Joseph Freeman blasts off

by Jaclyn Diaz / Beacon Staff • February 16, 2012

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Joseph Freeman’s music spans the purely joyous to the carefully introspective.
Joseph Freeman’s music spans the purely joyous to the carefully introspective.

Though Joseph Freeman’s recent album release keeps an airy tone as his characters “tiger kick” their way through the galaxy, the Emerson comedian’s motivations for the quirky creation comes from an unexpectedly personal and cathartic place.

A songwriter and musician for about eight years, the junior performing arts major recently lent his combination of musical talent and lighthearted humor to the creation of his brainchild, The Space EP.

The six-track, outlandish creation tells the story of humans Gavin and Michelle as they travel through space to visit the Planet Glorp. The creation of the EP stems from Freeman’s secret yearning to develop a concept album as well as his relentless tenacity for making music.

When Emerson College closed for winter break in December 2011, Freeman returned home to Atlanta, Ga., where he knew he would become stir crazy. To prevent complete insanity, Freeman came up with an idea called Project 22, for which he assigned himself to write, record, and mix a song each of the days he would spend at home. Although productive at first, by day six Freeman was exhausted. 

“I said, ‘I don’t … want to do this anymore,’” he said. “I was forced to improvise and just started vomiting out ideas.” The regurgitation of creativity eventually resulted in four songs that formed the basis for the EP.

“The four songs all had a similar sound,” he said. “I thought, ‘This sounds like space. Let’s go.’”

Two additional tracks filled out the track list once Freeman returned to campus. All of the instrumentals were recorded at first take, Freeman said. Voice recordings by Benjamin Kabialis, a junior writing, literature, and publishing major and a Beacon theater columnist, and Michelle Roginsky, a junior visual and media arts and performing arts double major, were added later.

Freeman had no intention of ever releasing his creation. However, after showing his hometown friend, Andrew Dohono, the track “Blast Off,” he was pushed to release it as a free download online. Although admittedly unusual, The Space EP is all about fun.

“It came from a place of pure leisure and joy,” Freeman said. The EP was a necessary therapy, as Freeman’s current work, a full length album entitled Joseph Freeman, is consuming all of his time, creativity, and sanity.

“Without a doubt, it was the most self-fulfilling thing to release all emotion and stress,” he said.

The planned 10-track album will include vocals and instrumentals all done by the solo artist. If The Space EP was about fun and release, the full-length will certainly take a more reflective turn.

The album, set to be released later this semester, will more directly look at Freeman’s emotional core, detailing his relationship with his father as well as ex-girlfriends.        

Although Freeman describes the connection with his father, a fellow songwriter, as “friendly competition,” he admits that even this kinship has its dark tendencies at times.  The relationships with his ex-girlfriends, on the other hand, is another entirely unfriendly issue.

“Once those girls hear these songs they’ll know they’re about them,” he said. “I’m pretty sure all three of them will never talk to me again.”

The self-titled LP strays away from the synthesizers and will rely on guitar ballads, an orchestral instrumental track, and several old-fashioned pop-rock/alternative songs.

“Think Weezer plus Death Cab plus Say Anything plus more Weezer,” Freeman said.

Freeman says making music has always been a therapeutic experience.

“The process is so cathartic, traumatic, happy, blissful at times,” he said.

In one particular incident during his time in high school, Freeman sought this therapy when a fellow classmate and friend, Courtney Doyle, died from cancer. As Freeman and other friends gathered to share in their grief he brought his guitar along. Together, he and his friends created the song, “Hey Courtney,” an ode to the girl they knew and loved.

As Freeman continues work with the full-length album, he still revels in the release that was The Space EP.

“It’s an expression of complete release and I don’t care if anyone likes it,” he said.

Although he admits his fear of what people may think of the eventual release of his album, Freeman is certain of one thing,

“I am going to keep making albums ‘til the goddamn day I die.”