Jo-B: R&B meets electronic & soul. Light some candles & lose yourself in "Ghøst.
Hey there! Please introduce yourself to your adoring audience.
Hey Silent Sounds! I’m Jo-B Sebastian, I’m an electro-R&B singer and songwriter based out of Brooklyn, New York! Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your community!
At what age did you realize you wanted to be a musician?
I’ve wanted to be a musician for as long as I can remember. My mum loves to tell anyone who will listen that I’ve been singing since I was a baby, and thanks to a very strong musical program at my Primary School, I started performing at a very young age. I’ve only ever dreamed of being 3 things in my life: an astronaut, an archeologist, and a singer.
What do you enjoy most about your artistry? I.E. Creating music, the process, the fame, the recognition, co-writing? Etc.
To me the most exciting aspect of my artistry is the idea of creating something from nothing. I love the idea that all of my influences, all my experiences in life, in love, in anything, can come together in this perfect storm to become something that is representative of who I was when I wrote it. I love being able to hear my inspirations in my own music, crafting a soundscape, a musical tapestry that is distinctly my own, allowing me to sing my own words, to tell my own story. It just makes it so much more meaningful to me.
Another aspect that I love is being able to perform live and connecting with an audience. You don’t get this aspect of music while you’re writing and recording, you don’t get to see how your music can affect other people. There is nothing comparable to having someone come up to you after a show and tell you how moved they were by your music, or how they could see their life in one of your songs, it makes all the hard work, practice, sweat, and tears worth it.
Who or what most inspires your song-writing?
I draw inspiration from things that are happening around me, I find that writing about relationships, be they romantic or otherwise, comes the most natural to me, and so most of my songs are about love and loss. I usually start a writing session by sitting at the piano and playing around with chord progressions until I find something that grabs me, something that reminds me of something I’m hurting about, or something that brings me joy. I feel like this is usually how I get the inspiration for what a song is about, by letting the music speak for itself. I’m also always constantly listening to music, things are rarely silent in my house, so I’m always listening for things that spark inspiration, be it a song that brings me back to a moment in my past, or a synth that excites me, there are so many things I can draw inspiration from.
Tell us a little about your new release. Is there a story behind the title?
Ghøst, as many of my favourite songs are, is a song about unrequited love. I wrote it as an ode to dating in this modern age of apps and texting. Finding love in a city like New York is hard, and after being ghosted by someone I felt I had a real connection with I was distraught and frustrated, filled with self doubt and left with questions I knew I’d never get answers to. So I turned to my keyboard and dealt with it the only way I knew how.
Which band or artists would you most like to perform with and why?
Mariah Carey, especially at her prime, to see her in action would be a dream come true, her musicianship and voice have really shaped and formed my own sound, being able to work with her would be mindblowing. Michael Jackson, his music, artistry, and work ethic have so greatly inspired me, this is a man whose music I grew up listening to, it would be incredibly humbling and inspiring to meet the man who has become a pop legend. MNEK is a contemporary artist whose work has just blown me away, his voice and his songwriting are impeccable, I consider it a career goal and dream to work with him at least once in my life.
Which bands and artists were you, or are you currently influenced by? Have those influences changed much as you've gotten older?
I grew up listening to the music of my parents, they raised me on Motown, Disco, classic R&B, and 80s Pop music. I was raised on the music of The Stylistics, Earth Wind & Fire, Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, and Luther Vandross, among many other R&B greats in addition to pop giants like Wham!, Cyndi Lauper, Janet Jackson, and Hall & Oates. As I got older my love for music led me to discover different genres, I started off loving pop music (The Spice Girls debut album was one of the first albums I ever purchased for myself) and slowly started to explore other kinds of music. I eventually found myself obsessed with the Jazz standards of the 30s and 40s, falling in love with the voices of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Sarah Vaughan.
As I got older and I started composing and creating my own sound, I started to rekindle a love for 80s pop, and began exploring more electronic forms of music, dipping my toes into New Wave and, eventually, more contemporary forms of electronic music.
As a singer my influences span multiple genres. In recent years I’ve started to discover and greatly appreciate Mariah Carey not only as a vocalist but as an incredible songwriter and musician. In addition to the musical greats I’ve listed above, I’m greatly influenced and inspired by modern R&B and Pop artists who incorporate elements of my favourite genres such as Jessie Ware, MNEK, Gallant, SG Lewis, Sinead Harnett, Jojo, Tesla Boy, and a slew of other artists.
How much do you let critics affect your music? Do you find it hard to focus on the positive side of things, and if so – how do you keep yourself motivated to keep going?
It’s tough to put something you’ve worked so hard, put so much of yourself into, out there for people to appraise. The time leading up to a single release is always filled with so much anxiety and stress for me, it’s actually the thing I most hate about releasing music, but I think it’s so important to hear other people’s perspective on something so personal to you. It’s easy to get clouded with your own thoughts and feelings, having outside perspective helps you wake up and see things with a renewed clarity. That being said, I think it’s also important to remember who you are as a musician and to trust your instincts. There have been so many times where I’ve broken down and started to doubt myself as a musician, as a vocalist because of feedback I’ve gotten from critics. I finally started to realize that in the end there will be people who hate you and people who love you, you can’t please everyone. So I’ve learned to take what critics say with a grain of salt. If at the end of the day I feel I’ve given it my best, I’m happy with what I’m releasing, and there are people out there who appreciate what I’m releasing, then that’s all that matters. The thought that there are people out there who can appreciate my music is motivation enough for me to keep going.
What are your upcoming tour/performance plans?
I have a couple of shows coming up in the next month, on September 10th I have a show at The Bower Electric in New York City. So far I’ve only been doing shows in New York but I’m currently in the beginning stages of planning a tour of the East and West Coast, I’d love the chance to hit the road, meet new people, and share my music with anyone who will listen!
How important do you feel social media is in your career? Do you enjoy it? Please expand upon your opinions, and what you’ve learned while making music in 2017.
Social media has become such an important tool in a musician’s life. It definitely has its downsides, there are so many things you have to remember if you want to “play the game” and if you’re not careful it can become problematic, but at it’s best it’s an excellent avenue for promotion, and an invaluable way to increase reach and expand your audience. I think it’s what makes it possible to have a career in music without the support of a record label. Knowing the ins and outs of how social media works can help you find fans in places you’ve never even been to. I definitely enjoy certain aspects of it, I’m getting messages from people in Romania, New Zealand, Brazil and other countries telling me that they stumbled upon my music on YouTube or Instagram. I think social media can also be a great tool to help artists link up with other artists or industry contacts, to find people who you can collaborate with.
What else does the year have in store for you?
I’ve just released a new collaboration with Brooklyn-based producer, Phuse, called ‘Breathe Again’ which is out now on Spotify and all other major digital music outlets, the first of many collaborations, we’re currently hard at work on an EP, which I’m so excited about! I’m also constantly writing new material and hope to release my first solo EP by the end of the year, so you can expect a lot more music before the year comes to a close! Aside from that I’ve got some shows coming up in the New York area and I hope to bring my music to other cities around the United States, so definitely stay tuned and check out my website for updates.
Finally, where would you like to see yourself five years from now and what's your ultimate ambition as an artist?
Five years from now I’d love to be on top of my game with a few full length albums under my belt, collaborating with the artists who have inspired and influenced my own music, maybe writing for other artists as well, getting recognition from my peers (perhaps a Grammy or two, why not dream big?), and ultimately performing across the globe. I think my ultimate ambition as an artist would be to make a name for myself and build up a world-wide audience who appreciates my music. Oh and to play Madison Square Garden because, well, who doesn’t dream of playing Madison Square?
Please provide us with any/all social links where people can connect with you and your music: