyrics, fresh dynamics and skilful in technique and writing, they are breaking onto the scene leaving a trail of interest behind them. They have room to grow and define themselves which is exciting, but their eclectic stand in the industry at present makes them really rather endearing.
We had a good 15-minute chat right after the performance with Athina Andrelos & Callum Read.
Great gig, congratulations. You were all really energised – how do you work yourselves up for a gig?
Athina: We were actually just singing a joke blues song we made up together back stage! We were so nervous, but we turn that right into adrenaline just before we go on stage and that kind of works.
Callum: Yeah, and with this set we kind of wanted to make sure it was rolling a bit better than before. The other gigs we’ve played we didn’t really work on the “in-betweens” that much, but even if you practice that stuff it’s never quite as smooth as you like it, but that will come with time.
So, how often do you spend writing during the week?
C: We practice twice a week, don’t we? We do a whole Sunday and once during the week.
A: Callum lives in London; I live in Surrey, so during the week it’s after work but the mid-week one is only about an hour and a half because we’ve got to catch last trains and stuff, so it’s never really that good! But Sunday’s are good.
C: Normally on a Wednesday we’ll like, discuss ideas. Start stuff and then the following Sunday we’ll finish and write.
A: Martin usually comes up with the initial riff, and we sit in the practice room and bring our own individual thing – like, for me, it’s melody and lyrics.
C: But we’ll email each other with ideas and little riffs and what works, so when we come together it’s a little bit more productive. And lately we’ve been buzzing because we’ve been playing together a lot and playing gigs. Normally, we work on whatever’s the most developed. If we have a chorus or a verse, we’ll work on that to get the whole song done.
A: Recently, lyrics I’ve found are just falling out. Some of the time, you know, it takes a little while, but usually if it flows naturally, we stick with it.
You describe a lot of your band influences on your Facebook page like Coldplay, Ellie Goulding and Radiohead, but do you have anything else that influences you, or is it just the music that you hear?
A: My music taste is ridiculous. At the moment it has been hip hop and rap and a lot of pop music stuff. Radiohead and Coldplay are more the boys, but subconsciously I must be influenced by someone. I don’t pin point it.
Do you draw on experiences you have in day-to-day life?
A: Oh lyrics wise? Yeah, if you piss me off I’ll write a song about you. Simple as that.
C: Yeah lyrics wise, it is quite like that really. But with our band, I’ve never known a band to have such an eclectic music taste really. It’s pop-based with indie, rock and RnB; it branches out.
A: Recording it sounds like that, but live it sounds more heavy and rocky.
C: I think it’s important to have a change-up. If we played the songs as they were recorded we’d have to tone it down quite a lot. It’s good to see a band with even more energy when live.
How did you know music was the path you wanted to journey down?
A: I don’t know old I was. It was when Sheryl Crow was big. That makes me sound old? I’m 23 now… But I saw this girl playing guitar and thought she was really cool and my parents insisted I learnt an instrument at school and I was like “guitar!” and I started playing then realised that it was too much practice and hard work and I’d refuse to rehearse. So in the end, I found out I could kind of sing. Both my parents are Greek so I didn’t get any credible musical influences from them, so I was listening to things like Steps and Boyzone and they were just easy to sing along too.
C: Mine’s hilarious. We were in play school and we had to sing a Christmas song for everyone (all our mums came) and I stepped up and did Deeply Dippy by Right Said Fred and that’s what I sung as a Christmas song. It just got worse. I used to go to family things and go round singing them songs and getting 50p and that went on for ages and I got loads of pocket money for it! Then I was Elvis in the school play… so I did loads of stuff.
Where’s the name “Joia” from?
A: Martin was working in a shop and it was the name of a light fitting. We were struggling with names, as I’m sure most bands do and he came back with this name and we all quite liked it. We looked it up and it was Portuguese for “light, jewel” and we quite liked the meaning. It sounded like a female-fronted band and it was exotic. We just went for it!
C: It just sounds nice!
So you’re on a light theme with Joia and your new EP Matchlight?
A: Yeah! We instantly thought and could see it on a t-shirt. The signature design, Martin did. He just scribbled it out.
C: An unnamed friend sorted it out on Photoshop and made it look cool.
And you were played by Kerrang the other day? Wow, massive compliment.
A: Yeah Alex Baker [DJ at Kerrang! Radio] has given us a ridiculous amount of support. I’m a radio plugger as well and we met at work and he responded straight away and he’s been fully backing us ever since. We’ve been played…
C: …four times, I think, every week since he’s done it. And he made us his featured artist last week and we sent our EP to him today. He has been so good to us.
Would you say that’s your biggest compliment so far?
A: I think Mary Ann-Hobbs, XFM radio, gave us a play of Matchlight a couple of weeks ago which was just ridiculous. She knows her stuff.
And finally, what’s next?
C: Keep going. It’s a difficult question to answer; we don’t really have anything booked in. Just keep on going.
A: We are booked in for a show next Saturday [21st July] at Queen of Hoxton. I think we’re just going to get back into the studio and record some demos.
C: We’re starting with Facebook and giving our music for free, but eventually we’ll end up on iTunes. It’s not something we’ll push for, but at the moment it’s getting people to hear it. It’s definitely going on Spotify though.
A: We recorded these songs so long ago. Enough of You and Aren’t I are two of the first songs we ever wrote together as a band, so it’s new to everyone else but old to us and obviously we really value the songs and they’ve got us where we are today, but we’re just introducing ourselves to people.
For further information and future gigs visit Joia’s website here.
To download the Match Light EP for free visit the band’s Facebook page here.
Watch the music video for Match Light here: