Over the past decade, Joho has emerged as a purposefully understated but no less commanding singer and producer in a variety of genres. Whether making layered, party-ready grooves or sultry, subterranean hip-hop and neo-soul, the Houston artist’s music has an unhurried, intimate appeal to it. Joho’s hushed voice can bend into a gossamer falsetto or a no-nonsense flow depending on his mood, bringing a deft, preternaturally cool touch to swaggering earworms.
Joel Holmes is a solo musical project from Houston who goes by the name Joho. He is a versatile, multi-talented artist whose music transcends the borders of genres and immerses his listeners into an ever-changing sonic universe. His releases are constantly diverse and makes it exciting to the listener. If it’s the same kind of music every time, after a point you know what to expect. That’s not the case with Joel Holmes, his releases are like some kind of easter eggs. You’ll never know what you get until you hit the play button! A versatile artist that spans multiple genres and is still relevant.
‘Just be honest’ is a pop anthem of this century that has the right number of earworms and the right amount of R&B to make it a versatile yet catchy song. The vocals are the highlight with Joel singing and rapping through the song showing us all that he’s capable of. A showcase of his talents as a singer, rapper, songwriter and producer. Beautiful mix with the percussions a little far behind but interestingly a nice touch. Usually, the percussions and the bass slaps you in the face but Joel has left it in the back this time, just adding a layer but not giving it importance.
Joho is an artist that you must keep your eyes on as he is on the road to becoming one of the greatest pop stars of this generation. We wanted to get to know Joho better and let all of you in on some things that influence his music and how he regards the industry.
1. What genre would you say your music can be classified under?
If I had to give an answer, I would say Pop. I view and refer to myself as a Popstar. Not to sound too pretentious, but I believe genre classification is a dated concept. I make music that spans many genres and sometimes blends genres to try and create new sounds. I don’t think art should be marginalized into one space. There’s no limitation on what you can create so the more genres, the merrier. I just try to not do the same thing time and time again. Reinvention is the key to longevity.
2. What is the story behind ‘Just be honest’?
I spent 2021 making everything but rap music. From my folk EP, to my Pop Singles, to the disco and alternative rock albums, I purposely avoided making predominantly hip-hop projects. This was not only to showcase other sounds in my repertoire, but to also make sure that when I returned to rapping the songs would hit harder. The lyrics to Just Be Honest started off two years ago when a producer sent me some beats to work on. I recorded a 5 minute freestyle over it and part of that was repurposed as the hook for my 2020 song “Kombucha” from “Space City Serenade”. As I began work on the new album I knew I not only wanted to rap, but to explore a new sound I haven’t done yet. I started working on the beat and the bassline reminded me of the song “1901” by Phoenix. I decided to interpolate that song and it still wasn’t hitting the way I wanted it to. Only once I added the beat change to the drill section did I finally feel like there was a potential hit. Lyrically, I wanted to use a few different perspectives like on Kendrick Lamar’s song “Fear”. So I made the first verse about honesty with a partner in a relationship that’s going south. The second verse is honesty with the music industry and kinda me saying that I’m rebelling against the notion that I have to fit into a bubble. It’s my version of saying “I know I’m the shit. If you can’t see that then I don’t need you.” The final verse is about being honest with myself and being self aware of my flaws and making a cognizant effort to fix them.
3. Is your music influenced by your surroundings and upbringing? Give us a little more insight into what got you into making music and how it defined your style?
I’m influenced by everything. Honestly, there isn’t anything I see or hear that I don’t take some form of inspiration from. I began writing songs when I was really young and took some time to refine that skill over time, but I haven’t really focused on it until the past 3 years really. But I’m kind of a sponge of all things music and pop culture. I listen to just about anything no matter the genre or era that it came out in and try to find ways to make it my own. That leads to the great variety in my songs. Listening to the album “Odyssey and Oracle” by the Zombies led me to making my 2021 song “Home From Therapy”, meanwhile a song like “Just Be Honest” is greatly influenced by Fivio Foreign and Pop Smoke. My style is ever evolving so I wouldn’t even say it’s been fully defined yet, but I take a lot of pride in my versatility and that’s a direct result of having so many influences.
4. They say that you are the next great ‘American Popstar’! How does that make you feel? As in do you let it get to your head, or use it as a driving force to motivate yourself?
I’m the one who started that off as an affirmation to help me achieve my goals. I’m a firm believer that nothing can get to my head. I think I’ve maxed out the self-confidence scale and couldn’t possibly think any higher of myself haha. With that being said I’m my own biggest critic and refuse to ever settle or grow complacent. I’m never satisfied with anything and that chip on my shoulder can tend to annoy people that I’m close to or work with, however, I think it brings the best out of our work. There are so many things I have yet to achieve, and so much that I have yet to give to the world so I don’t see myself losing motivation any time soon.
5. What significance does music have in your life? What advice can you give the next generation?
Music is more important to me than just about anything. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t spend an unreal amount of time making or listening to music. To the next generation of creators, my advice would be to truly love what you do. When you’re making music just for the sake of it and not because you truly love doing it, people can hear the insincerity. Also don’t be afraid to take risks or put yourselves out there. Most of the people whose opinions or judgement you fear couldn’t hold a candle to the things you’ve created. Release that song you’ve been sitting on for years, go perform at that open mic night. I know my first releases aren’t as strong as my most recent ones, but without releasing them I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. Take that chance.
6. Music has become a career choice or you could call it a job. Once it becomes a job, do you come to dread it at times? As in, do deadlines and the fact that now people are depending on your music change how you approach it?
There are aspects of monetizing your creativity that are taxing. Sometimes you just want to make your songs and release them to the world, but in order for the world to hear them, there’s levels or marketing and promotion that aren’t what you signed up for, but all in all, it helps you achieve the notoriety you seek. I’d love not having to make Tik Toks, but my audience and network have grown from it so beggars can’t be choosers.
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