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Joel Pott
Joel_Pott

Joel Pott

Singer, Songwriter, Musician
Joel Pott

Joel Pott found fame as the lead singer and songwriter in Athlete, responsible for the huge hit Wires. For the last six years he's been writing songs with some of the biggest stars and best voices in UK music including George Ezra, James Bay and London Grammar. His mates still aren't impressed, mind…

 

Athlete, George Ezra, London Grammar, James Bay, Rhodes, Gabrielle Aplin, Shura, Mabel, Mina Rose
Joel is using...
Spirit
Origin
The things you do to impress people…

My parents got me a cheap nylon string guitar when I was seven. I learned how to play La Bamba behind my back so I could show off when my friends came round. They weren’t that impressed, really. So I had to work harder and progressed to writing songs. They’re still not that impressed…


When I turned 18, I thought “sod university, I want to be in a band”. So I spent the next five years on the dole, working in venues, skateboard stores, anything to get by so I could write songs and gig. Eventually we signed a deal and had 10 years of making records and touring. When we decided to call it a day as a band I just decided to try collaborating with a few other artists and I’ve now been doing that for the last six years.


Initially it was a big adjustment, but exciting as it was something different. There were points where it was like 'man this is hard work' and then other points, like two years after no touring, when I started wanting to be on tour! But then I also chose song writing because I had kids so thought 'I want to be around for them now'. So you have to deal with that kind of change in life but even now, like seven years on, I still get those tour cravings!
I'd never rule it [Athlete] out happening again, but it would be very difficult, even just logistically. Once you all go your separate ways and start brand new careers, just getting together for a pint these day is hard. It does happen but you should see the number of emails that go around!

Lyrics last longer


I was fortunate as it helped coming off the back of being in a fairly successful band. You might be a great song writer but if you are come in with nothing on your CV, it's tougher, but if you've got a few things on your CV like I fortunately did, it kind of helps you get in the room with a few people. It did still take three years before I had a bit of success with song writing though…

I always prefer to write with the artist because essentially it's about them, their story and about what they want to say, so if it was me on my own then it would be a guessing game. It works especially with people you have already built up a relationship with because there is the trust there, from them to you to come up with something. I'm currently working with Shura on her second record and she's someone I collaborate with a lot and get on really well with, so I might come up with chords or melodies and send them over and she writes lyrics or adjusts melodies and then send them back but, in general, it is sitting in a room with the artist writing.
If someone is brilliant at lyrics then I obviously don't need to do much but if someone is good with melody then I will try and push them on the lyrical side, so it's playing to people's strengths. For me it's all about the lyric. It's very easy to come up with a half decent melody, but lyrics last longer. If you want a song to last then you have to have a lyric that resonates.

I get on really well with George Ezra. That has been so easy and so much fun – he's such a nice guy, and also with Shura as I mentioned. Working with Mabel has been a good one and a girl I've been working with recently called Mina Rose. It's easy to collaborate with people who become your friends – it's like forming your own little band.

Wired up and ready

I’ve just recently got a new studio and I’ve been able to design it to suit my workflow which is great. I’m trying to make ‘screen time’ minimal. It’s about focusing on writing the song and playing around with all the fun stuff (instruments, vinyl, silly pedals and wot not). Everything is wired up and ready to go so I don’t have to faff about. I use Pro Tools as main DAW with the new Antelope Orion interface. Native Instruments Maschine is great for getting interesting ideas down quick when songwriting. Other go-to gear? Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 6, Roland Space Echo, and Royer SF-24. I also got a new pedal recently that is soooo good – a Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl vibrato and chorus pedal.

Aston? Well, we all like locally sourced stuff, right?! They are classic British mics for the modern studio. The Spirit is great as an honest microphone with a bit of air, but I also love playing around with it through crunchy distressors and pedals. It likes being messed with – I mean it’s built like a tank. I also put the Spirit as a mono room on drums on a session last year and loved it. I have it set up as that all the time now – it creates an up front, close ‘LCD Soundsystem’ vibe. I can also run it through other toys and smash it to high heaven and it sounds awesome.

I tried recording demos and live stuff with George with one mic, the Origin, in the room and that worked really well. It was capturing the vocal and acoustic guitar, and even both of us at the same time, just to get that live room recording, capturing a vibe so I could send it over to a label. Sometimes that is quite often better than doing a posh recording.

 

Out-takes

Q. If you weren't working in the music what would you be doing?
A. Snowboarding in Utah.

Q. What would your fantacy mic be?
A. It would be called 'The Mind Reader' and it would know exactly what sound you're after, ha ha! I kind of like using my ears though - sometimes the perfect sound isn't the right sound.

Q. What are the 4 words you'd chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. Go to nice guys.

Q. What is the first song that made you cry?

A. Nick Cave's Into My Arms. I remember hearing it after my grandma had died and it is one of those songs, like a blanket.

 

 

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