Troubadour From Another World - Interview With Joseph Arthur

Joseph Arthur paints lyrics and compose art

He’s a son of Akron, Ohio – when he grew up, he had to go.
He failed at sales yet is still acclaimed, because of tunes, poems and paints.
He was nominated for a Grammy, and established Lonely Astronauts Records.
His words don’t always rhyme.

Are words in your mind as poetic as they sound in your songs?
Sometimes it slips thru the cracks,
Sometimes words run like roaches out of the cracks of your mind looking for a light,
So that they can hope to one day be butterflies,
And betray all their brothers left looming in the dark.

Back in 2008, how did you manage to release four EPs and one album in six months?
I have so much music piled up,
Like strange animals in a cosmic cage begging for release.
The jails were overcrowded.
I had to let some of them go.

You've toured a lot these years, any good story you can share with us?
All the good stories I can't share or else I may be sued!
My life is a traveling one so that each day may unfold like a masterpiece

How did you get Lou Reed in the audience before you were signed to any label?
Dumb luck.

What was your life like in your hometown? What drove you away from there?
I grew up in Akron Ohio
Downtown was a ghost town
There the ghosts said dream!
And their teeth were made of melodies
And their flesh just fell like the truth
So I had to run
But I always come back
And they always know me when I come home

How many guitars did you sell at Clark Music Store?
I was the worst employee in the history of Clark Music,
Or so said the manager.
But when I left they said I could have my job back.
I never went back.
And now it's a pawn shop. The customers were there to ignore.
I had songs to write.

Among the six versions of your song "In The Sun" in the EP released for Hurricane Katrina, including R.E.M's Michael Stipe's and Coldplay's Chris Martin's, which one do you like the best? Why?
I like them all the best.
Whichever one is playing now
Is the one I like the best.
It's always an honor when someone covers your song
It's only then that I can really hear what they(the songs) are saying.

What situation would be good to listen to your music?
For me
I only listen when I am working on them
When they are done
I move on
But in general I like to listen to music when driving
The highway is the perfect atmosphere to reflect on music’s power

How many home demos did you make before you signed to a record label?
I made thousands
I started recording very young
Don't know where they are
In a drawer somewhere in my parents house probably

What was the last thing you have heard about China?
That it's amazing
All my friends are jealous that I get to go
It is evidence of a life lived right to support a trip such as this
I feel honored

Any idea how to make astronauts less lonely?
Get ’em in a room together and make them play some rock n roll!

If aliens ever come to Earth, who would they first make contact with?
First I made contact with my mother and took it from there.
The rest is just a dream.

How's your new album coming along?
It's done and mastered.
Early signs are quite good that people might like it.
One can only hope. You do your thing put it out and move on.
Artists and sharks are the same.

What can't we miss at your gig?
Your soul.

Some of his songs are available on

See him at Ephemerals' Festival Opening Night
European electro-rockers Stranded Horse opens the show. Experimental folk legend Xiao He improvises music for Zhang Yuedong’s film of ephemeral moments. And to wrap it all up, singer-songwriter-artist Joseph Arthur brings live music and live painting. RMB 130, RMB 120 (advance), RMB 90 (under 25). 8pm. Yugong Yishan (6404 2711)


Add new comment