Emerging singer-songwriter Jo-B Sebastian talks about his new single “Heartbeat”
Emerging electro-R&B/soul singer-songwriter Jo-B Sebastian has announced the release of his brand new single “Heartbeat.” Written by Jo-B and produced by Raphael Bussy, “Heartbeat” takes a deep dive into longing, heartbreak, and resentment. The dark brooding vibe provides the perfect atmosphere for Jo-B’s understated but intricate vocal performance. “Heartbeat” is available on all major digital music outlets including Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, Tidal, Amazon, and Pandora.
We are sharing our recent interview with the artist.
First of all tell us about the start of your professional career?
I’ve been singing since I was a kid and I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a musician. I got my first proper start when a musician friend of my mother’s offered to let me open for her at a small Jazz club in Manila. That reignited my passion for music and performing and I couldn’t get enough. Soon I was playing all over Manila, securing residencies at the city’s top clubs and lounges. Eventually, I was approached by two major record labels who both posed the question: What kind of music do you want to release? I was stumped, until that point I was performing covers, singing other composers’ words and melodies, but I always felt that I wanted to be making music, not just performing it, but I had no idea what I wanted to do when faced with the opportunity to release my own material. A scholarship at one of the top Jazz conservatories in New York convinced me to go back to basics and earn a proper education in music. Strengthening my foundations, I also found my voice as a songwriter and producer, and a new passion for composition.
Who or what inspired you to get into music industry?
My grandfather was a concert violinist and conductor, so growing up I was constantly immersed in music. From a very young age I was encouraged to explore music, I learned how to sing by listening to my parents’ record collection, receiving an informal education from the R&B and Soul greats. Both of these elements strongly fostered a desire to become a musician, but in 1996, I watched a VHS tape copy of Janet Jackson’s Design of a Decade compilation. I was sold, seeing Janet’s music come to life on screen and witnessing the behind-the-scenes documentary cemented my dream of becoming a singer and songwriter, I wanted to be out there making a living from something I love, just like Janet.
Tell us about your recent release “Heartbeat”?
I wrote Heartbeat when I was going through a particularly bad breakup. I struggled at first, when I sat down with the intent of putting my heartbreak in to words. I wasn’t vibing with the typical tropes of sadness and longing. I found myself wandering into the darker side of breaking up, the obsessive, paranoid, almost vengeful side. Once I figured out where I was mentally, the words came pouring out. Instead of lamenting a love lost I started questioning whether it even existed to begin with, whether I was the only one who was hurting, that doubt and frustration fuelled the song’s darker lyrics and haunting production.
What kind of response have you received from the release?
I was a little nervous when I released this song, I wasn’t sure if people would resonate with it as much as my previous singles, especially since I feel this song is a lot more understated in comparison to my past releases. But I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of love for this song, especially when I perform the song live. I’ve had quite a few people come up to me after a show to tell me how much they loved Heartbeat, that the lyrics resonated with them. I think this is the biggest compliment I can get as a songwriter, knowing that someone has connected with my music is all the praise I need.
What attracts you more, performing on stage or working in studios?
This is a tough one because I feel that recording and performing are two sides of the same coin. I love being in the studio, I love being able to lay down my ideas and actualise the things I hear in my head. There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing the seeds of melodic ideas and lyrics blossom into a full song and I love being able to let my imagination run wild. I’m a perfectionist and I love all the intricacies of music production, from layering my vocals, to finding the perfect synth, I can get lost weaving a sonic tapestry. But at the same time there is no bigger thrill than performing my music live on stage. The energy of the audience, the energy of my band… they bring my words and melodies to life. It’s a high that no drug can recreate, the biggest rush, that comes with the purest feeling of fulfilment. I think in the end I have to give it to performing, the recording process is the means to an end, the end goal being getting up on that stage and singing my heart out.
What’s your favorite music genre?
I honestly listen to so many different genres of music, I find that I get tired of a specific genre easily, and flit between favourites constantly. I love anything that has a good groove to it, if it makes me want to move or if it can tug a heartstring, I’m all for it. I have a soft spot for Jazz, and Pop (particularly the pop music of the 70s, 80s, and 90s) but my first loves, the genres that I rarely get tired of, are R&B and Soul. They are home base for me, I find my foundation in them, they offer both comfort and inspiration for everything I do.
Have you set some target to achieve as a music artist?
I think we all have those grandiose, larger-than-life dreams we set for ourselves when we embark on a career path. I’d love to win a Grammy, or any major award to prove to myself that I’ve made it, I’ve always dreamed of playing Madison Square Garden, I consider it a life goal to collaborate with my idols and the major artists I look up to, I have all these dreams that I don’t count out, I like to think these are all achievable dreams. After all, someone’s got to dream big, why not me? In the grander scheme of things, though, I think my two main goals as an artist would be to find and grow an audience that can share in my love for music and performing, and, more importantly, to continue to hone my craft and keep myself open to learning, because I think the beauty of music is that we’re never at our peak, there’s always more to learn, facets to explore.
Are you currently working on any other project?
I’m currently working on a collaboration with my good friend, and incredibly talented producer, Phuse, which we’re shooting to hopefully release sometime in the next year. Phuse and I recently released a collaborative single together, Breathe Again, which was very well received. Working with him has been amazing, we see eye to eye on a lot of things and share a very similar taste in music, with enough differences to keep it fresh between the two of us. I feel like it’s not every day I come across a producer whose music not only inspires me but hits on all of the core emotions and meets the aesthetic standard I look for in a good song. We loved working together so we decided to keep going and I’m so excited to share what we’ve been working on with all of you, so stay tuned!