Joe Traxler moved to London from Austria a year ago. Listening to his new track “Reason To Change”, I’m stunned by the way he creates a mixture of softness and dynamical power. If you like music that makes you feel like you’re in love, while being an emotional mess, you’ll love Joe.
I had the pleasure to interview Austria’s “most promising newcomer of 2014“, who has toured with big German and Austrian pop stars such as Silbermond and Christina Stürmer. He has already played over 100 solo gigs in London and is currently working on his upcoming EP, which will be released this October. He told me about his love for Jeff Buckley, the first few weeks in London, and the tragic story behind his new song.
What’s the music industry in Austria like?
“It’s quite different to what it’s like in the UK. There are less opportunities to play gigs and in terms of media exposure, there are very few channels that actually reach a wider audience and it’s pretty close to impossible get this medial push if you don’t know the right people. On the other hand it’s way easier to get well paid gigs, but maybe that’s just how it seems cause I only just moved here and I’m starting from scratch so to speak“.
Tell us about the first few weeks in London!
“It was kind of surreal for me to finally be in London, as I was thinking about it for ages. I would just take a bus to random places every day to explore the city and played open mics pretty much every day to meet new people and to hone my craft. It was only one month later when university started where I met so many like-minded musicians and made some really good friends“.
You were part of the Austrian music casting show “Die große Chance”. Today, would you do it again?
“That’s a tough one. It was definitely a very valuable experience and good exposure but also very risky. I only played original songs, even though cover songs would have been more successful for sure, so I didn’t get this unwanted casting show stamp and a faked hype that I wouldn’t have been able to maintain. I remember having sleepless nights 3 months straight because of all the contracts but now I’m completely free and so much wiser about business and contract stuff“.
What do you dislike/like about the music industry?
“Well, we all know the music industry is a tough business! There’s not enough money in this industry for everyone who likes doing music to actually make a living from it. And you only ever get a very small percentage of what you put into it back, which is very draining sometimes. However I love doing what I do. It’s such a satisfying feeling for me to create and express myself through my voice and guitar so it’s really worth the hard work. And another aspect about the industry that I love is that you’re constantly around new people and your network expands literally every day“.
How often do you practice?
“In a song writing phase I sometimes spend up to 10 hours a day working on my music. I remember as a teenager, when I didn’t really had to do any of the management stuff yet, I would sometimes set an alarm at 7am to practice guitar until my neighbours started complaining at around 10pm. In a recording phase we also had studio sessions here in London sometimes until 3 in the morning.
That’s a very different but also very effective way of practicing. In a release phase I’m unfortunately sitting in front of my laptop for most of the time doing stuff that a manager would normally do. In a touring phase the days obviously get a lot shorter but then again playing live and analysing it the next day is the best practice anyway“.
Why did you decide to play the genre or genres you do?
“As a teenager I tried a lot of different styles to find out what I´m all about. Folk, Hard Rock, Metal, Hip Hop, Pop, Blues, Funk, Fusion & Jazz just to name a few. Primarily as a guitarist, singing only started to become serious for me at the age of 18.
It was also the time I started listening to a lot of singer-songwriter stuff, which I guess inspired me the most in my own project but I think you can hear some elements of all these genres if you listen closely and have a little imagination. Especially starting of as guitarist really influenced my style, if there’s no interesting guitar part in of my own songs I really feel uncomfortable with it“.
‘Art never comes from happiness’, how do you feel about that?
“I also feel like inspiration mostly comes from a sad emotion, however I don’t think being sad or even depressed is a condition to create art. That would be such a sad life“.
What’s your favourite song lately?
“‘Knifes Edge’ by Matt Corby! Saw them live in London and they blew me away“.
If you could bring back one dead musician, who would that be and why?
“Jeff Buckley. His vocal delivery and talent was from another planet and his song writing is so inspiring. I love how weird and different his songs are. I think he can pull off a lot of genres without losing his distinct style“.
Tell us about your last tour. Best/worst thing that happened?
“I think the most influential gig was my first solo gig, I was called literally just a few hours before my stage time and it was in front of more than 1000 people in a packed hall. However a few months later I played a gig in Frankfurt, Germany, a city where no one knows my name, in front of the bar owner, her husband, her friend and one drunk guy in the back. You learn a lot from these experiences though. I feel like nothing worse can happen and I’ve learnt how to cope with situations like these“.
You already have the second single of your EP coming up. What made you write ‘Life Is Funny Sometimes’?
“A very tragic story that happened quite some time ago, but I never found the right words to capture the emotion of it: I went on vacation with a good friend of mine and actually his dad – who used to live in France and was also a hobby pilot – picked us up from Austria with his private jet. I met his whole family there and spent a really nice week sailing around Marseille. A few years later, on all the covers of the papers, I saw a photo of that very plane in a huge hole on the ground“.
Words by Jazz Egger
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