Josie Mann, known as Jofi, is a singer/songwriter/producer from Sydney, Australia.
The 21 year old musician revealed her first project “Fly Baby / Before the Morning” on March 1st.
Fusing elements of soul/r&b and pop/electro, “Fly Baby / Before the Morning” offers an atmospheric record introducing Jofi’s musical identity. The self-produced project showcases Jofi’s outstanding harmonies and vocals along with an authentic songwriting.
“Fly Baby” is a vulnerable song about putting someone ahead of yourself and in the process, losing sight of who you are. In juxtaposition, “Before the Morning” is about a lack of acceptance, wanting to hold onto a person before they disappear. I think people often generalize break ups because it’s something everybody goes through,” expresses Jofi.
“Fly Baby / Before the Morning” is available worldwide.
My name is Josie Mann and I go under the name Jofi. I’m 21 living in Sydney, Australia.
What's your story?
I had a very musical upbringing. I spent most of my lunchtimes at school in the music rooms practicing and playing. I was in a pop/rock band. I performed a solo concert when I was 16 and had a YouTube channel which was gaining attention. I was on the uphill, until I got stuck. The perfectionist in me got in the way of sharing my music with others, along with the fact that my music taste was changing and my songwriting style was evolving. Some years onwards, the time feels right to start releasing my music.
Could you tell us a little bit about your childhood? What were you passionate about?
I was a confident and carefree kid. From a young age I loved being creative, starting with a passion for art. I kept an art book with me in school and would draw during Maths and Science class.
When did you realize you could sing?
I discovered my love for singing around age 12 when I auditioned for the year 6 musical singing ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles and scored a lead role. Following that, I took up singing lessons.
When did you start playing piano? Do you play any other instrument?
I started playing the piano at age 9 and I did grades until I was 17. I learned trumpet growing up and loved it, but it’s been a few years now since I’ve played. I played Timpani in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble throughout high school and was in a drumline, so I like to think I have potential as a percussionist. I can play some chordal stuff on the guitar.
Growing up, what were your favorite records to sing along to?
The records that stand out to me from my childhood would be ones that my Dad would regularly play, such as Genesis, the Beatles, Keane, Fountains of Wayne, to name a few. I loved pop music too though- I was a huge Pink fan, and I’ve still got videos of 13-year-old me singing ‘Beautiful’ by Christina Aguilera into my laptop webcam.
At what point did you decide to become an artist and release your original music?
I made a Facebook page and YouTube for my music when I was 15 called ‘Josie Mann Music’ and uploaded covers to my YouTube. After I graduated high school (which was 3 and a half years ago), I started studying Composition at The Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. The degree really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I became confused about what my compositional voice was and who I wanted to be in the music industry. I was writing music and receiving help from a producer but it never quite felt like the product I’d envisioned. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been learning how to use Logic Pro, and now I feel I’m good enough to produce my own music too, which is what I’ve been doing! Now that I am capable of taking full creative control, I’m happy, and it’s taken me a while, but I think I’ve finally found my voice.
So I can’t give a direct answer to this question, because it’s been my goal to release music for years! However, in February, I decided to go under the name ‘Jofi’ instead of my real name. Creating a fresh profile has helped me clarify my musical identity. I wrote and produced a lot of music at the end of last year and I got ‘Fly Baby’ and ‘Before the Morning’ mastered in January.
How would you define Jofi, the artist?
Jofi is a singer, songwriter and producer who writes indie soul pop, and sprinkles her music with lush, layered harmonies. The music is grounded in a light, ethereal style.
You've just released your first project "Fly Baby / Before the Morning". How did this project come about? Who did you work with?
‘Fly Baby’ is a vulnerable song about putting someone ahead of yourself and in the process, losing sight of who you are. In juxtaposition, ‘Before the Morning’ is about a lack of acceptance, wanting to hold onto a person before they disappear. I think people often generalize break ups because it’s something everybody goes through. But so many songs are written about them for a reason: they have a huge emotional impact.
I reached out to some of my dearest friends at university for feedback, but other than that it was just me. The songs were mastered by Magnus Lindberg Productions, who’s actually based in Sweden. I have to give a shout out to James Tarbotton for doing all the beautiful promotion photography and video. He’s a legend.
Could you describe us the songwriting/recording process for these two songs?
I keep a notebook of lyrics and I jot down everything in there. The songwriting process begins with the lyrics in front of me, and I sing them out loud and if I like what I improvise, I’ll record it on my phone. Then I open up my laptop and record it. I wrote the harmonies in ‘Fly Baby’ onto a score first before I sang them. Then I basically fill in everything else, mixing as I go along.
What made you want to release these two songs at once?
Good question! I wanted my first release to be totally me as well as an indication of what’s going to come next. While the 2 tracks are similar sonically (vocal layering, bass, light electronic beats and synths), the musical style is quite different. ‘Fly Baby’ reflects my love for soul/RnB more, while ‘Before the Morning’ features more electro-acoustic elements and links more to the type of stuff I write at university.
Could you tell us a little bit about the music video for "Before the Morning"? Who came up with the video concept?
I came up with the video concept and I asked James to film it for me. There are a few things about the clown symbolism that I liked and connected with. To call someone a ‘clown’ is to say they're a fool. I played the clown aka played the fool (applying/smearing the face paint). Sometimes I feel like a clown; I make stupid decisions or say silly things. The character of a clown is melodramatic and over the top, and I see myself this way often.
The day of filming was a crazy day, with both of us having to make do with things going wrong. I brought a cheap mirror to the shoot, which ended up being really useful. James leaned the mirror against a tree to reflect light onto my face. It started raining heavily half way through shooting, meaning that the face paint scene was cut short and the footage was pretty rushed. We got some cool footage of me lying on top of the mirror and James filmed my reflection, but this too was cut short when my weight caused the mirror to crack, to the point where it was no longer safe for me to lie on. By the end, I was completely soaked and my knees were bleeding from the mirror, but it was worth it.
How's it feel like to release your first original music?
I’m stoked- it feels like I finally have a musical identity now. The entire self-promotion process, from creating my website, the cover art, redesigning my facebook and Instagram, has given me a real sense of purpose and identity. I feel grounded in my musical style. It’s given me the drive I needed to finish unfinished music and I feel determined to give it my all, because I know that’s what is needed to succeed in this tough industry!
What or who inspires you the most?
My parents who love me even when I’m being the most difficult person on the planet. It’s definitely admirable. Also everybody who works really hard to achieve their goals and doesn’t give up.
What message do you want to convey through your art?
Exposing yourself through art is, personally, really scary, and being self-conscious has been a huge reason why I haven’t released anything until now. Basically, whatever I’m feeling, I’m going to portray in the realest way I can, through the compositional aspect and the lyrics. My music is an expression of what I feel, and I hope that people feel it and perhaps relate too. I hope listening to my music encourages people to open their ears and challenges them to enjoy music that’s a bit different and unique.
What does singing make you feel?
When I sing I feel like I was born to do it. It comes very naturally to me. I’m grateful that I have a creative way to express myself.
You are from Sydney, Australia. How would you describe this city?
It’s a beautiful place to live and I’m privileged to live here. It’s a city full of passionate young people leading the way for a positive future.
What are your goals for 2019?
My personal goals are to be more patient with others, to be productive with my time and to love myself more. My musical goals would be to continue growing my audience and perform live shows.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
Treating everybody with respect and no pre-judgement, telling people you love them and care about them more, looking after our earth and doing everything we can to preserve it.
What biggest lessons have you learned as a human being and as an artist so far?
What I’ve learnt as a human being: anything can happen, even when you least expect it. Don’t get mad at someone who has no malicious intent. What I’ve learnt as an artist: having talent is only not just the key to success, working hard and being disciplined is. And to my fellow perfectionists: it’s never going to be perfect.
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