They got 99 problems, but making music ain’t one.
After meeting during a boogie-boarding contest in Ocean City, NJ hosted by Jay-Z, Joy Again was destined for great things.
Quick caveat: This epic origin story could be fake news. We weren’t able to find any record of Hova hosting a boogie boarding contest or even setting foot in Ocean City. But who wouldn’t want to be brought together by Jay-Z and water sports? It’s a great story and I choose to believe it.
Joy Again is an indie rock band that blossomed in the brotherly city of Philadelphia (coincidentally where Jay-Z throws his music festival Made In America every year). Comprised of Sachi DiSerafino (guitar/vocals), Arthur Shea (guitar/vocals), Blaise O’Brien (bass), Tyndall (keyboard) and Will Butera (drums), they’re catchy and angsty all in one.
These Philly kids admit the city has undeniably affected their sound.
“We think a lot of [Philadelphian] musicians draw inspiration from each other, which leads to there being a definable ‘Philly sound,’” the band tells BTRtoday via email. “We think maybe the greatest part is that even if we tried to only draw inspiration from artists from elsewhere, the [Philly] sounds that were pushed into our brains for so long will always make their way into the music we make.”
Philadelphia’s music scene tends to be brewed within a basement’s concrete walls. Shows under houses that have earned names like “The Maggot House” or “The Rathaus” have birthed a combined sound of punk, art and indie music that we’ll call garage pop.
Joy Again has not strayed away from their roots; in fact, their sound embraces it.
They switch from fast punk to catchy pop and layer computer effects and distortion over the fast-moving sounds. They convey their pent-up aggression and frustration with fun melodies—catapulting garage rock back into the prominence it deserves.
Recently, the group premiered two new singles, “Kim” and “On A Farm,” which they perform in a double feature music video. “Kim” is loose and melodic—one of those special songs you can just listen to over and over again. However, there are also emotional undertones providing an edge to the song. The lyrics go “Kim, fucking kill me once again” and later, “you will find me all the time, I’m lonely” all sung to a catchy up beat melody.
Check out the full interview with Joy Again below—they decided to keep their answers as a group response since they’re connected on a ~telepathic~ level.
BTRtoday (BTR): What part of Philly are you guys from?
Joy Again (JA): We’re all from the suburbs of Philly, but now we’re pretty spread out. Some of us are still in the suburbs and few are in West Philly, some in Brewerytown, some in South Philly—although one was born on the beach.
BTR: How did you meet?
JA: We met in a chat room we found on a pro longboarding forum. Before this, we had all met at a boogie boarding competition hosted by Jay-Z in Ocean City, NJ. We didn’t really talk much, but our minds definitely connected on a telepathic level.
BTR: Why the name Joy Again?
JA: We have an obsession with doing things more than once. So, often you can find us chanting things over and over, it’s really strange please don’t question it.
BTR: What kind of inspirations go into the lyrics and music?
JA: Usually the way our music sounds tends to be on accident. We’ve had conversations like, “oh we want our music to sound like this, we want it to sound like that,” although usually when we try to do that it ends up sounding probably the complete opposite.
BTR: Did you always play this kind of catchy garage rock, or has your sound morphed at all since the beginning?
JA: We’ve always tried to make “pop” music in the purest sense, but we don’t think we want it to be able to be identified as “garage” anymore. After watching videos, reading, and listening to stories about how these huge pop stars record their perfect records in really unconventional ways (for example: Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, The Beach Boys’ Smile Sessions, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, etc.) it’s pretty inspiring to hear the weird shit you can do while it’s still technically “pop.”
BTR: How has the Philly scene influenced your music making?
JA: Philadelphia is such a small city in comparison to others like New York and L.A. A lot of the musicians here are in the same circle socially or musically regardless of clout. We think a lot of musicians draw inspiration from each other, which leads to there definitely being a definable “Philly sound.” we think maybe the greatest part is that even if we tried to only draw inspiration from artists from elsewhere, the sounds that were pushed into our brains for so long will always make their way into the music we make.
BTR: When I lived in Philly a few years ago, house shows were the big thing–is that still true? If so, how has that affected the band?
JA: House shows are definitely still big, although the bands that still play them are very different. It’s pretty cool to see young kids so influenced by local music that there are people who are like as young as 15 and playing at houses in the city. It’s also amazing to see a lot of older artists I’ve seen in basements move into a bigger scene like Alex G., Japanese Breakfast, etc. it’s also super cool to see artists like Kurt Vile, and The War On Drugs come back to Philly and play smaller shows, because regardless of fame they still support the city that raised them, ya know?
BTR: What are your live shows like?
JA: We’ve been trying to make it more dynamic by adding more sounds and instruments. Blaise and Sachi are addicted to buying pedals and that definitely lets us get real whacky. When we play we definitely try and be super interactive with each other, and express to the crowd that we’re having fun too.
BTR: Do you have a favorite song to play live?
JA: These two new songs we have that are still in the demo stages are our current favorites to play. The new singles are also super fun for us live. The older songs from the EP are songs we’ve been playing for three years or more at this point, but right now we’re working on making them more cohesive with the newer songs and switching the arrangements around a bit. Definitely still getting used to a live show even after almost four years, but we think right now we’re in our best spot and feel very comfortable doing it.
BTR: What should we be looking forward to in the future of Joy Again?
JA: Hopefully nothing predictable. We don’t really know what’s next, and we think it’s best that way because it allows us to experience the future for our music and our lives day by day. I’m sure we’ll figure something out and we hope we do soon.