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Now these people are interesting. Performing and recording as Joy X Libeau they are Hideto Kobayashi (aka Joy) and Natalie Joselen out of Christchurch. Their smart and highly melodic trip-hop debut album with nu-soul influences is No Rules for Ghosts and here at Elsewhere we warmed to it immediately because it is sophisticated, cinematic in places and evidence of what can be achieved by just two people in a home studio.

And Natalie can really sing.

Time for them to answer some highly personal questions so we can better understand where they are coming from . . . and going to.

We begin with Hideto/Joy.


Where did you grow up, and with who? 

I grew up in Osaka, Japan. Mainly with my mother and great grandfather. Father was too busy working. He would come home at 2AM and leave for work by 6AM those weekdays

Was music an important part of your childhood?

Not really until my high school age (12th grade). I was focusing more in training in baseball to be a professional baseball player.  I was forcefully trained left handed by my father to take advantage in baseball. My position was the pitcher or first baseman.

When you started on your music career were people around you supportive or did you have to find those people?

My love for music began while I was in high school. To make it as a career, I needed to moved to Tokyo. Up until then music was a hobby, people were supportive but when it comes to a "career" I needed to leave Osaka after high school. Historically I was the first person not to go to university in that high school. 

The first song of yours which you really felt proud of was . . .? And why that one? 

I wasn't really a singer-songwriter, more of bass guitarist and producer. but one song that I wrote that I'm proud of is "the barefeet midnight dancer" because this song really represents crossover memory of the end of my baseball era and beginning of music career. I did go to vocal training class for this song in particular. But really its melody sounded like a rip off from the band Poison's song "Until You Suffer Some" from the album Native Tongue in '93 

Any one person you'd call a mentor, angel on your shoulder or invaluable fellow traveller?

Jesus and Holy Spirits

Any piece of advice you were given which you look back on which really meant something?

Octopus_with_tagBe grateful for any given situation/s and to find joy in it.

And finally, where to from here for you do you think?

It took me years but I finally realized how to freely write tunes without grid by grid bases recently.

This realization opened up a lot of possibilities for my duo project as well as my solo instrumental project. So, here we really are only standing behind the first baseman, we've got several more bases to cover before we come home.


And now Natalie


What are your earliest childhood memories of music which really affected you . . . 

I grew up in a fervently religious household, the praise and worship songs were pretty intense. I don’t share that belief system now, but no doubt it has shown me how you can connect powerfully through music, especially when you get out of your own way, be present and let it flow.


Was there a time when you felt it was going to be music and nothing else?

I think Portishead live at Roseland NYC. 1998. Watching that (on tv I guess?) I felt the strongest pull to write music.  I wanted to sit melody eerily over chords and pull it all back in tune, and to deliver characters like Beth Gibbons, I wanted to write cross-genre music.

The first song of yours which you really felt proud of was . . .? And why that one? 

Screen_Shot_2022_07_11_at_4.32.00_PMJoy will have a different answer to me… I loved writing ‘In the Third Hour’ (November 2020), it’s unusual for me to sing so lightly for a whole song, it’s sung in a whisper, because it was 3am…

‘I wake to find you

Attuned to every noise you make

And even though you look at me some days

Like I’m breaking your heart’

-and I drop the the melody really low on the word ‘heart’. It’s a beautiful moment to me.

Where and when was the first time you went on stage as a paid performer?

It would’ve been at the Dux de Lux way back, circa 1998, what an iconic place that was. Back before anyone started checking IDs. It was such a great scene. 

Ever had stage fright or just a serious failure of nerve before going on stage?

For sure, there’s been times in my life where I was nervous to the point that the nerves in my teeth would throb. Every tooth. I didn’t know how to meditate back then, I’ve since done a lot of self-hypnosis around performance, which I totally recommend if anyone else is in the same boat.

As a songwriter, do you carry a notebook or have a phone right there constantly to grab ideas they come? Or is your method something different?

I’m always writing down snippets, concepts for lyrics, one liners or things that have moved me. I have a lyric book by my bed, I take my phone to the bathroom, quite often I’ll get a really good hook for a melody in the shower. I have a dream journal.

I gather tidbits of inspiration day to day, so that I have things to draw from when needed.

What is your method for making music?

Joy sends me a tune he’s working on. I record a draft vocal melody on my first listen. I want to see what’s organic. 

Usually my first listen is on a Thursday - when I turn up to do a live recording of the song on that weekend, Joy doesn’t know what I’m going to sing. We set up lights and cameras, record to the sound desk, and upload the video to our social media all on the same day. 

I’ve never worked that way before, it’s a very refreshing work flow. People see/hear a live song that didn’t fully exist at the start of the week.

What unfashionable album do you love as a guilty pleasure?

For some reason I get the side eye for Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust. I’m not embarrassed though, it’s superb.

Is there any fellow artist you admire for professional and/or personal reasons? 

Kimbra for me, she’s always pushing the envelope, interesting vocals and instrumentation. I got into music production because I saw she was doing it. Got me using Ableton and thinking about what I could create on my own, a lot of growth came from that. 


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