Interview: Josie Man on Love and Authenticity

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Photo by Frank Fieber

For 21-year-old Orpington via Catford and Hong Kong alt-pop up-and-comer Josie Man everything comes back to love. According to Josie, she’s obsessed with love, “It's just something that I try and appreciate every day,” she says.  Released last month, her debut EP aLOVINGboothang explores the various forms of love within Josie’s life — whether it’s the admiration she has for her parents, love for her boyfriend, or arguably her most important relationship, herself.

The zest Josie has for life and love isn’t only something that beams in her music, but also shines through in the way she talks about music.

“Music is literally amazing, you could be the saddest thing and then when you listen to music, it just makes you feel so happy and full of life. Even when listening to music, it gives you an opportunity to just relax and release and cry or be happy or dance to it and it's such an incredible feeling.”

As is such the case for most humans on Earth, life can often come with challenges — but it’s what you do with those moments that matters most. Josie takes what she’s going through, whether it’s positive or negative, and puts them into words regularly. This isn’t always through music, but also in her diary and the art of writing. “I enjoy writing in a diary so I can put my emotions down on paper and see them.”

On the EP, it was important for her not to ignore the more challenging aspects of love and life and to instead embrace as well as celebrate them. “I didn't want it to be like, oh, ‘I've got this perfect life and I've got a boyfriend’ and blah, blah, blah. I wanted it to be like, you can maybe appreciate your family, maybe you feel that you could do something more, or even appreciate your own health.”

For instance, her most recent single ‘Baby Pink & Blue’ sees Josie reflect on wanting to be fully invested in a relationship when simultaneously craving independence — in the track’s lyrics she poses the big question, “Can you be in love and still be free?” For Josie, love will always prevail, “I just think it's really important that you love often because it's a really beautiful thing. It's such a special feeling to be able to love.”

Along with leaving you warm and fuzzy with romantic songs like ‘Baby Pink & Blue’ and ‘Uncomfortable’, she also uses the EP to explore self-love — which is something that can often be neglected in the pursuit of other forms of love.

Her empowering opener ‘Colours’ sweetly shuts down the hate and negativity that she’s endured growing up. She sings the words, “You put me in a glass box so I can see you laughing / You just attack me cause you don't understand me.”

Over the last few years, she’s learnt that it’s important for her own wellbeing to stand up for herself and not let anyone dictate the way she wants to live her life, “It is your life at the end of the day and it wouldn't be fair if you have someone telling you how to be. I've got quite a strong will, it's not in a mean way, but I would hate for someone to tell me how to act or be, so I stick by that.”

Sonically, her music is an extension of herself and her identity,  “I really want my music to be complete with myself and not have anyone try and tell me how to sing or think.” She adds, “It sounds the way I look if that makes sense? It's just completely true to myself.” Music is also the ultimate form of self-expression for Josie, “I feel you can literally go wherever you want with music and I'd like to think that no one can tell you how to sing or be.”

In-between her glowing and vivacious slices of alt-pop is her moving number ‘Josie’s Interlude’, which she originally wrote when she was a teenager. The tender song is about questioning life and whether she was ready for love.

“If something goes wrong, you automatically think, oh this is my fault. What have I done? But then it just made me realise that I'm not ready for this and I just need some time for myself and it's so true. If you don't love yourself, you can't let someone else love you. So it was kind of like, I need to be ready for myself first.”

The most important thing for Josie is to use her music as a positive platform to promote love, acceptance and kindness — not only for herself but to hopefully make the world a little brighter too. “I want to spread the message to be kinder and that we need to be more loving, because the world really, needs it right now. That’s the main message I live by every day.”

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

Listen to aLOVINGboothang by Josie Man below:

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