A Jazz prodigy goes Pop, Sweet Joseph
WORDS BY : VICTORIA JESIONEK | PHOTOS BY : TYLER BROOKS
22 year old Daryl Johns, started out like most musical child prodigies; nurtured by his parents to explore the intricacies of Jazz music; from toying with unique compositions, to experimenting with various instruments, his knowledge of the insular world of modern Jazz has been a foundation for his experimental approach to electronic, pop, and rap. A member of Onyx Collective and now touring as bassist for The Lemon Twigs, Daryl puts out music under the moniker Sweet Joseph, pulling inspiration from modern artists like Mac Demarco as well as the Jazz godfathers like Pat Metheny. His ever evolving style and playful yet complex approach to music makes us feel a sense of nostalgia, longing for days when music wasn’t so highly processed and more raw.
Where are you from and how long have you been playing music?
I’m from Englewood, New Jersey. I’m 22 years old and I’ve been playing instruments since I was two, starting with drums. I play bass, drums, keyboards, guitar, and sing.
How would you describe your music?
My music is happy, inspirational, progressive bubblegum pop.
You were raised by classically trained, musical parents. How has that influenced your music?
My parents have influenced my music because they showed me so much, from jazz to rock to R&B. My dad’s tastes have rubbed off on me especially, he was playing during the jazz fusion era of the ‘80s. I take lots of inspiration from that time period of jazz and other genres.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Musically I give credits to Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, and Baths. I’m into ‘90s emo rock like American Football and Cap’n Jazz. Mac DeMarco and Ariel Pink inspired me to record onto tape to create a nostalgic musical sound that can’t be identified by one time period. I also love jazz bassists like Charlie Haden and Eddie Gomez for their strong melodic content, and I love contemporary jazz pianist Aaron Parks; a friend and hero of mine for the same melodic reasons. My music heavily thrives on strong memorable melodies.
How did you meet The Lemon Twigs? What is it like to be on tour with them?
I met The Lemon Twigs through a group I play with called Onyx Collective. Both groups had been acquaintances. When The Lemon Twigs became aware of me through Onyx, they emailed me because they were looking for a new bassist. I went over to their house and started rehearsing- the rest is history. On tour it’s been great, we get silly and out of control. The humor is on point and the brothers dress so well so I try to get on their level for sure; each show feels like a fashion show, they’ve won awards for that shit apparently. We often thrift with each other each city we go to. The whole tour is a learning experience in every way for me, and it get to meet all sorts of new people and fans on the road.
Why did you start producing and releasing music?
I started making my own music because I got into Mac DeMarco in college and was enthralled by the whole DIY route of music. I realized you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars in order to achieve a good sound. When I started writing my own music I saw there was a common theme in all the songs I wrote- a strong melody and poppy sense mixed with the complex chords derived from the jazz I grew up on. I thought the sound of each song I wrote was unique and caught myself listening to voice memos of my ideas over and over and over again, which made me realize I have a knack for making catchy, yet intellectual music. So then I started recording with a Tascam Cassette 4 Track and got addicted to having control over the whole process from the writing, to the arranging, to the recording, to the mixing, to the end product. I’ve tried collaborating with people to record my songs with but 99% of the time I wish I was doing it alone. I like having the full control, because I like when things sound shitty sometimes. Some people want everything to sound perfect.
If you were able to produce music with anyone, who would it be?
I’d love to collaborate with Ariel Pink because of his recording style and his pop melodies and catchy-ness- the same things I value in music. He adds even quirkier stuff than I do so I’d be open to his weird ideas that I maybe would have never thought of. Also would like to collaborate with a trap rapper like Famous Dex. I love trap music a lot. I produce those kind of beats sometimes and although the recordings sound really clean, they have this overdrive filter on them that makes the whole thing sound like punk or metal. I love that shit, these new rappers are the new rockstars and I would like to contribute to that world of music as much as I can one day. I think pop music, specially trap shit, is in a good place now more than ever.
Any exciting new projects in the works?
On tour I’m getting to write an idea here and there on piano so I can’t wait to finish the ideas and record with with new gear I’ll get with this tour money. I’ll record in December when I get a break from tour. I’m excited for that.