sir Was is the musical journey of Joel Wästberg, documenting a wealth of unique & idiosyncratic influences. Growing up in the tiny village of Frillesås on the western coast of Sweden, he had an early career as a jazz saxophonist that led to studying in Gothenburg (where he lives now) and an influential time at the University of Kwasulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. From there he started focusing more on drums, and immersed himself in discovering pan-African rhythms & sounds, traveling through Mozambique and Zimbabwe, finding musical inspiration all along the way. The resulting range of styles is as uncommon and refreshing as the story might suggest. It is intricate without feeling complex, with driving beats and dynamically varied instrumentation weaving throughout.
sir Was’ first offering is a relatively gentle introduction. ‘A Minor Life’ sets the scene with colorful flourishes of bagpipes & recorder sailing around a core of syncopated modular synths. Nestled underneath is a swinging live beat so clear and sharp, it could be mistaken for a J Dilla sample.
Demonstrating a seemingly effortless marriage of organic instrumentation, synthetic sounds and head-bobbing beats, he shows himself as a master of balance. Perfectly weighted songs merge graceful melody and deep beats with his unique production style. The end result is beautifully emotive, atmospheric tracks eschewing genre classification.
Simply put, whilst some artists strive to push boundaries, sir Was seems blissfully unaware of them in the first place.
May 5Spot FestivalArhus, DK