Mak­ing waves


The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - By FIONA HO fiona@thes­

bri­tish singer-song­writer Joe brooks is hav­ing a splash with his lat­est eP,

Bri­tish singer-song­writer Joe Brooks is an independent artiste in ev­ery sense of the word. From teach­ing him­self how to play the gui­tar to build­ing a solid online rep­u­ta­tion as a thriv­ing force of mu­sic, the bud­ding 24-year-old has wrought ev­ery step on his path to­wards fame.

his ven­ture into mu­sic be­gan af­ter he heard Aus­tralian singer Der­rin Nauen­dorf per­form at his home­town (southamp­ton) in 2003. it left such an im­pres­sion on him that he went home, de­ter­mined to mas­ter the gui­tar. Be­fore long, the as­pir­ing young mu­si­cian was mak­ing waves on Mys­pace with his ten­der self-com­posed numbers.

true to his mel­low but op­ti­mistic na­ture, much of Brooks’ mu­sic re­ver­ber­ates with deep, hope­ful long­ing. his pen­sive sin­gle, Su­per­man, on which he re­veals his boy­ish fan­tasies of want­ing to be the hero to win the girl of his dreams proves to be one of his most pop­u­lar hits to date. Su­per­man was so pop­u­lar on Mys­pace it gen­er­ated one mil­lion plays in just eight days of its re­lease last year.

the young mu­si­cian, who has since played sold-out venues across Bri­tain and the United states, has been called the next John Mayer. in­deed, with his sooth­ing, but­tery vo­cals and laid­back charisma, it isn’t hard to see why.

he hasn’t let the at­ten­tion get to his head, though. in con­trast with Mayer’s flirty, os­ten­ta­tious na­ture, Brooks sounded pos­i­tively calm and con­ge­nial through­out a re­cent phone in­ter­view from Los An­ge­les, his new home.

“Even at 16, i knew it was go­ing to be dif­fi­cult but i didn’t quite an­tic­i­pate just how hard i would have to work. And i worked my socks off,” the singer re­counts his mu­si­cal jour­ney.

that said, he has got to be one of the ters­est peo­ple i have spo­ken to. though charm­ing, Brooks is care­ful and direly con­cise, of­fer­ing only stac­cato replies that end as sud­denly as they be­gin. Clearly, he re­serves his po­etic li­cense solely for his mu­sic. he keeps it tothe-point even as he shares his crazy ex­pe­ri­ences while on tour.

“i trav­elled across 35 states in Amer­ica in a tiny sedan with three grown men and a drum-kit. it was so packed, we lit­er­ally could not fit an­other CD in the car while we’re in it and i was sit­ting right at the back!” he re­calls his two-month trip with a laugh.

“But i also had some of the most in­cred­i­ble nights of my life when i per­formed and i would do it all over again in two sec­onds.”

he hints he could be mak­ing an im­mi­nent visit to our shores. he has had a taste of the Asian fes­ti­val crowd with a show at the in­cheon Pen­ta­port rock 2011 Fes­ti­val in south Korea in Au­gust.

“i could be per­form­ing in Malaysia at the end of the year. Chances are look­ing re­ally good, so far…,” he re­veals.

For now, he is hav­ing a splash with his lat­est EP, A Rea­son To Swim. he de­scribes the six-songs record as a mish-mash of dif­fer­ent el­e­ments.

“it has lots of dif­fer­ent sounds – from bal­lads to light-hearted acous­tic numbers to crazy, psy­che­delic beats,” he says. “i like the va­ri­ety be­cause i don’t want to be pinned down to any one genre.”

he finds his muses in le­gendary mu­si­cians Cat stevens and ray Charles. But he says his big­gest in­flu­ence is none other than his dad. “he is a huge in­spi­ra­tion. he’s also my best friend,” Brooks pro­claims.

A chance meet­ing with a stranger also yielded a serendip­i­tous mo­ment for the wideeyed singer.

“i met a home­less guy at the back of a restau­rant one night and he was telling me his life’s story. it struck me there and then that, ‘hey man, ev­ery­body has a rea­son to swim.’ that’s how the ti­tle of my EP came about.”

Holes In­side, the first sin­gle off the al­bum is al­ready on a steady ro­ta­tion on lo­cal air­waves.

“it sends a mes­sage about stay­ing strong, even as your dreams and faith col­lide,” the singer says. n Joe Brook’s ARea­son­toSwim is dis­trib­uted by Sony Mu­sic Malaysia.

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