[Huriyah Quadri | Print Editor]
In anticipation for the release of his upcoming album Night Swim, I kicked back to have a sneaky listen and to ask Josef Salvat some questions about his work. Josef is most well-known for his cover of Sia Furler’s “Diamonds”, which was featured in both an advertisement for Sony and The Perfect Guy. Surprisingly, when asked what it was like to hear himself on screen, Josef replied: “Believe it or not I still haven’t heard my voice on screen so I’m not sure.” This makes me question whether Drake ever looked back at “Hotline Bling”.
There’s an acoustic version of the title song “Night Swim” floating around on YouTube, but it’s the version on the album that will leave you staring at the raindrops racing down your window, reminiscing about those bittersweet summer days you spent indoors because there’s no such thing as summer in England. I liked the acoustic version but the version on the album was amazing. “Night Swim” captures those fleeting connections we make that allow us to divulge in the act of recreating ourselves, even if it’s for a moment: “With you I forget who I’ve been, I’m clean,” yearning to hold onto that moment; Josef continues to sing, “Just stay a little longer and swim / With me in the roof top pool.”
When asked about his inspiration for “Night Swim”, Josef said:
“I was in LA ‘doing some writing’ but actually just hanging out and I fell in love for about two weeks. I had some money burning a hole in my pocket so I rented this nice hotel suite with a private pool for us for a night. Then I left back to London and it was all over and I lived in the fantasy for the next six wintry months. The song was written half in LA and half in London.”
The memory of his experience at LA are laced in the lyrics, notably: “Oh, I spent all my money on this few / So I could be alone lost with you.” A feeling most of us can relate to whether it’s spending hundreds on a flight to be with someone you love/cat or some quality time with a close friend/cat.
“Paradise” begins with a very Florence and the Machine vibe to it. The song, according to Josef: “is about escaping your reality and slipping into oblivion or ‘paradise’. It’s kind of any altered mental state that helps you escape the present.” As an avid reader, that’s my favourite kind of mental state and explains why Josef feels “Not being in control” is the best thing about creating music.
“Paradise” speaks volumes about the act of escapism, just letting go: “Where we’re heading, time no longer cares.” It’s definitely one of my favourite songs on the album.
Josef’s music sounds like it comes straight from the heart and you can tell the lyrics to each of the songs in Night Swim resonate very closely to the singer (well, he did write them after all.) It’s no wonder that when I asked Josef about his favourite thing about performing live, he said: “It can be the most free thing in the world and when it is like that it’s the most amazing feeling.” His desire to be free is definitely evident in his music as you’re left with the impression that he doesn’t hold anything back; Night Swim is an album etched in raw emotion and admittance.
“Till I Found You” stood out to me, mainly because of what it says to the listener. The song sets the scene describing life as a “jungle” where there’s no certainty over whether “you’re lamb, or you’re lion, or both / You are whatever gets you through.” Have you ever done something stupid to fit in only to realise how stupid it was? Josef sings about succumbing to peer pressure “playing whatever role I had to play / crumbling under the weights of expectation” until meeting someone who allowed him to feel like he could be true to himself.
Honesty seems to be the policy, when asked who he would like to collaborate with, Josef replied: “This is most definitely someone I have never heard of yet. Any time I’ve worked with people I had expectations of it ends up a bit disappointing.” Hello group project disappointments.
When I asked Josef’s what his favourite song on the album was, he said: “They were all my favourites when I wrote them. Now I’m really just enjoying what they feel like together.” After listening to the album myself, I have to agree.
The songs flow so well from start to finish you feel both satisfied and shocked when it ends. I reached the last song, “In the Audience” and felt confused when I looked at the time; I’d gone through a whole album without skipping a single song. I keep changing my mind over which song is my favourite (for the sake of consistency in this article, I’ll say “Paradise” and “Night Swim”)
The album is promising for sure; it won’t disappoint those who have fallen for his soulful sound. When asked about the amount of creative influence he had in the production of Night Swim, Josef answered:
“A lot as I had written and produced demos for everything before we went into the studio and these acted as the blueprint for much of the album. Rich Cooper produced Night Swim and we have been working together in one way or another for five years now so it’s very collaborative. Where there was no blueprint we would sit there until we got one.”
Josef appears to enjoy being very hands on with his work, it’s amazing how one person can do so many things. In regards to the process of writing songs itself, when asked about how long it usually takes for him to write a song and his typical working day, Josef answered:
“I think my shortest is about 10 or 20 minutes and my longest finished song is about two years.
“I find it really hard to set a routine because the moment I establish one I tend to have to travel somewhere, which breaks it up. I think one consistent thing is that I do a lot of work at night and use the mornings for sleep.”
Hm, the daily life of a singer-song writer sounds quite familiar, no? *stares at pile of coursework.*
Josef is on tour for Night Swim and will be hitting the UK in March 2016. The album is expected to be released on 19th February, 2016. It’s available to pre-order on iTunes for £9.99.