NewTracks New Artist: Josette

NewTracks New Artist: Josette

One of the most intriguing artists to recently come out of Ōtautahi is Josette Klausen, a singer-songwriter with a big voice and great sensibility for bringing a breath fresh air into her neo-soul aesthetic. Josette just released her debut single One Shot, produced by fellow Cantabrian Tim Heeringa, aka Wulfie. NZ On Air Music also seem to dig the song, featuring it as part of their NewTracks compilation this February.

What’s your full name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Josette Elizabeth Klausen (my friends call me Josie). I am from Ōtautahi, Aotearoa, partially raised in Toronto, Canada. I play the guitar and keys.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

It took me until the very end of my high school education to be brave enough to even say out loud that becoming an artist was my biggest dream! After an under-confident audition I went straight to Ara Music Arts, and my time there developed my confidence with singing, writing music and I met so many wonderful musicians that I continue to play and collaborate with now. Attending Ara is what made me feel, as a late original music ‘bloomer’, a part of Ōtautahi’s music community.

Any other previous projects we might know you from?

This is my first scary step out into the open!

What’s the background story of how Josette came to be as a project?

Choosing this project’s energy and genre was a direct response to wanting to play live more. I picked my grooviest, most-fun-to-play, and best-to-jam-with-the-band songs, so that people would hear them and go, “Dang! I would love to see this at a gig.” Thanks to my time at Ara I have a lot of songs, but because I started writing music only a few short years ago, the music varies in genre quite a lot, as I’ve tried to find what makes me tick the most. Josette live shows were born from jamming my tunes with people I studied with; Sam Burt, Euan McTaggart, Alice Tozer & Brad Meyer, but the recorded music is a complete brainchild of myself and Tim Heeringa, aka Wulfie.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

Writing has always been my secret favourite child of the musical process, and I don’t think the way I do it will ever stop evolving.

When I first started, every song was a direct response to what I’d been struggling with as of late, and it helped me process and come to metaphorical conclusions about so much in my life. But nowadays, I find myself writing and coming up with thoughts and emotions that I didn’t even know that I had until I’m singing about them over my guitar. Writing is the most beautiful, wild thing ever. I also find that I am better now at having writing be an organic part of my life, ideas will spring up when I’m inspired, or just milling about. Compared to when I first started, I’d have to sit down and say, “Okay dude, let’s write something now.”

How and when did you come up with the name?

Josette is my birth name, but because everyone close to me calls me Josie, it kind of feels like my alter ego. It was actually an ex-boyfriend of mine’s mum who told me that it would be such a great artist name. Cool lady. I should probably message her thank you!

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

Ahh man, I still feel like such a baby. I’ve only been gigging original music for a year, but I’d have to say that we had this one beautiful gig at our favourite venue, Darkroom, supporting Just Another June, and it was the most remarkably fun and musically great gig ever. Opening for The Raddlers at UCSA was also so fun, and so cool to be on such a different stage.

Other than gigs, the most amazing thing I’ve experienced so far is just the absolute kindness of Kiwis. There have been so many times where I’ve messaged someone or emailed someone thinking to myself that it will be a miracle if they respond at all, and then have had the most incredible advice or Zoom calls. Kiwis are so so nice, and make this terrifying journey of trying to start a music career, a little less terrifying.

What makes One Shot stand out for you as a single?

One Shot was our opening song at every gig, thanks to the acapella intro. It brings everyone in and captures their attention, and tends to be a crowd favourite. It was also the first song I wrote in this new style I was exploring and it felt right.

And what’s the story behind One Shot?

One Shot was born out of my first ever time co-writing with a bass player. The musical focus is on the driving rhythm that revolves around the hits on the 1 & 2. It’s such a fun groove because though we hit it hard, it still stays sparse.

Lyrically, I love working with a strong story narrative, whether it’s true from my life or not. I think I started with the rhythms and vowels of the melody, then found the first lyric, ‘…all I need is one shot’, and then from there, I imagined this entire scenario. A lot of people think it’s a sexual song, and I love that, so if you do, don’t change your interpretation! All I’ll say is that it’s written from the perspective of a money-hungry talent agent.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

It changes all the time, but lately, it’s definitely the arrangement of the second verse. It was completely Tim’s idea to have it drive forward in that way, and I am obsessed!

Who did you write/record/produce the single with and where? 

The song was written with Brad Meyer and Tim Heeringa (Wulfie), and recorded and produced with Tim. It used to be more RnB, and a lot faster, but with playing it live we really found its groove.

What would you like listeners to take away from the song?

The idea that in the entertainment industry, humans make money off of other humans. Where is the line between humanity and a job? If I cancel a gig it’s all good, I’ll probably save money! But if Ariana Grande is sick and cancels a show, hundreds of people lose a job for a night. Such a wild concept…

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

With my first time releasing I’ve gone with a happy medium. The first single is one that is a crowd favourite and that we think gives a good representation of what kind of music I am performing and writing. And then the second single is my personal favourite that shows off my personality more. Comfort Show is due out on February 18, and there’s more following after that…

Who else is in your team?

Just me. Tim has been a fantastic person to bounce ideas and strategies off, but for One Shot it has just been me and my laptop. A very stressful, and hugely educational experience.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

Oooh great question!
I’d have to say Caroline by Saint Peter’s Thursday, I Wasn’t Into You Anyways by Emily C. Browning and Actors by Wulfie

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others out there?

I have missed out on funding from NZOA which was super tricky! I don’t meet most of the criteria! I don’t have a lot of followers or heaps of streams, and it’s hard to get a show with lots of seats sold when we aren’t allowed in today’s world. I’ve only just released something to help find my audience, so hopefully one day I will meet the criteria 🙂
I’ve managed to fund this project thanks to three jobs, so I hope people don’t listen to the techy production and think I can afford it or anything… that’s not the case at all, haha. I’ve been so lucky to get onto NewTracks with my debut single and I am just still so flabbergasted.

To others, just keep saving your dollars, put it towards your dreams as priority number one always. Keep putting your energy into it and no matter what it is, you’ll get something back. Commitment is my number one rule, and it seems to be getting me results!

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

I adore Newzician Mag and Coup De Main. And I am an absolute fiend for watching award show performances and music videos. I used to be a dancer and have done stage directing so I get very obsessive about their choices. If you are one of my unlucky flatmates you will have been forced to watch Dua Lipa’s 2019 performance at the MTV EMA’s, once at the very least. Perfection.

Any last words?

See you on February 18 for three and a half minutes of funnnnn!!!!