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Euro-based, Australian singer-songwriter Joel Havea is about to begin his 2016 summer Australian tour before heading back to Germany to complete a new album. AM’s Greg Phillips caught up with Joel on Skype prior to the tour to see what he’s been up to.

Like any independent artist competing with a million others to secure regular work, airplay, media attention, album sales and public recognition, for European-based Australian singer, songwriter Joel Havea, the quest for success is an ongoing struggle. But man, on the surface  his life looks so attractive. A search through YouTube will show Joel playing on a platform in the beautiful Port of Piraeus, Greece, jamming with a bunch of kids on the exotic island of Mauritius, or playing in a gorgeous garden in Amsterdam. Or as he told me, he’d just played a private gig a few days earlier in a 1000 year old German castle to a baron, the baron’s wife, girlfriend and three daughters on a stage in the guy’s living room.

To be fair though, Joel has worked extremely hard to achieve the goals he has realised thus far. Around eight years ago, Joel packed his guitar and little else and headed to Europe, where he set about establishing a career as a musician. Joel had been playing in Melbourne as part of the Havea Brothers, a duo with his younger brother Dave but with a population a fraction of that in Europe, Havea was finding that Australia was offering up few possibilities.

Havea_Press_Pic3“I am doing everything independently,” he explains. “It has been a lot of work but you build contacts with each tour. The benefit of living here is that you’re only an hour’s flight from London or Paris. Also, just the German market alone… I think Germany has over 100 cities that have over 100,00 people. You could play every night of the week if you wanted. I also think the German audiences have more of a collective responsibility to support the arts. Sometimes you’ll play for tips and pass the hat around and that can be quite lucrative. You can make four, five, six hundred Euros sometimes doing that.”

One of the keys to Havea’s development as an artist in Germany has been the learning of the local language. It has broken down any barriers between himself, booking agents, labels, venues, or any other local music industry people he needs to communicate with. “I’m fluent in German now,” he says. “I really studied quite hard when I got here. My girlfriend is from Austria and her parents don’t speak much English, so it was a bit of a baptism by fire. It’s one of the things that kept me here too. I was backpacking through Europe and went to visit a friend who is living in Berlin. There’s an education facility that is in every city which is subsidised by the government and you can learn a language or do a pottery course or whatever and I went to study German, met some cool people and enjoyed it so much I wanted to stay.”

The Europeans seem to be taking a shine to Joel’s uplifting, good-time, acoustic-based brand of pop, rock. In reviews of his current recording, the EP Strings & Wood, Havea has been favourably compared to Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz and Ben Harper to name a few. So appealing has his music been to his fans, that he was able to raise 15,000 Euros in a crowd funding campaign to assist in the production of his next album. Most of the songs were recorded in Poland last year with his trio, featuring Leo Lazar on drums with Arnd Geise playing bass.
“We’re going to use the money to fund the production costs for the album and mixing, mastering,” says Joel. “We managed to record 13 songs in six days, so we still have to do some overdubs and I’m going to record a couple more songs when I get back from the Australia tour in April. The recording sessions were great though, a real learning experience for me. I’ve played hundreds of shows since my early 20s but I have a lot less experience in the studio. These recent sessions were more beneficial for me than previously because of the concentrated time we had. It was a studio in Poland called RecPublica, a 700 year old mill which was converted into a studio about ten years ago. The best thing about it is that it is in a village of about 2,000 people which has one supermarket. You live upstairs above the studio, they have 7 or 8 rooms. You wake up have breakfast then go down to the studio. We were working 12 and 14 hour days. It was great to just turn off the phone and really get involved in the process. It was great having my bass player and rummer who have had a lot more studio experience than me and we produced everything together. We tracked most of it live, trying to capture our live sound.”

Joel Havea Trio
Joel Havea Trio

Joel hopes to have the album released in the European Autumn, so somewhere between September and November this year. As well as changing things up by recording this time as the Joel Havea Trio, the amiable musician suggests that musically and lyrically, fans can expect a slight change of direction too.
“There are a couple of sad songs on the album,” he explains. “Normally my stuff is very upbeat. Life is about ups and owns and sometimes you need to have a few solemn moments to appreciate the good times. The working title is Setting Sail and the focus of it is on travel and the positive and negative effects associated with that. Also having lived in a harbour city for so many years, I guess subconsciously there’s stuff about ships and sailing. I noticed later that were quite a few references that I didn’t notice at the time.”

Australian audiences will get to hear Joel Havea perform his new material when his homecoming solo tour begins February 4th on the Gold Coast and makes its way down the east coast through until March. As for Joel’s grand plan?
“Just keep doing what I’m doing,” he says. “I gave up my day job about a year ago to do music full time. I guess I have put all of my bets on this hand. I’m addicted to touring at the moment. It is the best way to combine my two passions which are music and travel. Taking it one year at a time and setting realistic goals. The album will be out this year and is different to anything else I have released. I just want to be playing as many gigs as possible with my trio and hopefully bring them to Australia next summer in 2017.”


Feb 04 Seachange Villas Gold Coast, Australia

Feb 05 Statler & Waldorf Brisbane, Australia

Feb 06 Solbar Maroochydore, Australia

Feb 07 Mooloolaba Yacht Club Mooloolaba, Australia

Feb 18 The Grace Darling Collingwood Vic, Australia

Friday 19 Soundbar, Rosebud

Feb 20 Grind N Groove Healesville, Australia

Sunday 21 Mornington Peninsula Brewery, Mornington

Feb 24 Ararat Live Ararat, Australia

Feb 25 Babushka Lounge Bakery Hill, Australia

Feb 26 The Golden Vine Bendigo, Australia

Feb 27 Saints and Sailors Portarlington, Australia

Mar 02 Front Gallery Canberra, Australia

Mar 03  505 Bar Sydney, Australia

Mar 09 Rad Bar Wollongong, Australia

March 18-20  Yackandandah Folk Festival, Yackandandah

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