Joseph: Getting Honest in a Hundred Ways

What initially started as a struggling solo career has blossomed into a harmonious family affair between the sisters of the band Joseph, comprising Natalie Closner and younger twin sisters Meegan and Allison. In fact, though they formed their group just a few short years ago, in 2014, the Portland, OR natives are now well on their way to becoming an iconic trio.

Prior to the August 2016 release of sophomore album I’m Alone, No You’re Not, Joseph garnered considerable attention with only one release under its belt. The trio was named a 2016 Spotify Spotlight artist and nabbed a No. 1 radio spot on Billboard's Adult Alternative Songs for the infectious single, "White Flag," off of the sophomore album. They also scored various live television performances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and more.

Music Connection first stumbled upon Joseph when they toured with James Bay almost a year ago. To kick off the New Year, the Closner sisters have embarked on a tour in support of I’m Alone, No You’re Not, with a three-week run in Europe and now taking on the U.S. through mid-Summer. Though Joseph is currently on the rise to stardom, there are still a few tips and tricks they’re picking up along the way, and MC had the pleasure of a casual and candid conversation with Natalie while the busy band traveled by van to Athens, GA.

Music Connection: How has the tour been treating you?
Natalie Closner: It’s been a great tour so far. We were able to start out with three weeks in Europe, which was astounding. It’s just wild to go to a completely different country and have 100 to 800 people show up for you and connect with those people because they have an appreciation for how far you’ve come. Getting to know them and hanging out at the merch table afterwards is special. Now we are back in the States, and it’s been incredible to see what the record’s been doing and how many people it brings out here. It’s humbling and really fun.

MC: What preparations did you make to ensure a smooth tour?
Closner: The first run was just the three of us and our tour manager. We fine-tuned the set and tried to figure out a way to have a good arc for our set. As a trio sometimes it can be almost soft and flowy, so we spent a lot of time making sure that that had really good dynamics to it. We came back, we had rehearsals with our band, we had two days and rented out a space and changed a couple of arrangements that I thought weren’t working on the last run. Actually, we just recorded the last show to listen back and see what we can fine tune, and we’re working through those things in conversations today!

MC: Do you always record your performances and listen back at them?
Closner: Actually, no. I was talking with our bass player and music director, Brian Kesley, asking him what we could do to bring it to the next level, and recording a show was his suggestion. This is the first time we’ve done it and it’s super illuminating, honestly. To listen back and realize how something’s coming across or how you perceive it in the moment, now we want to instate that as our regular plan.

MC: We first saw you when you opened for James Bay last year in L.A. What do you recall about that show?
Closner: Absolutely incredible. That was a really special night. It broke a ceiling for us. We learned so much. He had a natural, distinct openness with us; he was open about sharing his experiences and letting us pick his brain about it. It was a huge learning experience just to see how what we do goes at that level. Simple things and not simple things about what it’s like to be on a tour bus to something as grand as how he shapes his set and how he interacts with the audience. The confidence about him, we soaked it all up. Not to mention he and his team are some of the best in the business—they’re so warm-hearted and kind—and we felt we made friends through that as well.

MC: What brought about the opportunity to perform with him?
Closner: We played a show with the promoter Communion in London for our first time [there]. James’ girlfriend, Lucy, who’s amazing, is part of that group, and she was the one putting on the show, and it was in this tiny, tiny little spot called The Slaughtered Lamb. It fit maybe 90 people, and she texted him that night and said, “You’re gonna love these girls. You should make an offer for your U.S. tour.” So we have her to thank for that.

MC: At the L.A. show we saw, your stage setup was stripped down—three vocals, acoustic guitar and bass kick drum. Is that the same for this tour?
Closner: No! Now that we are touring in the States, the album itself has a way broader palate of sounds and textures, so we’re thrilled to bring a band with us. We still have a part of the set every night that’s just the three of us, just ‘cause that’s who we are—that’s the backbone. It’s so thrilling to get to have a broader dynamic spectrum. Having percussion and textures like a pedal steel and a bass, you can get huge and it makes those quiet moments even more dramatic.

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