Do you know moments at the odd hour of the night when your thoughts form an ocean in your head? And their roaring tides make it impossible to fall back asleep. Clawing At The Back Of Your Eyes by Joyful Forfeit explores that experience. The debut single is a luminous post-rock exhibition with a romantic flair. With inky melodies, evocative vocals, and affecting riffs, the track is visceral and immersive.
The track is delightfully fresh with bursting euphonies. With reviving sound pallets and potent textures, the artist makes sure to pack it with a liveliness. He juxtaposes glistening acoustics with the mesmerizing glow of the electric guitar melodies. And adding lilting falsettos to the mix, he irrevocably elevates the effect of the soundscape.
Joyful Forfeit is the musical moniker for the solo project of singer-songwriter Kody Stieve. The artist chases the evasive nuances of the human condition. Using confessional lyrics and high emotion soundscapes, he validates the existential melancholy that floats in our minds. The artist is working on his debut EP that is all set to release in the Spring of 2023. So gear up for more of this high quality indie/soul rock.
Congratulations on your debut single! The song is an affecting mosaic of multi-genre elements. How did you find your sound and style? And what do you want your listeners to take away from it?
Thanks! It’s an incredible feeling to finally have music available for people to listen to. I’ve had a lot of amazing support leading up to the release and even more support now that the music is out, so I can’t emphasize how grateful I am. I played a lot of post-rock when I was younger, so naturally a lot of the guitar tones that I gravitate towards today are very much in line with that style of music.
With this project I wanted to create more condensed versions of those songs and add elements of conventional songwriting, to make them a little more accessible to someone who might not be willing to tackle a 9-minute post-rock composition. I like the idea of giving people the autonomy to take what they want or need from a song, so once I release a track to the public, it isn’t really mine anymore and the listener gets to decide how the music fits into their life.
Your moniker Joyful Forfeit inspires immediate interest and interpretation. Please tell us about your version of it and why you chose it as your stage name.
The idea of forfeiting is a complicated blend of emotions. I’ve certainly had my fair share of being overinvested in certain facets of my life, whether that be romance, careers, or personal endeavors, so walking away from those can be extremely difficult, due to feeling like I’ve wasted the time and effort I put into it. However, in some instances, that sensation of walking away has a liberating aspect to it.
When I decided to pursue this project I was very much in that whirlpool of emotional uncertainty and, eventually, I came to the decision that I had a positive motive at the time and that needed to be celebrated. While the upsetting feature of giving up was certainly still inside me, it seemed like perseverating on that part wasn’t going to get me where I was looking to go.
The song is seemingly personal and autobiographical. It’s apparent in the lyricism and the emotional depth of the soundscape. Can you tell us a little about the event or emotion that inspired the songwriting process?
Over the past several years I’ve developed migraines, where I have difficulty with my field of vision, thought processing, and overall discomfort for periods of time. Much of that discomfort is in my eyes, where they feel extremely heavy, or painful and that they’ll just fall out of my face.
Much of my writing in the past has been strictly about love or anxiety/depression, so I decided with this project I wanted to try and write about more specific issues in my life that people might resonate with. This song touches on both my experience with migraines, as well as the experience of some of my loved ones who also suffer from them.
Who are the artists you listened to growing up and look up to as a musician? What about them influenced your art and sound?
I grew up listening to a serious amount of post-rock and shoegaze, so a lot of the large bands that defined that sound like Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor had a big influence on the types of sounds I connected with and felt conveyed the emotional messages I would try to create.
Bands like Death Cab For Cutie, Alvvays, Empire! Empire!, and Pianos Become The Teeth were great sources of inspiration as well, since they are able to utilize familiar song patterns, but can also turn those same songs upside down and create expansive and chest-crushing moments.
It seems like, as the days go by, I am finding myself more sure of where I want to take the sound of Joyful Forfeit and that’s pretty exhilarating. At the beginning there are so many options, that trying to find a solid base to build from, while maintaining artistic authenticity, can be a difficult maze to navigate through.
What can we look forward to, in the nature of music releases, projects, and collaborations, in 2023?
I intended to come out of the gate swinging once the first single dropped, so 2023 should have a lot of great highlights. I was fortunate enough to begin the project by recording 4 songs for an EP with Tom Conran of True Level Studio and Matt Weber of Gradwell House in the fall of last year, so I’m looking to begin releasing news about that in the next month or so.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to have some incredible friends who are willing to help me perform the project live as a full band. That part of this project has been very interesting, as I’m used to the traditional writing process as a band, instead of writing entire songs and bringing them to the band, which has felt a bit bizarre. It’ll be fun figuring out what works and what doesn’t work live, but I know I can count on them to impart their own personal flair into making the shows unique to their musical identities.
The track is available on Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, and Apple Music!
You can listen to Clawing At The Back Of Your Eyes by Joyful Forfeit here-