By Nicholas Jason Lopez
On May 19, 2020, Pittsburgh-based experimental post-folk artist Joy Toujours released a music video for “Giving Tree,” which comes from their new four-track EP ‘Postjoy.’
Lyrically, “Giving Tree” explores relationships in which one gives themselves up completely until the realization that they have almost nothing left in them and that it’s time to “go, grow and glow.”
A dedicated user of Randonautica – an app which sends people on random adventures to explore the world around them by way of generated points, Toujours also lives in a van and travels around to play their music along their journeys.
The Music Bugle had the chance to chat with Toujours about their new release and more.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Joy Toujours – I had just printed my Flexi promo single and was about to print the EP vinyl and tour with it, but both of those activities have been postponed because of COVID. I outfitted a van to live in while on a permanent tour and so I am still traveling, even though there are no shows. Currently, I’m in Vegas and headed towards the ocean.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your particular genre?
Joy Toujours – If you accept my genre as experimental post folk, then my favorite part is the experimental part. I feel great freedom in being able to produce a joy song that is almost country in flavor, followed by another that has a violin foundation sprouting noisy limbs of samples, power tools and effects.
Music Bugle – What would you say is the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make, as far as your music career goes?
Joy Toujours – I can’t tell if I’m lucky I have not come across this situation yet or if it is a sign I’m doing something wrong.
Music Bugle – What inspired your idea for the “Giving Tree” music video?
Joy Toujours – “Giving Tree” is about those relationships you give everything to and receive nothing in return. While I originally wrote it about a lover who consciously took advantage of me, the video explores my relationship in a work setting. It was filmed at a nightclub called Belvederes in Pittsburgh that I started and ran for 15 years until COVID shut us down. While the years and especially the people involved were incredible and there are many highlights to this chapter of my life, work can and most frequently becomes an abusive relationship of taking from you without giving back. When the timing allows, I hope everyone can find the opportunity to leave relationships that do not give back.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your ‘Postjoy’ EP?
Joy Toujours – Honestly, beautiful. I was experiencing a unique burst of free time and stability and started investing it in myself and creating what made me happy. Working with Mike from Electric Eye in Pgh has been my favorite recording experience from about a dozen recordings so far. He has a beautiful home studio setup and is beyond professional, but also fun and has a story or two. My favorite was when he met Roy Orbison.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Pittsburgh to someone who has never been there before?
Joy Toujours – A magical place that you can quickly fall in love with and allow a decade or two to pass before you realize you have forgotten what sunshine is. Some of the best people I’ve met in the world, with so much potential, however, frequently dormant.
Music Bugle – What has been the most unique show you have ever played?
Joy Toujours – I love a unique show. I’ve played under a bridge by a riverboat town, had a drummer in a sailboat, even had a bouncy castle on stage with me. I have played everywhere from a baseball field in Mazatlan, Mexico to busking the streets of Europe. Most unique of all though, was probably a show under the Bloomfield Bridge in Pittsburgh. I set up the PA system to play only through a pirate radio setup, so the audience had to bring an FM radio and listen to it in their lap if they wanted to hear it.
Music Bugle – What made you want to do a cover of Cher’s “Bang Bang I Shot You Down” for your EP?
Joy Toujours – I am not fond of covers in general. No specific reasoning why I feel that way, it just normally doesn’t feel right to me. I do, however, like exploring the world of covers. I have a DJ setlist dedicated to songs people may not know are actually covers, like how “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” was originally done by a man and how “Hey Mickey” was originally “Hey Kitty.” I exploring “Bang Bang,” I learned that Cher had done it and I fell in love with the original version. There was a ton of other versions, however, no non-binary ones, so I decided to make sure there was a version out there that had they/them pronouns.
Music Bugle – Where would you say has been your favorite place to travel?
Joy Toujours – Cuba was surreal. I have hopped freight trains around several countries and even rode a training barge across the Gulf of Mexico, but the ultimate goal was to ride caboose. I was finally able to do this in Cuba. There was a worker on it, but when my friends and I explained it was our dream, he allowed us passage with him. It was a beautiful night. The sky that night had more stars than I previously knew existed.
Music Bugle – What do you consider your biggest source of inspiration, generally speaking?
Joy Toujours – Travel. I have never been good at sitting still. I sort of need to be traveling. When I’m not traveling, I tend not to be very creative. Please understand I don’t mean tourism. There is a big difference and I do not find inspiration from tourism.