Words by:
Photography: Alex Evans

Joyeria is dressed in a bread suit – that is, two dozen baps threaded together – and pacing around on the pebbles of a British south coast beach.

“I thought I’d be a seagull’s dream,” the artist offers in explanation. “It was going to be an analogy for my music career – people pecking away at me! But it turned out to be an even better analogy, because those birds did not even come near me. They didn’t give a fuck.” Footage of this bread suit failure makes up the kitschy music video for his single, Colour Film; a freewheeling, thrill-seeking song that laughs in the face of disaster over unruly drums, cacophonous reverb and bursts of clarinet. That same unkempt spirit runs throughout Joyeria’s debut EP, FIM (aka: fuck I missed), a wildly accomplished release from an intentionally enigmatic songwriter.

Over six autobiographical tracks that reckon with ageing, artistry, labour and joy, FIM is at once playful and devastating. A lifetime of pent-up creative frustration is condensed into its sharp, direct lyrics, and gallows humour is sweetened by genuine optimism. “It’s not bad luck, it’s the wrong dream,” Joyeria sings on Performance Review, a song that offsets the chug of 90s indie rock with an ominous static buzz. “It’s tough to write like this,” he admits, “because the language is plain and the experience is real.”

Joy uses his stage name when we speak, preferring to stay anonymous, and provides a skeletal biography: he was born in Poland, moved to Canada as a child, and then settled in London about 15 years ago. A mysterious press release implies that he’s played in many bands prior to his current guise, maybe even some we might know, but when asked for details, he laughs evasively. “A ‘life in music’? I don’t know what that is.” Quickly, he adjusts his tone. “To me, [music] is just obsessive. The writing process is obsessive. My family told me, ‘You have to do something, or you have to stop.’”

So instead of stopping, he’s starting anew. As Joyeria, he’s sharing those creative impulses with the world for the first time, and working with Speedy Wunderground boss Dan Carey was central to his vision. Yet despite already knowing Carey, he refused to call in a favour. “Then it wouldn’t be pure,” he urges. “It had to be about the sound.”

Instead, Joy sent two anonymous tracks to the label – and got signed immediately. The taste-making London imprint is trusted for uncovering thrilling musical oddities (like Squid and black midi, to name two examples), and together they made such a richly eccentric EP, layered with rattling cowbell and squawks of viola, that it takes a six-piece band to perform it – all to Joy’s delight.

The EP was recorded in two straight takes – one to lay down the instrumentation, the other for his theatrical vocals – and it has the exhilarating, shaky legs feeling of standing on a cliff edge. It’s also bitterly funny: “I’ve never seen a rat run a race,” Joy deadpans on Death, a song punctuated by the wheeze of a clarinet. But, most important of all, the project is emotionally freeing. The throaty scream that opens Colour Film is as bracing as an icy plunge pool, and you get the sense that Joy is experiencing catharsis in real-time.

“Oh yeah, it feels really good,” Joy smiles. “That song is like, ‘It doesn’t matter. Nothing has to go your way. I’ll celebrate anyway.’” In this light, FIM is the sound of a true original embracing it all: every missed turn, every passing moment, every sloppy mistake. “I know what to do with failure,” he laughs. “It’s success that’s the scary bit.”

Sounds like: 90s indie rock with the wheels falling off
Soundtrack for: Screaming at the sky
File next to: Bill Callahan, Parquet Courts
Our favourite song: Performance Review
Where to find him: @joyeria.sounds

FIM is out now via Speedy Wunderground