We caught up singer-songwriter Joe Cleere to hear more about the inspiration behind his music, his latest single ‘Innocence’ and what we can expect from his Instagram takeover on the 25th June.
For those who don’t you know, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Joe Cleere. I’m from Ireland, not too far from Dublin. I’ve been a singer-songwriter for quite a while. I spend a lot of time in London and France. I love playing gigs and festivals. Actually I’ve got a lot of hobbies, everything from building furniture to making whiskey and barbecuing stuff. Most of all I love to spend my time making music.
Tell us about your musical background. How and when did you first get into music?
I first got into music as a child. I remember I loved listening to Oasis. When I was about 12 years old I started strawberry picking as a summer job – very rural of me I know! I saved up all the money I earned from that along with some pocket money and I bought my first electric guitar. That was a huge deal for me. I just loved playing guitar. In fact I started a Jimi Hendrix tribute band. I suppose I started off in classic rock and then naturally as time went by I got into a few different styles of music.
Who are your musical influences?
I have a wide range of influences. I love anything that connects emotionally or tells a story. For me music has to move you. Whether it’s emotionally, or by telling a story, or by moving you physically like if it’s got a really good beat to it. Anything in-between I think basically belongs in an elevator, haha. If it doesn’t move you in some sort of way, it feels pointless to me.
When I first started out in music my main influences were bands and artists like Radiohead, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young etc. I now also love more abstract stuff like Elbow and Arcade Fire. I have a huge love for singer-songwriters such as Damien Rice, Imagine Dragons, Tom Odell and Cinematic Orchestra, you get the trend.
What does your songwriting process look like? Do you draw on personal experiences for inspiration?
I absolutely draw on personal experiences. I suppose going back to the storytelling element, for me stories and characters are really important. Often I start with the music, for example chords on the piano or guitar and I’ll see what that music makes me feel. Then I try to picture the movie in my head. I ask myself questions like what’s the story, what characters are involved, what are they trying to convey etc. Often I build a movie microscopically. So I might focus on specific imagery or delve into the inner depths of a particular character.
We love your latest single ‘Innocence’. What’s the story/message behind the song?
‘Innocence’ is a good example of how I like to write songs. To give you a bit of background I’m a dad and I have two kids. Charlie, my eldest, is three and he actually features in the video for the song. The song is about being a parent and trying to protect your child from the weight of the world, but at the same time knowing that you can’t keep them away from seeing and hearing about bad things.
Your music video for ‘Innocence’ is beautiful. How involved were you in the creative process for this?
Thanks! In essence it was a trip to the beach just before lockdown. I filmed the whole thing on this small, nifty camera that I have. I was taking some shots of my son Charlie playing and enjoying the sunshine. He didn’t realise I was filming him so it was completely real and natural. I wasn’t that annoying dad making him do stuff to get a cool shot!
At home I edited the footage together and it suited the mood and lyrics of ‘Innocence’ perfectly. As a dad it’s lovely for me to have a video of him which captures a really nice point in time.
You featured on Sam Feldt’s track ‘Forgiveness’, how did this opportunity come about?
I think it was my second writing session with Tileyard. I was writing with Marli who also wrote ‘Innocence’. I was also working with Jon Kelly, he’s an amazing producer also based at Tileyard, he’s done a lot of Kate Bush records throughout the years. I just thought it was unreal for me to be in a room with these two amazingly talented people. It’s funny because we started writing this song called ‘Forgiveness’ about betrayal using the imagery of a children’s party in the background. It was very poetic! Sam Feldt just loved the track and thankfully he kept me on it as the artist as well! So it was basically a joint effort with Tileyard and all of us as writers.
You’ve released a few different singles as a solo artist. Can we expect an EP or album soon? If so, what would you hope to achieve through a larger body of work?
Good question! You are right, I’ve released quite a few singles but to be honest ‘Innocence’ is actually my first single as a solo artist. Everything else I’ve released is actually with a DJ. Going forward with my own songs I hope to achieve an emotional connection and create beautiful stories with organic, warms sounds and maybe some modern production in there too.
Any dream collaborations?
Lots! I would love to work with Paul Epworth. I grew up listening to the early Florence and the Machine albums. I just thought they were out of this world, it’s like they had landed down from space. But they still had that feeling of quality to them.
I’d love to work with Kodaline, Elbow or Chris Martin – I mean who wouldn’t want to work with Chris Martin? He’s a seriously talented guy.
I’d love to meet Tom York and have a chat about where he gets his ideas from. So basically yeah, loads of dream collaborations!
Imagine you were playing the middle slot in the gig of your dreams next week, who would you be supporting and who would be opening for you? Where would you be playing?
Well, I’m one of these guys that makes a vision board every couple of years. Consistently on my vision board has been playing the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. That’s the dream anyway.
The headliner would have to be Florence and the Machine. Serious quality, serious talent – the connection she has with her audience is always unreal.
Any exciting plans for the remainder of 2020?
Yes, absolutely! I’ll definitely have another single out this year so I’m looking forward to that. I want to play more gigs. Normally I would be on tour at some point in the year and play a few festivals, usually in France actually. But I don’t think that’s going to happen this year what with everything that’s going on in the world right now. The plan is to keep writing, keep producing new and interesting music. Also to be a good dad. Maybe do a bit more home renovation stuff. In the meantime I want to do some streaming gigs like this one coming up with Tileyard!
What artists are you listening to at the moment? Do you have a go-to playlist?
To be honest I listen to so much music I don’t think I could give you an actual list. I do have one on Spotify with a load of songs that are kind of similar to me. They are mostly heart-warming acoustic or more organic sounding artists – like Tom Odell or Lisa Hannigan.
What can we expect from your live performance on our Instagram on the 25th June?
Trapeze artists, fire breathers, people dancing on elephants. Haha, just kidding. If you’re tuning in on the 25th June, you should get to hear some really nice stories and heart-warming songs. Everything I do is real. There won’t be any tuning or miming. I might talk a violinist into joining me too. So yeah, tune in!
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