Interview Josef Salvat: “Now the only thing I care about is whether the people who listen to me are going to feel fed”

We find out more about his upcoming new album, ‘Islands’.

Set for release on 18th February, Josef Salvat has announced his brand new album ‘Islands’.

Following the release of ‘Modern Anxiety’ last year, Josef says, “I think some of the best songs I’ve ever written are on this record. Some of the funnest, freest music. Even when there’s sadness it’s more a wistful understanding. There’s an acceptance and forgiveness of past fuckery and moving on. I’m proud of all of my albums for different reasons but I think Islands is my best.”

We sent him over some qs to find out more!

Hey Josef, how are you?
Excellent thank you.

Your second album ‘Modern Anxiety’ came out last year, when did work begin on new record ‘Islands’?
We started production about 4 months after Modern Anxiety’s release but all the demos were written before that, except for Sunbeams

You’ve mentioned how changing labels has allowed you to be more free on this record, can you tell us a bit more about that mindset?
I moved from a major to an independent. I wrote quite a bit of music in the 5 years between Night Swim and Modern Anxiety that, for various reasons, I wasn’t able to release. I was in a situation where I’d made money for the label but didn’t have a big enough fan base for them to care about another record. In this case they might like to drop you but the balance sheets say no, so they keep you but do this kind of ‘corporate ghosting’ instead. It’s mildly traumatsing. Now, on an independent, I can more or less release what I want, when I want. I work with people that care, are engaged, and are more adaptable and proactive. This relative freedom has lead to a pretty huge head shift for me, which found it’s way into the making of this album.

It’s been described as the album you always wanted to create. What would you say shapes and characterises that?
I think I used to be a little tied up by this idea of ‘credibility’, which is ultimately just unhealthy ego I think. Now the only thing I care about is whether the people who listen to me are going to feel fed. I wanted to make something uplifting, meaningful, hopeful and fun for them.

What are some of the stories that informed the album?
Sunbeams, let’s start there. I’d experienced a horrendous relationship, did a bunch of work on myself and much to my surprise found another that was peaceful and safe. It was morning and the light was making lines across the sheets and we were just side by side in the quiet and it was beautiful. I wrote sunbeams in that state. Promiscuity, the seed of which was an old (but old) couple passionately making out in Barcelona. I imagined them having sex and was thankfully grown enough to realise how wonderful that must be. I then went off on my own tangent and Promiscuity was the result. Islands: there’re quite a few stories that lead to it but one thread of it is that I was hanging out with a lot of rich and famous people at the time taking too many drugs and feeling completely empty. I looked at myself one day and just thought: why mate?

What were some of the standout moments when writing it?
I remember writing every song on this album and I think what tied them together for me is that they were all stand out moments. Every song on this record just poured out, quickly and completely (at least from a songwriting perspective). I might have been messing about with production for years on some of them, but when they were being written each track was its own little eureka moment.

Do you have a favourite song that you’re most excited for people to hear?
First album where I genuinely don’t have a favourite, or a least favourite. But if we must I think ‘So Lite’ is a banger.

What can your fans expect from this album?
It’s the same thing I always do - sad songs wrapped in sugar. But it’s ultimately freer than anything I’ve made before. It’s happy.

How does this differ from your previous projects?
Sonically it’s some worlds away. There’s only one ballad and it’s unapologetically pop.

Why the name ‘Islands’?
I come from and island, and the songs are a little island nation, separated but together. In terms of their subject matter they all share an interest in the emotional distance that exists between every human. This distance sometimes makes me think of water separating land masses.

What do you most want people to take away from ‘Islands’?
Really whatever they want. My direction ends with the release of the songs.


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