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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Joe P sits down with The Hustler to discuss his first headlining tour

The Hustler interviewed Joe P to discuss his music and inspirations before he heads to Nashville on tour.
Jimmy Fontaine
Press photo of Joe P for his second EP release. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Fontaine)

When I think of 2020, I picture masks, Zoom and of course, those unforgettable white tents on Alumni Lawn. For many people, the lockdown made it difficult to continue focusing on school or work. But for singer-songwriter Joe Parella, who goes professionally by Joe P, the lockdown gave him the time to hone his music skills. In the midst of the pandemic and the disbandment of the band he had been leading since the eighth grade, Joe P focused on developing his career as a solo artist. He utilized online platforms like TikTok to gain traction and promote his songs, amassing nearly 400k followers. Shortly after, he signed with Neon Gold/Atlantic and released his debut EP, “Emily Can’t Sing” in 2021, and his second EP, “French Blonde” in 2022. Soon after, he toured with indie-rock bands like Middle Kids, Joywave and Spacey Jane.

“You can make a video in five seconds and it changes everything,” Parella said. 

At the same time, Parella also asserted that these platforms do not allow artists to skip out on the other crucial parts of writing and producing music. 

“You can’t fake experience. You still have to go out and play shows and practice and write a lot. TikTok is just the little sliver of [what] you record.”

While platforms like TikTok and Instagram can become overwhelming when many viewers are sharing their thoughts and comments, Parella aims to share his music without being influenced by the response of his followers. 

“You still have to take your time and do what you were going to do originally, as if those people don’t exist,” Parella said. 

When it comes to his creative process, Parella draws from his everyday emotions and experiences to write his lyrics. 

“Doing really regular things is when I get the best ideas because when you’re doing stuff that 99% of people do, you’re tapping into what is relatable,” Parella said. “I’m always in that headspace. Everything is right here in front of me to take in and use, but it’s gotta make me feel a certain way too.”

Parella also draws inspiration from other musicians, naming lyric-driven artists like Jeff Buckley, Fiona Apple and Bob Dylan as influences. Parella also explained that he often listens to music outside of his own genre for inspiration. 

I try not to listen to too much stuff that ends up in my world of music,” Parella said. “I’ll listen to hip-hop and stuff that is so far from the thing I do that it almost gives me better ideas, to take it out of that world and put it into my world.”

Press photo of Joe P for his “All Day I Dream About” release. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Fontaine).
Press photo of Joe P for his “All Day I Dream About” release. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Fontaine). (Jimmy Fontaine )

When making music, Parella primarily records in his home studio, sometimes venturing to Atlantic Studios to record a song. He enjoys the freedom that recording from home gives him to be whatever kind of artist he wants to be. When writing and recording his debut EP, his home studio allowed him to explore different ideas as he was figuring out his style as a solo artist. 

“The first EP was cool because it felt like I don’t know what I’m going to be as a solo artist,” Parella said. “So I could do anything and it was a blank canvas.”

As he has continued to record music, Parella says he has grown in his ability to create music that matches his vision. 

“Every time I record new music it feels like I’m a little closer,” Parella said. “It never hits it right on the head. But I think that’s what it’s always supposed to be like I almost did what I wanted to do and I can’t wait to try again.”

When visiting Nashville in the past, Parella noted that it was the only place outside of his home state of New Jersey where he could see himself living because of the large music community here. 

“I went to Nashville recently and did a lot of co-writing and it was cool meeting a lot of people who have the same home studio thing,” Parella said. 

Parella will be coming back to Nashville on April 25 to open for beabadoobee. This spring, he is heading out on his first headlining tour, with this brief stop in Nashville being the only show he’s not headlining.

“The Nashville show is the one that I’m the least nervous for because I’m opening,” Parella said. “I’m so nervous for the other stuff because I’ve never headlined before. The idea of people being like, ‘we already like you, do a good job, go,’ is weird.”

Despite the nervousness, Parella is excited to create shows that are organic and individual. Rather than focusing on light shows or fancy tricks, he aims to create an atmosphere where listeners can immerse themselves in the music.

“The shows are going to be about what happens in each room each night,” Parella said. “My goal is to make people feel like whatever they just saw or just heard can’t ever happen again in another city.” 

The up-and-coming artist brings a unique perspective and hands-on approach to creating thoughtful and alluring music. I certainly can’t wait to see what “happens in the room” when Parella performs a show at Marathon Music Works later this month. 

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About the Contributor
Claire Gatlin
Claire Gatlin, Former Life Editor
Claire Gatlin ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and political science. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and rollerblading. You can reach her at [email protected].
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