Australia, meet Josef Salvat.
Already well established and loved internationally, Josef – a Sydney via London singer-songwriter – is now poised to permeate the local scene, with the release of his debut Australian EP In Your Prime.
A self-confessed perfectionist, Josef’s music immediately struck a chord with listeners abroad when he released the songs ‘This Life’, ‘Hustler’ and ‘Every Night’. Quietly posting the tracks online, he collected influential fans without even trying. Discerning tastemakers like Pitchfork, The Fader, Disco Naivete and The Sunday Times began to sing his praises, as did specialist radio gurus from Radio 1, 6 Music and XFM. ‘Hustler’ hit #1 on the Hype Machine Chart, ‘This Life’ #2 and ‘Every Night’ #4.
Coupled with Josef’s newest singles ‘Shoot & Run’ and ‘Open Season’, ‘This Life’ and ‘Every Night’ make up his stunning debut EP In Your Prime. The aforementioned ‘Open Season’ has taken on a life of its own online, championed by the crème de la crème of the blogosphere and hitting the #1 spot on Hype Machine’s Most Popular Chart, not once or twice, but a phenomenal three times.
Small symphonies of late-night electro-soul, with lyrics that address love, lust, obsession and betrayal, the songs on In Your Prime seem to occupy their own space, infused by a sort of nocturnal shadow world, where love is a game in which there are few winners. Musically, moments of extraordinary lushness emerge out of sparse, bare-bones verses that give no hint of the drama to come. Black-as-night subject matter coexists with effervescent pop melodies, and the combination, the duality, is compelling. “I do think that restraint is underrated in pop,” Josef says. “And my natural tendency is to go over the top, every time. So that’s another battle. Which I clearly enjoy, I guess.”
Josef’s musical background may explain some of that otherness. As a child, he listened to barely any pop music at all, immersing himself instead in classical music. “For the first 10 years of my life,” he says, “the only non-classical music I had heard was The Art of Noise, a Bruce Springsteen greatest hits album, plus Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, and London-based Australian band called Big Pig. Later on, I added Coldplay, the Spice Girls and Aqua. But other than that, it was only classical music. I had a really bizarre mother, who would take her 18-month-old child to Sydney Opera House. That’s how she introduced me to culture.”
There were further, unconventional route stops on Josef’s journey to the music he is making now. Having turned his back on the classical world, he studied law, completing the final year of his degree course in Barcelona, where he also did an audio engineering course.
Josef has spent much of the past 18 months working with the producer Rich Cooper, whom he was introduced to by his manager. Before settling in London, he commuted between Spain and the UK, working with Rich in the latter, completing his degree back in Barcelona.
Josef has toured with an array of like-minded artists including fellow Australians The Jezabels. Soon, he will support Banks on her tour of the UK. In further testament to his rising star, both Sia and The Preatures have sung his praises, and his pals from The Temper Trap have just remixed ‘Every Night’, adding to it their own special touch. His debut album, which will be released next year, is almost complete.
But for now, there’s In Your Prime to absorb. This is music of profound honesty, complexity and originality. “I’ve always tried to make good pop music, interesting music that I like. But I’m very aware at the moment that you have to keep focusing on the art. The reason I make this type of music,” he says, in parting, “is because I like it. It’s that simple. Compared to other things in my life, music is something I don’t have to think about very much, because it’s instinctive, and relatively instant. And when I’m actually making it, I don’t care; I just want to do what I do.”