WPGM Commentary: Joe Hertz On His New Album ‘Current Blues’ – Track By Track


Current Blues is a collection of songs I’ve written between 2018-2020.

I’ve been trying to find the perfect sound that captures the feelings, situations and memories which evoke emotion within me. Once those pictures became clear, the tracks were easier to finish.

In most cases for these tracks, I’ve started the ideas on my own and then worked collaboratively with some good friends that I’ve met along my journey so far to get to the final product. A few are just from studio jams with people I have only just met and just collaborating on the fly.

I feel like I have discovered loads of new talent over the last few years and am very excited to hopefully introduce some new voices to people which I think need to be heard.

Music has led me to some amazing experiences over the last few years; getting to travel around Europe, Asia and the US for gigs and sessions etc. On each part of the journey I’ve got to experience a bit of the culture and it has taught me more about myself and what I’m trying to achieve.

I’d say that about 95% of the album was done before COVID-19 became a pandemic. This time in-between has made me appreciate those but also realise the power of connectivity and what’s still possible to achieve.

Here are a couple of words about the tracks on the project:

“Colourblind”

Collard and I got in the studio at the beginning of 2020. After I heard his song “Sofa”, I had it on repeat and knew he was someone I really wanted to work with – it was really nice working with him! Super chilled, really nice dude, insane voice.

We were writing about a difficult relationship, where two people couldn’t see each other’s needs. We knocked out his vocals in two sessions and then I went off and made some finishing touches.

“Beneficious”

I went to LA at the end of 2019 for a couple of weeks to write with some artists out there. Kablito and I linked at Spotify’s office in LA where they have a little studio literally in the middle of their office. I’m excited to be working with someone who sings in Spanish (she’s originally from Ecuador).

It feels good to hopefully give something back to my Spanish speaking fans. I was quite out of my comfort zone because it was just me and my laptop, away from the familiar synths and other toys back at my own studio that I usually go to.

But we ended up getting the demo for “Beneficious” which I was really into. The song is about friends with benefits. I ended up finishing the beat in London, while Kablito cut the final vocals in LA and sent them to me. Just a mix and that was it.

“Trippin”

During the same trip to LA, Spotify organised time for me at the Secret Genius Studios out there to do sessions for a few days. That’s where I met Ryahn! I think it was one of those days when both of us were just both in that right moment to be creative.

I had been listening to a lot of 80s funk and soul like Patrice Rushen so wanted to channel some of that energy but in a fresh way. I remember being gassed when she first started roughly singing the chorus melody in the studio. For some reason it reminded me of a UK garage sample.

“Senses”

I first did a session with Syd B in London a few years ago when she was passing through to do some shows. We had a dope session but never finished the track we started. It was cool to link up with her again in her hometown, LA.

Syd brought Floyd Fuji to the session, someone she’s worked with on a lot of her recent projects, but I had never met him until then. We were meant to have a studio booked but long story short no one was there to let us in so we ended up going back to Floyd’s house, a place in the suburbs full of producers all making different music.

It ended up being an awesome day and we wrote the demo for senses in Floyd’s bedroom. I played some chords and Floyd just brought the magic with his guitar and Syd did her thing!

“Cross My Mind”

Sophie Faith was a name first introduced to me years earlier. We knew each other through friends who were saying we should work together. We finally got together and on that day wrote “Cross My Mind”.

Sophie’s a legend and has become a good friend. One of the most talented singers I know, performing just comes naturally to her. I got my friend Luke Wynter to come and play some Sax for the finishing touch.

“Fight Or Flight”

Iyamah & I had a couple of sessions in 2019. Her song “Cryptic Love” is still one of my favourites of the last few years. We had spoken a lot about the anxiety we live with, as artists and as people. We wanted to write a song about it but also wanted it to be uplifting and have energy, to hopefully spread the message that it’s good to look at and talk about these things.

“I Don’t Swear”

Pip’s one of my favourite people to work with, she’s super chilled and always comes out with something dope. It was one of the first writing sessions after releasing Goodbye Kisses that Pip and I started this idea. I remember not feeling what I had done but she had still delivered this awesome demo vocal.

It took me about a year to dig the idea up again and have another go at it. I got it back to a point where I was starting to get excited about it and so got her back in to revocal and add some extra parts. It came together quickly after that.

“Korok Shuffle & Deep End”

One of my main influences is house and when I DJ I play a lot of house influenced music. Although I really enjoy writing songs collaboratively with artists, I also love just making music with no boundaries when it comes to thinking about what will work with a vocal.

This is why I wanted to include “Korok Shuffle and Deep End” on the album. Both tracks channel more energy from the nostalgic things like all the retro video games and anime I grew up on. Deep End was made around the beginning of quarantine.

“Moon”

I had been listening to a lot of 80’s soul music and studying the progressions around the time when I made the instrumental. I remember playing it to Nonô and she was buzzing! She likes to use tarot cards to help her write sometimes which just felt right with the outer space vibe.

“One Sided”

Kaleem was one of the first people I ever worked with, we released a song called “Isolate” back in 2015-2016 time. It was great to get back in the studio with him to work on this track. We were talking about a one-sided relationship, to be perceived as it’s seen.

The beat was something I started with Luke Wynter, who you will see featured on other places in the album. Luke’s a super talented multi-instrumentalist who’s also involved with the likes of Joe Armon-Jones, Nubiyan Twist and Two Another.

He’s someone who I just love having in the studio to let him loose on things, always loads of fun. Kaleem came in for a session and I played him the demo. The way I worked with Kaleem, we just recorded loads of melodies until we found things that we thought were catchy and worked. We then worked the message in after.

“Rain In Cuba”

This track first started in a session I had with NK and David who are Blue Lab Beats. We jammed out a few ideas that day but this one stood out to me. A few weeks later while trying to finish the beat, I spoke to my management about the idea of getting a singer and a rapper on the track.

That’s when the idea of getting Sam and Barney on the track came through. I have worked with them both on previous tracks FOMO and IHYDFIL. The demo was called ‘cuba’ because Blue Lab had just got back from there and I just named it that.

The lyrics developed from that because Sam, Barney and I were talking about getting into an argument with your other half on holiday even though you ’should’ both be happy. Rain In Cuba.

“Used”

I wrote this track with Dom McAllister just before I went on my Asia tour in 2019. The beat was a real collaboration, Dom had come in with this really nice guitar progression that he had been playing around with.

I built the beat around that and we put down rough vocals before calling it a demo. I then later met YonYon while I was out playing a gig in Tokyo who just came through and I got to speak to after my show. She’s an artist born in Seoul but lives in Tokyo who DJs and produces also.

She was someone who I just wanted to work with. I also just really have wanted for a long time to do more collaborations with artists from places that inspire me the most, to draw that international connection.

Listen to my Current Blues album below!

Words by Joe Hertz // Follow him on Twitter + Instagram

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