A vibrant center for creativity, Toronto has often been noted for its musical exports over the years. One fresh face making noise on the scene is JonoJosh, a budding R&B/pop artist known for soul bearing lyrics, grandiose vocals, and upbeat instrumentals.
Throughout his childhood and young adult life, the Ontario native was heavily influenced by choir and gospel music. In tracks such as “Birds” these fundamental inspirations are clear. When he sings, his voice is pure and angelic. Also a professional dancer and choreographer, JonoJosh takes his love of the old school and mixes it with another, up-tempo club music.
Tracks from his debut EP Outside are clear snapshots of how JonoJosh infuses modern pop with a gospel heritage. The titular track starts off with a classical piano riff before quickly switching gears into 808 percussions commonly used by club DJs. The chorus is angelic, as if meant for a choir, but also full of bass drops and techno synths for oomph.
JonoJosh compels listeners by bringing them into his world through simple, poetic lyricism. He bursts into “Birds” with his rich, solitary voice, searching for answers and revealing inner anxieties and insecurities, as well as his personal drive to grow and learn. “I cannot find where I lie in this place,” he passionately croons. “Though I failed, I still try because it’s all that matters. Birds do not need the world to be explained, but I do, I do, I do.”
Letting his emotions guide like a compass, JonoJosh often takes slices of his life to script his verses.
Reflecting on his lyricism, JonoJosh admitted to Groundsounds that when he was writing the track “Birds,” he was looking for an identity, purpose, and self-reliance. “At times when I asked these tough questions, it felt overwhelming but I realized that the only way I would find the answers was if I kept asking and looking.”
Letting his emotions guide like a compass, JonoJosh often takes slices of his life to script his verses. In the song “Hypnotized,” he spills out a lovelorn tale. “Stuck in your lover’s gaze, don’t wanna break the connection,” he sings. “I walk into your maze and play your game as a lesson.”
He told Atwood Magazine that the lyrics for “Hypnotized” were inspired by dreams he had due to these strong feelings of infatuation. “When I woke up I immediately grabbed my pen,” he explained. “It wasn’t until after I wrote out all the lyrics that I realized what the song was about and it rang true. Often in this world, we want to find appreciation from other people rather than trying to be comfortable in our own skin.”
For the time being, JonoJosh is still at the very beginning of his career as a musician, but he’s making all the right moves. His Outside EP, which can be found on his SoundCloud page, proves that he’s a serious talent with a solid foundation. By synthesizing his own style of soul-pop fusion and infusing it with heartfelt stories and beautiful singing, JonoJosh has earned his fans. Expect even more in 2017.