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#PopularPlay: Joy Downer


Jun 5, 2020

The Ode to Joy – And oh, what a joy this artist is. 

Los Angeles independent musician, Joy Downer, debuts her stunning full-length record, Paper Moon. And trust us, you’re going to want to put it on repeat, repeat, repeat. 

Joy’s delicate voice, lush synths, and rhythmic instrumentals will transport you into the ultimate retro dreamland. Paper Moon is a bevy of tracks that illustrate a transient headspace of being at the epicenter of an 80s coming-of-age flick. The kind of tracks curated to blast for nightly getaway drives—the kind of tracks powerful enough to make you experience the sensation of feeling completely weightless. 

Her song “In The Water” is currently featured as the theme song for the Netflix original series, Spinning Out, and she was rightfully recruited to record a powerful cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for a Honda TV Ad. 

Follow along with Joy’s interview as she takes us on a journey through her musical upbringing, the inspirations and magic behind Paper Moon, and the many, many cut and color experiments her hair has endured. 

1. Tell us about your new LP Paper Moon and the inspiration behind it!
Paper Moon is a collection of songs that are inspired by my personal life experiences and relationships. At times – maybe even subconscious trauma I never worked through. Sometimes I don’t really know myself and tend to not question the inspiration too much. I’m just happy the inspiration came in the first place. I’m so proud and excited to set these songs free and invite people into the feelings and the journey each song has to offer. I’m also so thrilled with how the final mixes sounded. Dave Trumfio mixed six of the tracks (and mastered the whole album), and Liam Westbrook mixed three of the tracks. Mixing + mastering was definitely the final magic ingredient to making them sound as best they possibly could. 

2. Do you have a favorite song from the album?
I named this album Paper Moon, not just because it’s my personal favorite track, but because the meaning of a paper moon seemed fitting to my journey over the last couple of years. I went from believing that I was working towards “making it” and proving myself, to realizing I had already successfully completed a collection of original songs from home, with my husband/producing partner. I was already successful, and the goal to “make it in Hollywood” was just a paper moon. I already had everything I could want, and I hadn’t given up any creative control or signed my masters away. That’s a great feeling – to not have traded in my wings for a silver spoon.

3. Your music has been on TV shows and Ads. How cool is that?!
I can not deny this. I don’t know why I would. It’s true, though I often can’t believe it is. I feel incredibly honored and lucky anytime this happens. I guess you could say on a scale from not very cool to super cool; it’s actually off the charts in my personal cool scale measurements.

4. You came from a family of musicians. Do you think that helped shape your music?
There are indeed SO many talented musicians in my family. I would be remiss not to name them and pay what little tribute I can.
My great grandmother, Lucia Pamela – who was ahead of her time with her experimental jazz album about going to the moon (do check it out). My two grandpas, Grandpa Roy, and my Grandpa Jim – both played country music. My mom, Lisa Linsky, a beautiful piano composer. My dad, Jim Bishop – a rad drummer. My brother, Jon Bishop – a prolific songwriter. My sister, Jamie Bishop – also a piano composer. My cousin, Alex Bloom – a great singer/songwriter. My great aunt, Georgia Frontiere – an incredible opera singer.My uncle, Chip Rosenbloom – also a renowned songwriter. My aunt, Georgia Eisner – a true wordsmith. And last, but certainly not least is my husband, Jeffrey Downer – an outstanding song producer/writer/multi-instrumentalist.
If I missed anyone, it’s because, as you can see, there are so very many musicians in my family, each of them talented and each of them inspiration to me. I don’t think I would be who I am, doing what I do without this gift that has been shared and passed down through generations.

5. Tell us an artist you would die to work with.
If you mean this literally (which I have the feeling you don’t, but for fun sake, I’ll answer as such), I would definitely die to work with David Bowie. He’s one of my greatest musical loves and inspirations. I admire his constant ability to invite and celebrate change throughout his career. I also admire his talent for being innovative, clever, emotive, and fun with his songwriting and production. He didn’t just do this in his music, but also how he experimented with his stage presentation/character expression.
To answer the question the way it was intended to be answered, it’s truly hard to pick just one, but I would “die” to work with Beck. He’s an incredible songwriter, and one of my musical heroes. His catalog is almost too overwhelming to comprehend. It would be a dream come true to collaborate with him in any way.

6. Tell us about your hair! How many haircuts and colors have you had? We tried to pick a favorite, but we couldn’t!
Well, my hair is currently blue, like my mood… just kidding (but there’s a little truth in every joke, supposedly). Jokes aside, I do have an incurable urge that drives me to make sudden changes to my hair at least once a week. Sometimes that change is subtle – like a little trimmy-trim – sometimes not so subtle. For example, I’ll watch The Hobbit and decide I must immediately look like I live in The Shire (which is like a chic mullet).
I’m an expressive person (but also apparently very impressionable in the case of one Frodo Baggins), and I find that my hair is just another way to express myself. I have maybe too much fun with it. That’s not true; I think it’s the appropriate amount of fun. I’ve had dark brown hair, black hair, platinum, platinum went wrong, pink, orange, green, yellow, red, and purple. In the case of haircuts – I’ve had pixie cuts, perms, bobs, bowl cuts, mullets, and what I call “normal hair” – which is longer than my shoulders and natural color. Oftentimes I do my hair myself, but this last time, my brilliant hairstylist friend Bekah Lesser had my back (or my hair). She gave me the dreamiest blue and the best “Shire” haircut. Look who’s about to make a splash in The Shire. Heeeeeey Frodo *wink*.

7. Do you have any upcoming projects?
Upcoming projects? You betcha! But it’s secret (no, it’s not), so I better keep it under wraps for now (there is nothing to keep under wraps). Ok, fine, I admit – I have no upcoming projects outside of finally releasing an album I worked two grueling years to create, with my own blood/sweat/and tears. Jeffrey (my husband) did those same things as well for this album. I will add that navigating my reemergence back into society and being around people after 70 days of quarantine might be the biggest project of all. And I’m certain that experience will likely spark a musical project.

Joy encourages fans to purchase the album through Bandcamp, where 100% of proceeds will contribute to Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles.

GO, GO, GO, PEOPLE! Hop in your car, take a windows-down summer cruise, and start streaming Paper Moon ! Available everywhere TODAY. 

Be sure to follow Joy Downer on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.