Seattle-based violinist/composer Andrew Joslyn has toured the world on the strength of his playing. He is most definitely a musician. But the prolific artist could easily have been the world’s most accomplished juggler.
Sitting across a table from him in West Seattle’s cozy Uptown Espresso, plans, words, and ideas tumble out of his mouth at an amazing rate—objectives he seems to keep afloat, bouncing in midair—but they aren’t just wishes, they’re descriptions of the many actual projects he has his hands on.
Joslyn, who will debut his first full-length record, Awake at the Bottom of the Ocean, on Friday and celebrate it with a concert in conjunction with Seattle Secret Shows on Sat., Feb. 18, also just finished scoring his first feature film, American Violence, starring Bruce Dern and NFL player Rob Gronkowski. “It was such intense work that I got tendinitis in both hands,” says Joslyn, who is also getting married to his fiancée in August. “I was putting in 14- to 16-hour workdays to pull it off. Some parts I had to record 80 times each for the big sound the director was looking for.”
For many, these professional accomplishments would be enough. But not for Joslyn. He has to keep working, collaborating—hustling the chaos of his life into laser-focused songs, some of which are so packed with swells and sways they almost feel unreal. “I’m a workaholic,” he says, “I’m only happy when I’m working.”
As a working artist, stress is always part of the job. But stress, confusion, and loss found Joslyn in his private life, too. About two years ago, an apartment fire took almost everything he and his then-girlfriend, singer Suzy Sun, owned—even their cat. “When it rains, it pours,” he says, shaking his head. And after the fire—and subsequent insurance claims and attempts to re-collect their lives—Joslyn and Sun ended their relationship, strained in part by Joslyn’s constant touring with the likes of Macklemore and Dave Bazan.
But now, perhaps, all this struggle is paying off in terms of clarity and direction—thanks in large part to Awake. “I’ve always been beholden to someone else’s schedule,” says Joslyn of his musical collaborations. “But I owe so much to this record. I don’t know if people are going to like it or not, but during these past few years, I just needed to make it.”
Awake recalls the virtuosity of baroque pop violinist Andrew Bird and the springs and dives of a Mozart concerto, and brings a curious, self-investigative quality unique to Joslyn. This is evident immediately in the record’s first song, featuring vocalist Will Jordan—one of the many exquisite guest singers, including Adra Boo and Shelby Earl. Jordan sings, raspy and wondering, “We’re all living for that royal grace, that special place, that plastic heaven.” The standout track, though, might be “I Should Have Said Goodbye Before I Met You,” an emotionally remorseful song featuring Sun’s lamenting vocals.
And while the release of Awake is a point of excitement for Joslyn, his focus, as always, remains on the next ball in the air. “I want to write a new record and have my wedding be the release party,” he grins. “Almost like a music festival where we’ll give the album out to all our attendees. I really want to do that, to make something beautiful.” Out Fri., Feb. 10 via soundcloud.com/Andrew-joslyn-music