With a love of the organic moments and imperfections – be they lo-fi sonic tics or deeply relatable lyrics – that make music sound its most human, Cork-born, London-based Jossle is a bedroom auteur in the truest sense of the term. Prioritising live instruments and fusing an obsession with the alternative world’s more characterful songwriter-producers (think Alex G, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Bon Iver) into his burgeoning canon of indie-folk-rock, it’s this mix of experimentalism, personality and honesty that’s fuelling Jossle’s work as he moves into debut EP ‘Nested’.
“I want people to feel like I’m sitting next to them when they listen to these songs; I don’t want you to hear these layers and walls of production and mixing. I want it to be relatively raw and for the sounds to be very organic,” he explains. “When I listen to an Alex G song, I feel like it’s real and it’s not hidden behind these layers. You feel that tug because you can hear all the little inconsistencies in the guitar – the fret buzz or the flutters of sound that hit your ear where it’s probably not meant to be there but I love that they left it in.”
Jossle’s – real name Joshua O’Leary – pull towards the more authentic, untreated joys of music almost certainly harks back to the two main prongs in his sonic education. On one hand, hailing from the small coastal town of Kinsale before moving to Galway for college, he’s been a lover of traditional Irish music since a young age. “I used to play the concertina and the banjo before I landed on guitar eventually – the safe one! – but I listen to trad most days,” he explains. ”It for sure has influences in my music now, especially the timing of a lot of trad music which I like to introduce quite often.”
On the other, he cites a game-changing canal boat holiday with his brother at age 15 where, stuck on the water for two weeks with no signal, they had only Bon Iver’s ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ and alt-J’s ‘An Awesome Wave’ to play on repeat, as the moment that something clicked. “Even when I came back, that was all I listened to. That Bon Iver album is the crux of why I do this because it gripped me so much; it changed the way I viewed music,” he smiles.
An early college band, Rodney, which fused indie and trad influences into a magnetic hybrid that gained them a reasonable patch of notoriety around Galway (“We used to have an accordion playing guitar solos,” Josh notes) began sowing the seeds of his love of songwriting. But it was only when lockdown struck and the group disbanded, that – stuck at home with only himself and some rudimentary recording equipment – the sonic identity of Josh and Jossle would start to really come to the fore.
Studying marine biology at the time, with no real designs on becoming a professional musician, it’s this perfect combination of genuine passion, a lack of careerist thought, and a slightly more unusual musical background that has made Jossle’s output ring with authenticity from the off. Though early 2021 single ‘Garden Couch’ traded on far more synthbased sounds than his current work, it still rings with the excitement of someone making music for the joy of experimenting and trying all the toys in their toybox; the following year’s ‘Nightpool’ found him bringing the folk elements to the fore, while ‘Barely Wear Shoes’ nudged up closer to the present, with breezy nods to Still Woozy