Hey Joe! How did you go about choosing the songs?
The songs chose me. But really, I just scrolled through some playlists and some memories, and I picked the best of the bunch.
You spent a year away at the College of William & Mary near Richmond, VA. Was there a big music scene there? How did it influence your tastes?
In Williamsburg itself, a “living history” colonial town dominated by a historic college, the music scene pretty much solely consisted of fife-and-drum bands on the one hand and then shows at the Meridian, a DIY space ran by students. It was totally unlikely but a great thing to have, and there was a real sense of community around it. Anything from ambient noise to punk bands played shows there. The nearest actual scenes were Richmond, about an hour north, and D.C., about three hours north – Richmond is a weird but interesting mix between rap, punk, and indie pop, and D.C. has pretty got whatever you want. I saw Perfume Genius there, and that was awesome. For Virginia in general, it ranges from country and bluegrass to progressive death metal. I’d say that the really active DIY scene just solidified my love for lo-fi and scrappy indiepop. I also left really liking horrendous pop-country a lá Luke Bryan.
What are the first three songs you’d take to your island?
Joan of Arc – “White Out” (How Memory Works, 1998)
This song has always been a contender for my all time favourite. I can’t really explain how it makes me feel, but it’s some form of good. It’s really repetitive and totally weird, but Joan of Arc have got some special something about them, and “White Out” is the cream of the crop. “There’s fruitflies on the toothbrush, there’s teeth in the sink. Pick and chews” might be kind of genius.
Paul Simon – “Crazy Love Vol. ii” (Graceland, 1986)
As well as being a totally suitable tune for a desert island – whispy, tropical – it’ll always remind me of spending Thanksgiving in a North Carolina beach house. It’s also from Graceland, which could be a perfect album, and very nearly made up the entirety of this list.
The Beach Boys – “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (Pet Sounds, 1966)
My dad is a bit of a beach boy himself, so it’s no surprise that California’s answer to The Beatles was the soundtrack to my childhood. There’s something ridiculously nostalgic about Pet Sounds and in particular this song. I’m thinking it might be that distant organ at the beginning. Whatever it is, I dig it.
What is the best band you’ve found through working at Exeposé Music?
On the Exeter scene, it’s gotta be Daisy Vaughan. When we had Daisy in for the Poltimore Sessions, I was mesmerized – her voice, and songwriting, is otherwordly. Outside our local bubble, I was really taken with This Is The Kit (Bristol so still kind of local, actually), who isn’t dissimilar to Daisy, with their offbeat little gems about spoons.
How about your next few songs for the island?
Courtney Barnett – “Elevator Operator” (Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, 2015)
Seriously, how good is Courtney Barnett? Her’s is honestly the best rock band going at the moment. They haven’t yet produced a bad song – it’s one Aussie-tinged jam after another replete with witty lyrics and clever little riffs. I find it not hard to smile when Courtney’s playing, especially when she can get lyrics about Vegemite and Sim City into a song about a mistaken suicide attempt and generational jealousy.
Cøllege – “Tuesday” (Wengsday, 2013)
Flashback to my misspent (best) years devoting all my time and money to Kent’s microscopic emo scene. Nah, not like MCR, but like Cøllege, a band full of friends who absolutely define that era for me. And “Tuesday” here is no amateur ditty – it’s so well written, and the second half has got more feeling than Morgan Freeman. “Lose our minds trying to find out why we’re here and what we do” is proper deep.
Stephen Steinbrink – “Last Love (At The End of the World)” (I Drew a Picture, 2013)
Every person that really likes acoustic stuff will tell you that they know the best songwriter going. If they don’t say Stephen Steinbrink, they are objectively wrong. Seriously. A total music hermit, Stephen has been all up and down the West Coast, and his über-nuanced, beautifully written songs, including this one about, you guessed it, the end of the world, are mesmerising. Get him in your life.
How would you describe your music taste? Has it been influenced by Exeposé Music?
It’s something that’s always shifted and has never been too restrictive, besides when I was in year 8 and only listened to bands with screamers. If I had to pin it down, I’d say I’m more interested in indie music (a pretty broad thing in itself) than pop, although I make allowances for Taylor Swift, and I’ve recently got into trap which I promise is non-ironic. Exeposé Music has definitely broadened my tastes – that’s kind of inevitable when one moment you’re reviewing a Cavern show, and the next you’re editing a column about Icelandic pop.
What are the last two tracks you’d take with you?
Young Thug – “With That” (Barter 6, 2015)
Speaking of trap, this is probably my favourite ever trap song by my favourite trap artist. If you know me well, you’ll know that I’ve got a bit of a thing for Thugger, who I believe is pushing the boundaries of urban music. Lyrically and vocally, he’s nuts, and completely addictive. In this song, co-sign Duke also raps that “dressed in all black, I on the road just like an Uber-man”. Now that’s something.
The Onions – Hey Man (The On1ons, 2015)
This might be the worst thing I’ve ever done, but I’m putting a song on here from a band I used to be in. Yeah, I’m not going to apologise. The Onions will go down as the weirdest, and probably best, band I’ve ever played in. “Hey Man” is simply euphoric. It’s dumb, and all over the place. It’s probably horrible. But it’s my “Sound of Silence”.
You’ve been in a few projects aside from The Onions, and currently Trystero and EUJO. Can you tell us about them?
Basically, I play the drums, I really like being in bands, and I love playing gigs. So far, the band count is at seven, which is either good or bad depending on how you look at it. One of them actually did a short tour. One of them is mentioned just above. EUJO is a bit different in that it’s a university society, but it’s been a great experience this year.
What book would you take on the island with you?
The wise answer would probably be something by Bear Grylls. Actually, though, I’d take The World According To Garp, by John Irving. It’s a sprawling, and incredibly sentimental novel, and I will never forget it.
And finally, what would your luxury item be?
Birkenstocks are fairly luxury sandals, right? Well, those. They are so chill. Catch them on a campus near you this summer.
What’s been your best bit of this last year? And what are you most looking forward to next year?
It hasn’t happened yet because all of Exeter’s DJs refuse to play Young Thug. Too bad. Battle of the Bands with Trystero was a pretty awesome experience, actually. Next year, I’m looking forward to hopefully moving in to an apartment somewhere and making it into a jungle.
Finally, how have you found being an editor at Exeposé Music?
It’s honestly been a great experience, from getting to know such a talented and fun committee to seeing first-hand just how excellent and original student writing can be. I also can’t thank Tristan enough for going above and beyond as my co-editor. Thanks, all!