Cutting through the noise with soul artist Joel Sena

Emerging Sydney artist Joel Sean has come out into the music industry banging with some sax sexual music. He effortlessly fuses jazz with soul which is evident in his latest offering ‘Grindin’ featuring soul partner Phoebe Day.

We sit down with Joel Sena and chat about how he fuses sax into his music, the importance of building confidence and why he thinks future soul artists’ should add a little bit of sax into their music. 

Grindin’ is sax sexual, can you tell us how you created this tune?

It all happened so quickly. It started when I sat down at the piano. I started playing some chords. Then it all got out of hand… I actually wrote almost this whole song in a few hours at home one day. I got the meat of the song down first - chords and melody - and then slowly built up the production around it. I wanted to really feature the sax in a unique way. It's one of those songs that just kind of wrote itself... It's a good feeling when that happens. Most of the parts I wrote for different instruments just felt like they belonged there. We laid down drums, vocals and keys in the studio. The rest of it I produced and mixed myself.

Your songs are about building confidence and believing your journey. Is this something you've gone through?

It's something I think a lot of people go through in life. It's particularly easy to become a cynic in the music scene where there's so much social comparison, competition and very few support structures. Finding the confidence to stick to your guns and follow a path you believe in is really important. I have definitely had to figure some of that stuff out in my own journey so far. There were times when I was on the cusp of throwing in the towel and giving music the boot. But here I am... It's not just about music though. Whenever we strive to do something more with ourselves, to be something better, we face criticism, self doubt and anxiety. I like to write music about pushing forward through that. I think it's a recurring theme of being human.

As a musician, what setbacks do you face?

Musicians have some pretty unique challenges at the moment. But with every challenge comes a unique solution. The world is inundated with 'noise' at the moment. Our news feeds are overflowing with content from all kinds of people. Cutting through that noise is harder than ever. Creating a niche for yourself has never been so important. Another big setback as a saxophonist is that less people are going out to experience music live. You really have to bring your own crowd these days. This makes gigging expensive and stressful. Again, there are solutions to this, but it does make it tricky at times.

You also released ‘In Transit' can you tell us about that?

‘In Transit’ was a single I released early October. It's a jazzy/hip hop instrumental tune. I went for a bit of a different sound on it with an old school piano vibe and sampled drums. It began as just piano and sax but turned into a full ensemble. I wanted to experiment with some new and different sounds on the track which was good fun. It's kind of nostalgic and bittersweet in mood, somewhat delving into the idea of transition in my own life.

If you could mix sax with any genre, what would it be?

I reckon some of these Soulection style Future Soul producers could do with some more sax. I'm always interested to hear how sax works over some of the more electronic sounding Soul and R&B.

What stimulates your soul?

Good coffee, good company and a worthy cause to fight for.