Not Yours is the debut single from Kirikiriroa-based Nicholas Joseph and the first of three singles from a forthcoming EP out through Sonorous Circle.
Written and produced by Nicholas Joseph in an underground recording studio in Shanghai, China, Not Yours features Mark Brenndorfer (also known as Mild America) on live drums and additional mixing and mastering by Thomas Arbor (Kōtiro, Seth Frightening, I.Ryoko).
The song starts with an explosive beat and the line ‘face it, don’t fake it, I’m not yours’, setting a decisive tone. One part break-up song, one part victory march, Not Yours feels triumphant and vibrant. But soulful guitar solos question the resolve of Joseph’s anthemic vocals. For all their force there is a hesitancy lurking just under the surface. In its final seconds the song disassembles, the keyboard chords that have been there all along sounding sadder now stripped of the driving rhythm of the drums. While few will be familiar with the name Nicholas Joseph, the singer and multi-instrumentalist (government name Nicholas Joseph Walsh) was an active participant in Auckland’s indie scene for a decade. Cutting his teeth as the bass player for post punk trio Vacants (who played frequently with the likes of the Mint Chicks and Die!Die!Die!), and later the primary songwriter and front person of Deer Park.
Joseph’s former musical project Deer Park was a collaborative project with cousin Shannon Walsh. The band toured regularly making a name for the band with their sometimes slightly unhinged and emotive performances. The band toured regularly. Its heady combination of hip hop beats, samples and a horn section featuring Peter Ruddell (Wax Chattels/Sulfate) and JY Lee (Avantdale Bowling Club, Yoko Zuna) wowed audiences around the North Island. In 2015 the band were one of just a handful of local acts to play Laneway Festival, handpicked by festival organizers of the strength of their live performances. In spite of the growing hype, Joseph relocated to Shanghai, China, and the collection of songs that had garnered the band attention emerged much later under the album title ‘Saboteurs’. In the interim Jospehhas returned to New Zealand, founded Never Project Space, an artist-run space that championed emerging music and contemporary art (2020-2022).
Having tested the waters with a tour in China and a handful of shows in his hometown Kirikiriroa under the name Umbrellas, Nicholas Joseph is ready to lose the moniker and stand on his own two feet – taking on his first and middle name with a collection of songs that are stripped back, personal and raw – a far cry from the hazy beat driven soundscapes of his former band. Joseph’s new music is arresting and melodic – taking cues from the likes of Big Thief, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Nick Hakim – and favouring electric guitar over keyboard. Front and centre are his distinctive vocals,unembellished and layered.
His debut is scheduled for release via Poneke collective Sonorous Circle (home to the likes of Seth Frightening, Kōtiro and Thomas Arbor) with an accompanying tour to follow shortly after.