Gallatin sophomore Augustine “Allah” Joseph blends together an eclectic set of musical inspirations with a transcendent understanding of modern society and adulthood in his latest work. After releasing his single “FWU” and hosting his own event at Webster Hall last weekend, Joseph sat down with WSN to discuss his roots, his insights and, of course, his music.
WSN: What got you started on turning music into your primary focus?
Allah Joseph: I’ve been into music really all of my life. I grew up in a musical family in Boston — my older sister is a singer and pianist. I started taking music seriously eight years ago when I used to publish stuff on YouTube, but I really started to develop my own concepts for my art direction about six years ago. I went through a lot of different life experiences that matured my thoughts. NYU has been great because it’s really helping me understand now who I am as an artist and who I am to society. I don’t want to sound narcissistic at all because it’s really coming from a place of love and a place of understanding who I am, but I think my perspective sets my music apart from the rest. I see the beauty in it all. I don’t take sides. I’m a Red Sox Fan and a Yankees fan. You see, it’s a perspective of inclusion and an understanding of who I am.
WSN: Being at NYU, do you feel like the school’s PC culture has affected your writing?
AJ: I don’t think being PC — in my opinion — is necessary in art because art is a paradox world. It’s a safe space to talk about everything and have your opinion regardless of who you are. I feel like that’s a fundamental thing of being a scholar and being an American: being able to say what you think. Being able to have conversations as opposed to angry disputes is what makes us intelligent. If I’m writing something academic, then I’ll probably be more conscious of what I write, but if I’m putting together a record, it’s more about expressing the moment rather than sugarcoating what I’m seeing.
WSN: Who would you say are your most inspirational musical idols?
AJ: I love the Beatles. They’re amazing as far as composition goes, being able to put together so many different aspects of musical mode and feeling. Metallica — I love their instrumental stuff. Jimi Hendrix — amazing! You could argue that some of his sounds are techno: distortion, reverb — before reverb even existed, bro — echoes, sound manipulation. There’s a solo where Hendrix makes his guitar sound like a falling airplane from the war in Vietnam. There wasn’t anyone who was recreating sound the way he was before him on that level.
WSN: With “FWU” out last week, do you have any plans for live shows to promote your new music?
AJ: I just hosted a show — “Rendevou” — at Webster Hall. The whole idea of the event was to give young college students who are dope a platform to show the world who they are. I wanted to pull together all these different artists, intellectuals from our school and some people from the industry so we could mix, network and also just have fun at the same time. I got to perform two of my records — “Christian Dior” and “FWU” — and it was an amazing moment with the energy up 1,000 percent. I’ll be back at it for sure when my new record drops in 2017.
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