No Joy interview
No Joy talks record labels and fashion labels
Words— Junaid Abbasi
Jasamine White-Gluz is the singer-guitarist behind Montreal indie band No Joy. After releasing three albums to critical-acclaim, and countless tours with some of indie rock’s finest, the group underwent a few changes and decided to take a new direction, releasing a series of EPs instead of the traditional full-length record. Just days before her month-long tour with Quicksand, we chatted with Jasamine about being the centre of attention, music labels, and what it was like to have their song played during a Gucci runway show.
Your last record [More Faithful] was released as a four-piece. I’m now here just with you––is No Joy just your project now?
I wouldn’t say it’s just my project, because I’m always collaborating with different people. But we had done so many records as a band that it sort of hit a brick wall creatively. Personally, I wanted to try doing stuff without thinking like a band. Whether it was working with different producers, writers––I just wanted to try to do that. It was always primarily my songs that other band members collaborated on, with the exception of More Faithful. We’re on great terms, and they’re some of my best friends–I talk to them all the time. Laura [Lloyd] is still involved, but just to a lesser degree. I look back at everything we did, and they’re still part of it. It’s something we built together.
Jasamine is wearing the Light-Wash Denim Pencil Skirt
What’s it like for the focus to now be shifted all onto you? You’re the star of the last two music videos, “Califone” and “Hellhole”.
I never liked being the center of attention–I still don’t. But it got to a point where it was a bit weird; I wouldn’t be credited for any of the stuff that I was doing. Even if it was a song that I sang on, people would say “Vocalist Laura Lloyd”. So it was also just to make things clear. I wrote those songs, so I thought that it would make sense for me to be in the videos. For once. Because I’ve avoided it for so long. [Laughs]
"I never liked being the center of attention–I still don’t. But it got to a point where it was a bit weird; I wouldn’t be credited for any of the stuff that I was doing."
You’ve released music through Mexican Summer, Arts&Crafts, and Topshelf Records. Can you tell us a bit about the new record label you’re on, Grey Market?
John Rebeli used to be an A&R at Atlantic in the ‘90s. He met our producer Jorge [Elbretch] through Max Hooper Schneider–– the artist whose artwork is featured on the cover of the Creep EP. They brainstormed this idea of creating this sort of collective/label/publishing house, where they would release anything that they’d like to limited edition. We were their first release. It’s brand new, but the idea is that it’s transparent. You can accumulate a lot of debt through record labels; they expense a lot of things on your account that you don’t know about sometimes. Grey Market’s whole mandate is that you have access to all the information: how much everything costs, how many albums you’ve sold––it’s a very clear transaction.
Do you think record labels are still necessary?
If you have the slightest understanding of how to distribute, or how to get things on Spotify, then you don’t really need one. I think tools like Bandcamp make it so easy for you to get your music to people. A label does front cost for production and music videos, which can be expensive, but it’s not how it used to be. You used to need an A&R to guide you through the process of putting out the record. I remember there would be a 3-month promo cycle before the record came out, and then 3 months of touring. Put out a follow-up single after that, and then tour again. It was too much––you just have to put it out and see what happens. That being said, I do have a bunch of stuff that’s just been sitting around, only because I’m waiting for the right time to release it.
When can we expect your next EP?
Late winter? But there’s gonna be a live EP that we did at Third Man Records in Nashville. We recorded just 2 songs live there.
Did you see Jack White?
I did! No one else saw him––he was like a ghost. [Laughs] We were doing a session on the last day of our tour. They’re super nice there. There’s like BB King’s guitar you can use and beautiful vintage gear. We were scheduled right after Dinosaur Jr, but we had a flight to catch, so we just used whatever amps and guitars they had set up, and recorded two songs straight to tape. So I think that’s going to come out before the other EP, probably in the fall.
You guys are familiar with the fashion world. A few years ago, Gucci used “Blue Neck Riviera” in one of their runway shows. How did that happen?
We were on tour with Deafheaven, and I got a message in the middle of the night from our label [Mexican Summer] saying that Gucci approached them. As someone who has worked in fashion, I was like: HOLY SHIT! We were in Providence, RI streaming the show, which casted such crazy models. Seeing Anna Wintour and Kate Moss at a show where our music was playing was insane! Kris Knight––who’s a painter in Toronto––was commissioned to do these paintings that Gucci chopped up and sewed into some clothes. He’s a music nerd, and had passed our record to the creative director at Gucci. She liked it and decided to use “Blue Neck Riviera”. Fashion is art, so it’s cool to collaborate in that way.
You have a really cool style––how would you describe it?
Hoarder, I guess? [Laughs] When your friends are having a garage sale and giving away their clothes, I’ll be the first person to say “I’ll take it all!” The two things I have the most are music equipment and clothes. My mom has really good taste, so I steal a lot of her clothes from the ‘80s and ‘90s. I don’t buy a lot of new stuff. Except maybe an ugly skirt from Renaissance, or Frank And Oak. [Laughs]
If you enjoyed our sit down with No Joy, check out some of our other interviews.