Sweetheart Series: Joe August & Dorothea
The Artist: Joe August (Joe Kaufman)
The Artist: Dorothea (Erin Beattie)
How We Met: We went to the same small college and had choir together, but we officially met on Halloween a few years ago at a party. It was actually right after Joe had released his first EP “Up to Now” (in October 2015) and that night we drunkenly played each other some of our own songs. We went on a date the next week, but didn’t really reconnect until later that year. I was assigned to cover one of Joe’s concerts for SPU’s newspaper. I interviewed him in our school cafeteria, when Joe asked me if I would sing backup for an upcoming show. I’ve been in the band ever since, and we became good friends over the course of time.
Joe went to LA that summer while I stayed in Seattle, but we kept in contact and both realized the feelings we had for each other. When he returned to Seattle in September to finish college and begin recording his EP, he asked me out again. We had a funny first “real” date, we went to dinner with his mom, who was in town. We’ve been together since then.
How long we’ve been together: 1 and a half years
Erin: Who is Joe August?
Joe: I think the sound of Joe August combines the retro sound and style of early 60s and 70s Rock and Roll with elements of Soul, Blues, RnB and Jazz to create one giant rock orchestra.
Joe: Who is Dorothea?
Erin: I think I’m still figuring that out. After recording my first song, “Weight of Love” I think I realized all the pieces that go into a vision and creating something that’s a part of you that others can relate to. I think that Dorothea is a process of who I am. But overall, it’s just me. Vulnerability is a big part of who I am and so I hope that’s reflected in the music I create.
Joe: What’s it like to work with me?
Erin: It’s always been easy working with you because you have always had a vision and been straightforward about what you want. I think on this EP working with you was challenging for me, in a good way. I do feel like I really grew because of a lot of your direction, but also from a lot of your encouragement.
I don’t know, it’s fun to work with you when I see the way you treat other people who are really involved in your project everyday. Your work is built on relationship, and it’s just awesome to see your vision take hold because you’ve worked with such amazing musicians who know what you want. Seeing that transposed into something physical that we can listen to, it’s cool to be a part of a project like that. I’ve seen create music in your mind, and then you get in the studio and make it happen. By the end of the session I know exactly what it is you heard. You work really hard and don’t settle for anything less than what you’re hearing in your head, and that’s inspiring to be a part of.
Erin: What is it like working with me?
Joe: I think it’s amazing, working with you. I think you have a beautiful voice, especially lower register. I like your tone a lot. You have a great ear for harmony and you have really great stylistic ideas, too.
I would like to see you, like really bust out sometime. Like nothing’s holding you back, because I think you could do it. I think you would kill it. It definitely takes a certain confidence and backbone to really do something like that, but I know you could do that.
You are open to being pushed beyond your limits, especially if there could be a better outcome. I feel like the times we’ve worked together, it has been like that.
But you just have a great ear and that’s the most important thing, especially as a singer.
Erin: You just released your self-titled EP “Joe August”. How would you describe your experience recording your first EP, “Up To Now” in comparison to your latest release?
Joe: The first EP was recorded on a time crunch. We had a week to record, mix and master. So, I had a general idea of what I wanted and how I wanted my songs to sound like. I was younger and I was honestly less knowledgeable of the direction I wanted to go for. I feel like I didn’t have as clear of a vision as I do now, for the music. It was an amazing experience and it got my feet off the ground. That’s when people started generating an interest in my music.
Erin: Well, you did create two music videos from that EP…
Joe: Right, I did. For “You and I” and “Bad for Me”, I was able to gain some traction. I think that first EP was a crucial step in the process. And now, I feel like I’ve been able to take my time with my creation. I’ve been able to take my time with collaborations and really think about how someone is going to impact my sound, impact my vision. But the amazing thing about my new EP is that 35 people were involved.
Erin: Yes- Let’s talk about that! You’ve built so many relationships with musicians who have committed to playing with you or producing with you. Tell me how that impacted your sound.
Joe: Yeah, that process and that community built around my vision is something that I think is truly amazing. I do not take it for granted. Because it felt like a once in a lifetime chance for me to make an album like this, an EP like this with the resources that I have available. With Nickerson Studios and the incredibly supportive Seattle Pacific University music community. So I knew that I wanted to use as many textures of sound as I possibly could, which is why you hear so many different instruments and so much orchestration on this EP. I just wasn’t able to do something like that when I first recorded.
Erin: If you could collaborate with anyone right now, who would you collaborate with?
Joe: Hmmm… anyone ever?
Erin: Yes, anyone!
Joe: That’s a tough one...I guess, Raphael Saadiq. Absolutely, Raphael Saadiq. Yep, it would be him...And I already have, haha. He’s listened and given me direction in my music. But I’m talking collaboration from the ground up. Like writing a song with him, and you know writing out everything together would be my number one collab.
Erin: Saadiq listened to the EP and gave you some feedback throughout the process, but especially on “Magazines and Fantasies”, which is the last song on the EP. How did he describe your sound?
Joe: It’s funny. He described it as my family. And I take that as a huge compliment. He described it exactly as what I represent it, and what my family represents. What my mom and dad represents. What my sister represents… it’s apparently what my music sounds like.
As an artist you strive, especially to be authentic in the public eye and I feel like that remark specifically made me feel like it’s possible that this EP feels really authentic. Despite the fact that there are so many people and so many sounds, it still sounds authentic because it’s true to who I am. It’s true to what I’ve always represented and stood for in my life. And it’s true to itself.
Erin: How do you feel listening to your new EP all the way through?
Joe: Personally, I feel a great sense of happiness and joy. The songs, for the most part, are relatively upbeat so I feel this energy from it. I feel this positivity that radiates off of it. Maybe that’s just because it’s my own music and that’s how I feel about it, but I think it makes you want to move. It makes you want to dance. I feel it physically I would hope that other people would too.
Erin: What do you want others to feel after listening to “Joe August”?
Joe: Everyone is going to have a different reaction to it. I think people are going to draw certain things that they like about it and certain things that they don’t like out of it because that’s a natural impulse when we listen to music.
A lot of the songs do have a message, they were written with intent. So if people can connect to and resonate with a message then I think that’s really important. I hope people will be able to do that.
Joe: I have a question for you! You’re featured on the EP as Dorothea performing “Bright Red Roses.” Did you ever think 5 years ago that you would have a song like that?
Erin: No I don’t think so. I remember writing that song with you and Chase (our bass player) and just being really excited about the possibility that sprung from it. I didn’t really think that it would be “my” song on the EP… I didn’t really think that I would have a song on the EP, just because I’ve always supported as backup vocals on this project. But it just came really naturally, writing it and creating it with the band during the recording process.
Joe: What was it like for you to record and sing a song that stretched your limits of comfortability, including starring in a music video?
Erin: I was just excited that it was different than anything I’ve created and performed before. Performing that song is an experience that differs from any of my other songs, just because it’s become an anthem to me. It’s inspiring me to create and perform differently-- to stretch myself. It’s a powerful song and I feel really proud of all of the work we put into it.
And yeah, we recorded that music video during our time in LA this past December. I’m really happy that it was my first music video. Working with your friend, David Foley was amazing. He was able to capture the song, its meaning and our relationship perfectly as a visual component to the EP.
Erin: So, what is going through your head as this EP is released? What’s next?
Joe: It feels fantastic. I keep thinking there’s so much to do… and there is so much to do. But I can’t wait. I feel like this is what I’ve been working on for three years-ish. So it feels pretty damn good.
And we’re going to add more songs to this and make it an album. And it’s written and ready
Erin: Right, and you’ve already started recording?
Joe: Yep, And we’ve already started recording more songs. So yeah, I couldn’t be more ecstatic. I really am super happy with it. It feels complete to me as I listen all the way through so that’s a great feeling as well.