Joel Compass: "Seal Sang Me Happy Birthday"
EXCLUSIVE! The singer talks to MTV about beatboxing, his dad and LA...
Joel Compass is a singer, producer and one of MTV’s Brand New for 2014 nominees. And in this exclusive chat with MTV UK, the Run singer sat down with us to talk beatboxing, producing and Seal singing him Happy Birthday.
“Amazing. I appreciate it. It’s wicked,” Joel says of his MTV Brand New nomination before gushing about his fellow nominees: “I love Kwabs’ stuff. Kwabs is sick. Everyone on the list is sick!”
Like some of his fellow nominees, Joel started out by recording music alone in his bedroom. “My earliest memory of music is, I got a stereo and it had a little mike on it that you could record into on a tape,” he recalled.
“I used to drum about all the time on this desk and it sounded amazing recording into this tape machine. I used to drum to Sisqo,” he laughs. “Always Sisqo!”
He also used to beatbox and, after winning a London tournament, considered making a go of it professionally. “That’s when I was like, oh man, I could do this as a career.”
Ultimately, however, Joel had a decision to make. “It’s not unrealistic to be a beatboxer and have a career but… it’s hard,” he explains. “And I also loved music.”
Instead, Compass moved into producing, starting with a busker’s CD he got on the London Underground: “That was the first time I’d ever had a vocal on anything I’ve ever done.”
His singing career kicked off when, having mixed one of his own tracks, he went to add a vocal but: “Couldn’t find anyone [to so it]. So I tried it myself and got a sound off of it.” Soon after he was scouted by a record label and hasn’t looked back since.
Joel describes his sound as: “Pink Floyd meets R&B slash electronic music. I like to say it’s experimental R&B.”
His debut single, Run, is about a relationship but not an obvious one. “A lot of people might think it’s about a girl,” Joel revealed. “But it’s about my dad. About the father-son relationship that I didn’t really have growing up.”
The 21-year old has already collaborated with Pusha-T - an experience he described as “a dream collaboration, I couldn’t even believe it” – and hopes to crack America.
He’s already experienced the bright lights of LA, celebrating his 21st birthday at Hollywood’s infamous Chateau Marmont nightspot where he bumped into Seal.
Recalling the experience, Joel said: “I always see people [getting birthday cakes] and it looks really awkward when their cake’s coming to the table and everyone’s singing Happy Birthday, ‘cause it’s slightly hesitant.”
But not at Joel’s celebration: “Seal just went for it and then everyone was singing,” he remembers with a smile.
“I definitely want to be over there at some point and start working over there,” he admits. “But, for the meantime, I wanna be here. I love London.”
Brand New For 2014 is presented by Emporio Armani Diamonds.