Joe Mirza is a London-based musician who’s latest track “Never Get Close” has received great support from established radio shows, press and audiophiles across Europe. I met Joe in a small café just off Carnaby Street were we discussed about his music project The Slow Revolt, his future ambitions and life in Peckham. His bubbly personality and his great sense of humour made this a very enjoyable and fun conversation.
Hello Joe. So, I know you came here from Peckham. Were you born there or is it a cool place to live?
I was born very close to Peckham, East Dulwich, but moved to the South Coast when I was a couple of years old. I grew up there, came back here for university and I’ve been staying in South-East London since. So, I’ve been living 10 years in Peckham. It hasn’t always been that cool.
Talking about cool things, what’s the coolest thing to do in Peckham?
I’m aware of things going on in Peckham, though in the last year I’ve barely left the front room. There is a wealth of good music happening just across Rye Lane. It has grown out of the students and the artist community. Kind of interdisciplinary nights, but there would be music there too. It has become a lot more established particularly in the summer. I’d say the most reliable night is Rhythm Section if you like house music. There’s generally a pretty good approach to these things. Peckham’s got a really unique character.
So, is there a music scene going on over there?
There is striking a balance between attracting new people and attracting the right people. There is a music scene of sorts going on in Peckham, but I’m not really involved with it. I am not really making music that immediately fits in with the club nights. It’s very much party orientated than ‘artist’ orientated. Music supports the night in a way.
It’s really about dancing and I’m making something that sits between a lot of areas. But there is definitely a scene. Scene is a funny word isn’t it?
Are you a full-time musician or do you do anything else apart from music?
I’m not full-time at the moment. I was last year. You know as money comes in… I’m working part-time for universities in fact. I’m working at UCL and at Imperial for some amazing physics professor.
Before that, I was doing mental health research, interviewing people who had depression; kind of self-taught in the methodology. But I got a publishing deal last year, so I disappeared for a while to make music and now I’m back.
When did you realize that music is your thing?
Probably at 13 years old. It wasn’t conscious; it’s just such an integral part of my life, really. I’m a guitarist and sort of sing but I’ve been into electronic music for so long. I was playing with an unsigned, indie or left-field, rock style band, like DIY kind of stuff. I mean some good stuff should surface at some point. I don’t want to say anything because bands are tricky to hold together.
What does The Slow Revolt mean to you?
It was a lyric from a song that I ditched. First of all it’s a slight in-joke.
I’m incredibly slow at working and it’s this little personal war of letting go of the work I’m doing and putting it out.
It’s ludicrous; you could just talk to my manager or friends and they’d probably just roll their eyes. So there is that slight of humorous aspect to it, but also – along with a lot of lyrics I write – though not exactly a manifesto, but notes to myself to remind me of the larger project and the creative process. You are signing up to this, to be in a constant flux for the rest of your life and that’s how it should be. So, regardless of things going well externally, just keep focus on the work and process.
In early 2013 we got the first taste of your music with the 3-track EP “This Dark Matter”. Has anything changed since then?
I’ve amassed lot of music that is yet to be released. I’ve really explored a lot of the aspects that were probably just latent ideas in those early tracks; with those songs I tried to hint the full richness of all the music I love.
Your new single “Never get close” sounds true to your original sound. However, the B-Side “Hold” sounds so different. What else should we expect from you?
I haven’t finalized exactly what I’m presenting. Some of the material is not yet finished. The original idea was to bridge all these worlds of club focused electronic music, the song writing which I want to make as tight and as rich as possible, sound-design and this whole other world of organic music I love.
You also gave Never Get Close for free. What do you think about today’s music? Should music be free?
I invest in the music I love, more than I should really, bank-balance-wise. I really don’t know. Music is becoming devalued in certain respects, but then enjoyed so much. I think of the democratic part that it should be an open thing because it’s music, but the amount of work people put into stuff, should be met with an appropriate amount of value.
When are you releasing your début? Is there a title for it?
It hasn’t been decided yet. I hope later half of this year, perhaps on FIELDS records. There is no title yet.
What’s the plan after releasing your début? Is there an idea that you have in mind?
I’d like to develop this album a bit more. I just want to put out a really high quality record, that takes few chances, and what I’d love is to be able to put together a 3-piece touring unit, more of a live experience than just myself.
The problem with electronic music playing it live, is that there is endless possibility from the production angle, but you are a bit constrained. I miss the freedom of playing in a band when you can just move the song into a different direction. I wanna have a bit of that freedom in the setup and musicians who can help me articulate these ideas or even more sophisticated ideas. I wanna play on much bigger scale events.
In other words you want something more distinctive, much more like your name to define a genre… Am I right?
If you’d said that from the beginning I could have answered all of your questions, because that’s basically it! I like dance music, electronic music, going to clubs; I like the fact that it’s just a big, evolving scene, but personally…
I want to approach it as an artist and carve out a very particular niche, walking a very careful line between a lot of different types of music.
If you had to choose one WEEKID moment that you have experienced so far what would it be?
I didn’t anticipate the warmth of response to this recent tune actually. When you are releasing things it’s quite nerve-wracking. People have responded very well and it’s been a great experience and I’ve played a couple of really great shows. Let’s say the past month since I’ve released Never Get Close and the couple of shows I had are really galvanizing responses and it’s made me feel pretty optimistic about how future things are gonna be received.
Thank you very much Joe, I can’t wait for your album.
The Slow Revolt is playing with Karin Park and Leon Else @ Hoxton Square Bar, July 9th
Electric Harmony Basement Sessions with Barnaby Carter in Bristol, July 27th