As you may have already garnered, if not through Joey Fourr’s music then by the stunning pictures that accompany this story, that they’re an artist who doesn’t do things by halves. As you can probably also tell, they’re a fiercely independent and creative artist too.
Back in 2012, Joseph Prendergast rose from the ashes of math-rock band Tubelord as Joey Fourr – a pop-inspired project that started in a bedroom. Since then, they’ve gone through several different mutations, from those first lo-fi EPs, to the haywire wonky-pop of debut album TO THE FLOORR.
Earlier this year, Joey released second album Velvet Realness. With a name inspired by the New York drag scene of the 80s and 90s, and with striking new visuals – including a multi-coloured Bowie-esque mullet – the album already seemed different to its predecessor. “I think it’s been more of a personal growth and a personal change which is ultimately going to reflect that,” they explain. “It kind of signals a change of what was going on around me. When I started, I was very much a part of this DIY scene in London… Once all of that disbanded, I suppose I looked more to myself to entertain myself. I think I found my own feet if you know what I mean. I wasn’t part of a group or looking to others for acceptance, I just started saying ‘fuck it, I want to do what I want.’”
With this attitude, Velvet Realness moves away from the bubblegum guitars that populated TO THE FLOORR and into an area that is, as Fourr puts it, more sexy. ‘Bath Tiem’ is the perfect example; echoing vocals drift above a slinking bassline, while a disco beat adds groove to the whole thing. I mention that the track reminds me of contemporary funk and R&B artists like Blood Orange. “Oh my god yeah, I was listening to so much of that,” they agree. “I was listening to so much funk and R&B from the 80s as well. I definitely used that as a template, or almost as a set of rules to create from.”
Queerness has always been central to Joey Fourr’s music, but for them, the queer experience is simply a personal one: “I think the reason people get confused is because normally when you have queer bands talking about their experience it becomes a thing that is for them, and for queer kids. I feel like you can have queer experiences, like love and romance, and it can be for everyone. It’s just a human experience, you know what I mean. Also if you’re listening to a song and it says ‘I love this boy’ and you’re not sexually attracted to boys, and you can’t just swap it round to make it your own then…” they chuckle. “It’s not that hard, you know what I mean?”
Writing about these experiences can be a distinctly political act in itself, but Fourr dabbles in more overt politics elsewhere on the album, such as on opener ‘Uhmerika’. But, they concede, “I just can’t write angry, hardcore punky songs.” The London scene in which they started the project, centred around places like the now-closed Dalston venue Power Lunches, suited Fourr perfectly: “I love pop music, and I love pop songs and shimmery bits and bobs. That’s what drew me to the DIY scene in London. For the first time ever I was around people who weren’t tuning their drums when recording and weren’t tuning their guitars perfectly. They were just pressing record and that was it.”
This DIY spirit is very much still present within Joey Fourr’s music. The songs on Velvet Realness were part recorded in their room, before being sent off to MJ from Hookworms to mix. “I sent all of the project files up to MJ and oh my god, MJ is just… I don’t know what he does. It’s just phenomenal. Everything just has so much energy, it’s wild, I can’t believe it.” The album was then self-released – more out of necessity – but meant the end result was exactly as wanted.
They’re not resting on their laurels however; Fourr tells me that album number three is already in the bag. They confide that it has an even stronger pop element, but that “everything is sort of up in the air right now, I have no idea. But I want to do something exciting.”
Joey Fourr will be coming to Bristol on 27th August as part of DIY label Art is Hard’s (the first label to put out any of Fourrs’ songs) seventh birthday celebrations. With a four-piece band in tow, Fourr says that the gig will probably be the last time that the band will play its current set, explaining that they want to ‘scrape out the old and put the new in’ soon after. “I have the most terrible attention span,” they sigh. “I get bored of myself so quick…”
With their constant creativity, and incredible music, it doesn’t sound like anyone else is getting bored of Joey Fourr any time soon.
Velvet Realness is out now. Check out ‘BATH TIEM’ below.