Brendan: Hey, everyone. Brendan the Blind Guy here. Today I'm lucky enough to be speaking to Josef from Amistat who's taking the world by storm with their beautiful, unique, soulful folk sound. How are you, Josef?
Josef: I'm doing well, thank you. How are you, Brendan?
Brendan: I'm very well, thank you. Very well. So, first up, I want to talk about your new heartfelt single full of raw, honest emotions, The Coward. Now, first off, I'm gonna say I can't imagine you're a coward, just ... I'm guessing you've just never been tested.
Josef: That was a good one, Brendan.
Brendan: Thank you. Thank you. Last minute little bit of a pun. So I want to kind of talk about the story behind it. I know the general gist of it, but I can't imagine everyone does. So, it's a very, as I said, raw, emotive, very soulful, passionate song. So take us through the story of it and how you came down the road for making it.
Josef: I play music with my brother Jan and then we write music separately. Jan wrote that song, The Coward, and we just ... He said just said coward to a friend, I think they were travelling up to Sydney almost a year ago. They were talking about something, and then my friend just ... They were talking about a topic and my friend just mentioned to remind him, "Yeah, I'm not a coward. I've just never been tested," and it stuck in my brother's head. Later on, he started writing lyrics and he said, "Oh, I've got this idea for this song called The Coward and then somehow, you're not able to express who you are and show people who you are, 'cause, I don't know, maybe you're not confident enough or you somehow never had that chance."
So, that's sort of the idea behind the song. Later on, we just sat down and started working on the melody and put the lyrics together, and that's sort of the idea behind the song. Especially, our brother sings strongly like that, that he somehow always likes to use ... He couldn't somehow express who he is or fully let that side out for people to see, so that was sort of how this song came about.
Brendan: Something that a lot of people can relate to, especially with today's society.
Brendan: Because as we all know, that society tells you to do or be one thing when, if it's not, and then you, you know ... classic case of peer pressure.
Josef: I reckon people are ... we're scared of being judged, you know, and that's why most people probably don't let their emotions out and show who they are, 'cause they're just being scared of being hurt and being judged, so they actually care. Like you said, it's probably a common thing. I can see with a lot of my friends and the people that I meet, it's just hard for them to be themselves 'cause then ... It's a jungle out there. Let's put it that way Brendan.
Brendan: Yep, yep. So, next, you're ... the beautiful video that goes with this song. I was watching it and it's very visually interpretive of the music and the lyrics, so it kind of paints a word description for the listeners of what the video is about before they go and check it, because I'm sure they're going to follow my advice and go and check it. So, do it people. And so kind of go through the story of the video clip and how you made it.
Josef: We had this song ready to go and we wanted to really sing to the art and alongside with it, so we had to set down ... we set down the words just thinking what could represent the song the best when you plan the video. I like it when we listen to the song and sort of makes sense with the video, it paints a picture or tell the story. We just sat down with Jan and were thinking about the concept and we were planning for a long time.
I think the final concept was set yet when we decided to sort rebuild this story about a soldier who's being denied going to war. So you want to show who you are, but they didn’t want you or they didn't let you, so you just feel upset and you feel like you didn’t have that chance to show your family or your friends or your loved ones who you are and that you've been waiting for this moment, and just has not happened for you. So yeah, we shot it down in the Mornington Peninsula I think in place called Flinders. It was perfect for that time[inaudible 00:04:58] ... and did it all in one day. We had an amazing experience and I think we captured something really special.
So yeah, I'm sure when people watched the video, they feel that and they will understand the song more, I think.
Brendan: Yeah. Well as I said, it's very visually interpretative and very accurate to the lyrics, so you did well describing visually how the lyrics of the song. So-
Josef: Great, beautiful.
Brendan: So, you've not long been back in Australia since going back to Europe to do a sold out tour. So I wanna know ... I love asking people what their opinion, European and other international crowds versus Australian crowds are like. Kinda tell us your experiences on that amazing tour.
Josef: Well, that's a tough one. I think I'll just start with Australia crowds then. People in Australia are exposed to a lot of music I think, and there's a lot of music everywhere, whether it's in the streets or there's live music going on basically every night of the week. Whereas in Europe, I think, music is, you are not as exposed. You wouldn't go to a live concert necessarily during the week. I think it's something kind of a bit more special if you go to a live concert. That does not happen all the time, so when you go, you're really excited when, I think ... It's just something that's rare, whereas in Australia I think there's just more live music happening and everyone's exposed to it more. So that's probably the main difference.
I find that the Australian crowds or European crowds they're all ... at the end of the day, if you're able to catch in crowd, they will enjoy it either way. Respectful in Australia, respectful in Europe, so yeah. I only have good things to say about that.
Brendan: That's great.
Josef: Yep, yep.
Brendan: I'm glad it went well for you. And [crosstalk 00:07:13] some amazing exposure and selling out the tour, that's an amazing milestone.
Josef: Yeah it was good. We sold out a few bigger venues and then we played a few intimate house concerts as well, which has been awesome just to sort of go from a bigger room to a smaller living room audience. Having those two sides, I think that's what you want as a musician, to have it versatile and yet, just to not have the fame all the time. Yeah, it was amazing. Europe was absolutely incredible. So good times, good times.
Brendan: Nice. And there's more good times yet to come in the near future heading out to your East Coast tour, which I will be at the Newcastle show observing and-
Josef: Oh, beautiful.
Brendan: Yeah. So-
Josef: Oh cool. I'll call Les to put you in the door. I'll have to remember that. Put you on the door-
Brendan: Already done, already done. I'm all over that.
Brendan: Yep, yep. Your PR was lovely enough to invite me along, so-
Josef: Oh yeah, Emily. Yeah.
Brendan: Yeah, definitely had to-
Josef: Beautiful, she's on top of it.
Brendan: Yeah, definitely.
Josef: Good, good. Yeah.
Brendan: Yeah, so I'm very keen to check your performances out and yeah. So paint a bit of a word picture of what your performance is like and what you go for at a show, kind of touching on sound quality, crowd interactions, and I've read that you have a bit of a cheeky sense of humour, do a lot of emotive storytelling, and ... yeah, so paint us a bit of a word picture of what your shows are like and what we can expect at your shows.
Josef: Well, for me and my brother, it's very important that when you play live music to people that you sort of give them a little bit of a look on the insight of addressing who's behind the music. That's really, really important for Jan and I. So every show, it's a lot of talking, a lot of telling about how the songs happen, the stories behind the song, the meaning behind the song ... Yeah, we always just try and go out and connect with the audience.
I think it's really important, I think a lot of artists nowadays, I think they just stand on stage and they play three, four songs together and then say a thing or say things in between. I find it hard to connect to that. I love when I go to a concert and the artist is somehow able to tell me a bit more about what's going on when he's writing music or when he's playing music, and I walk away and I feel like I know a bit more about that person, which makes it more interesting for me.
For me and Jan, it's just very important that we give the people a bit of background about who we are, what we do, and just sort of involve them in the performance. I mean, we're all locked into one room. So it's not even about us, it's more like sharing the music, sharing that piece together. So that’s the main thing for us and I think Amistat shows are 50% talking and 50% music, let's put it that way. Talk to people who are not all about music, but also about being entertained? I think Amistat shows are perfect.
Brendan: Oh wow. Yeah, well-
Josef: And I always, always try to keep it a bit cheeky. That's just who I am, so there's always a few stories and a few moments where it gets a bit awkward, but that's what I love, 'cause that really somehow creates something magic in the room. When you push through that, it's really like, yeah. Something special happens every time, yeah.
Brendan: Yeah, well it adds a bit of personality and spice.
Josef: Yes, yes.
Brendan: I completely agree. I hate it when I ... 'cause I go to concerts all the time and review them, and so I hate it when, yeah, they're just still on stage, just playing the music, and yes it might sound great and it's like ... it's no different to cranking it up on my stereo at home-
Brendan: ... because you're just standing there, strumming it out, singing, and you might only say, "Thank you," in between the song. It doesn't make it special and unique.
Josef: That's it. Like you said, you don't wanna just listen to the music because you can hear it at home. You want that special element that makes you wanna go out and pay 30, 40, 50 dollars for a ticket. So that difference is ... yeah, you give people a bit more. You entertain and you tell them a bit and talk to them. I think that's real important and rare to find. I think that's a niche. Yeah, I think that's what Amistat has and what I have to do, and I think that's our biggest strength. That we talk to people and connect with them. Not only the musical side, but on the emotional side as people.
Brendan: Very intimate and connected with your fans, so that's great. That's exactly what I look for at shows, so I'm very keen to check you out.
Josef: Beautiful. We're looking forward to having you there and meeting in person.
Brendan: Yep, and don't get your hopes up. My mug's not that pretty. You know, don't expect a Brad Pitt walking in there or anything.
Josef: Look, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so yeah. I'm sure you're good looking, eh Brendan?
Brendan: Don't worry, I'll do my makeup and wear my best for you.
Josef: Just keep it real. Don't worry, just come the way you are and I'm sure it'll be perfect.
Brendan: Okay, well I'll strip the makeup off then.
Josef: Yes, done. Done.
Brendan: So, okay. I know predominately Amistat is just you and your brother Jan. So with your live performance, is it just you and Jan on stage or do you accompany a few other sounds?
Josef: Yeah. For the past two and a half years, we've been playing music and also with Julian. Julian's the one who press channels and joining us for most of our live shows and then yeah. So he's been a great addition. He brings so much to the band and a very special person and it's very special when we're all on stage playing music together. And for even bigger shows, especially for this tour coming up, riding over with us is a good friend and incredible musician, and that will ... he’s playing a bit of percussions and some synth stuff on the piano, so yeah. It will be a bigger sound this time and we’ve added a few different elements as well.
So for people who have seen us before, it'll be a bit different. We're excited to sort of show people a new style of Amistat.
Brendan: Yeah, nice. Well you've gotta mix things up and keep it fresh, so that's-
Josef: Yep, you gotta keep inspiring yourself and keep reinventing and moving forward. So exciting, exciting times. We're looking forward to play live again, especially in Australia. It's been a while. Yeah, east coast. I love the east coast. Especially Byron and Brisbane ... I love those places. So combine pleasure with a bit of work, let's put it that way.
Josef: We're looking forward to it.
Brendan: Yeah, well yeah. People, go to Amistat's website or Facebook page and grab your tickets. The tour starts off in Melbourne on the 2nd of December.
Josef: [inaudible 00:15:32]
Brendan: Yep, wow. That's come across really, really quickly. And it also finishes at Woodford Folk Festival, I think that's in Brisbane, is it not?
Josef: That’s it, yes.
Brendan: Cool, so plenty of opportunities to catch 'em on the road people, so check 'em out.
Cool, so moving right along. So everyone, you've probably noticed that Josef has a beautiful German accent. So they have actually moved over from Germany back in 2012. I wanna know kind of your story of how you came to the choice of to move over to Australia and pursue a music career over here.
Josef: Dad's from Sydney and works in Sydney, so I've already got Aussie passports. Growing up, dad always used to tell us all, "Go to Australia, the best country in the world." So we had to come see it firsthand, and yeah. We backpacked through Australia back in 2010 and fell in love with Australia, and then went back home. Jan was teaching golf for a while and I was not doing much else, just lost a bit.
I decided to come here and I got a year before Jan did. So I got here and I started working and I started busking. It was going really well and I called Jan. I spoke to him frequently and I told him that yeah, I just quit my job to do music full time, and he said he'd love to join. We never really had the chance to ... whenever would give music a priority that we would just give music 100% of our time. So that felt like ... that moment, and then we chose to follow that and move here and we were sort of trial and erroring it, just seeing what was gonna happen. Five years later, we're still doing it, and I think we'll be doing it until the day we die.
Brendan: I hope so.
Josef: Yeah. We're really, really, really grateful to be in Australia. It's an amazing country. It's had a lot of opportunities for us and yeah, it just started everything. We had no songs, we had no experience, we were ... I wasn't even playing any music I was just singing. So yeah, we did a lot of hard work over the last five years and it's been quite a journey and yeah, we've really ... just really grateful that we can do what we do day in and day out.
Brendan: Yeah. Nice. Just out of curiosity, the name Amistat. What does it mean and where did you get it from?
Josef: It means friendship in the old Spanish language, Catalan. It means friendship, but it also means am I set, am I present, am I in the moment, am I right now. And how did we find that name? I'm not sure if you know the band The Fray?
Josef: Yep. So they've got a song that we listened to for a long time, then we were sort of sitting in the car wondering about what name we were gonna pick for the band. That name sort of popped up in one of their songs. We looked it up and yeah, found out that it means friendship and it had not been used for a band before, so we just decided to roll with it and use that for the band name. That was the perfect fit.
Brendan: Yeah well, it's very suitable for the new song, The Coward. Am I living in the moment? Am I being who I am? And the connection you have with your brother. You know, you're not just twins, I can imagine you're friends as well.
Josef: Yeah. Jan and me we spend a lot of time together, obviously, and yeah. Like when there's been times where there's no one, there was always us, so we share something really special and I think that comes through the music and when we see it ... you'll see it live as well. It's just something you can't really describe in words. You just have to see it. If there's any twins out there listening, they will know. I think everyone who has siblings, I think you can be really close with them as well, but being a twin is a very special thing.
Brendan: Wow. Very good. So you've having an amazing journey so far since 2012 and it's just getting warmed up. You've performed over in Europe as well as over here. What's been the highlight for you guys?
Josef: So many highlights, so many special moments. I think ... My personal highlight, which might be different to my brother's, I really, really enjoyed being in Europe this year. That was really special for various reasons, but that was probably my ... that's actually a highlight this far. The tour was amazing, met some amazing people, and there was a lot of people at the shows, the band was working well together, we were making enough money, the weather was perfect. It was just the place to be at the right time. So Europe this year was my personal highlight. Not only on the music and professional side of things, but personally as well.
In the five year journey so far, that's been my highlight. And also going back home for the first time. Really getting a lot of support from friends and family. It bothered us for a long time, and they didn't really understand what we were doing and what we were trying to get across with the music. This time they really seemed to understand why we were doing and the journey that we're on, and yeah. That was just really good to feel that support. All around, just amazing couple of months over there.
Brendan: Awesome. So on the flip side. You've had some amazing highlights, but what's been the biggest challenge for you guys in your career so far?
Josef: I think keeping on going, I think, every single day that's the biggest challenge every day that you're facing. Just believing in yourself, staying true to yourself, not getting distracted. Just being focused on your goal and enjoying it as well. Not just looking at your goals and forgetting where you are and yeah. Just being respected and not aiming to enjoy it right now because your focuses in the future, I think. Yeah.
It's just believing in yourself and keep on going, I think that's the toughest thing every day. So you wake up every day and it's a fight with yourself and you again have to retrain your brain to keep it positive, for it to keep believing in yourself, and to work hard, and yeah. I think that's the biggest challenge. That makes it so much more real and exciting because every day, you've got to fight for it again. It's not like you had it one day and the next day you can lean back and enjoy what you've earned or what you've worked for.
I think every day, again, you've gotta work hard and you've gotta get better at what you do and, yeah. Just move forward and believe in yourself and not let other people distract you. So again, I think that's the biggest challenge of being a musician. Yeah.
Brendan: Yeah. Well, that's a massive challenge in pretty much whatever profession you're in, not just music, but especially for music where you've gotta be at the top of your game and you've just gotta keep moving forward because, you know, so much competition out there.
Josef: That's it. Yep, yep. [crosstalk 00:24:15] yeah, you've just gotta believe in yourself and know that what you do is your path and what anyone else does, their journey has nothing to do with you and where you are.
Josef: I think if you do that, and whatever category in life, I think you can’t go wrong where you just kind of listen to the other voices. Now why do it and what are you doing it for? Everything else, I think, is easy.
Brendan: Yeah. Well that's been a great answer because it's really two answers of your biggest challenge and advice to people wanting to follow a music career. So two birds, one stone right there. Well done.
Josef: Perfect. Perfect, yeah. Well, maybe I'll ... yeah. Especially to musicians I think when we meet with everything, you've just gotta work on something that's unique and something that stands out. So don't try to copy what's already been done. Sit down and work on what's in you. I think everyone's got a gift to share, especially being a musician. You've just gotta listen to the music within, and that's really hard 'cause there's so much music that obviously influenced by other artists. But when you sit down and you write your own or you play your own music, I think it's really important you listen to what's in there and that you stick to that and stick to what's unique. I think that's ultimately get you to the mountain top.
So yeah, for everyone out there, I think that's the goal. Just be unique, just be yourself. Yeah, I think people will love it and appreciate real and honest and authentic music, I think. You carry along. Yeah.
Brendan: Yeah, very inspirational and yeah. So out of all the experiences you've had on the road so far ... I love asking this question because ... Get ready, because I love asking this because I get some really odd answers, really interesting answers. Out of all your experiences, all of your stories along the road so far, which one ... or which one or two comes to mind if I say, kind of, hilarious, WTF, oh my god?
Josef: We went around Australia, I think that was last year or the year before, I think 2015. And we've gotta yellow van at home and it's a really old car it’s done way over half a million k’s. At the beginning of the journey, the brakes stopped working, so we were to go all the way up to Sydney and Brisbane, and the brakes had just stopped working. Being a musician, you haven't got a lot of money and you haven't got a lot of time, so we just had to roll with it. So we actually go from Sydney up to Brisbane and all the way back again. For about a month, we were just braking with our hand brake.
And on top of that, the budget was really low and everything was pretty tight. We slept in this park at night by that ... My brother started to lose his sight, so we had to get his eyesight checked out, and yeah. We had to go to like a private doctor because it had to be that day because we had to be up to the next city the following day.
So yeah, I think that cost us like the last money. So we had like five or six dollars left, I remember, and we were hungry. We wanted to go and eat something and we had six dollars, so that was one of those moments where you sit there and you’re like, "Oh my god, what am I doing here? How am I gonna get out of this?”
Josef: Surely we got out of it and we're still here. So yeah, that was probably the lowest Amistat's been. It's also the happiest. We just sat back and were laughing for about half an hour 'cause it was just ... when you cry, you laugh and so ... Just to be positive and move forward and ... Yeah, that was ... wow, what a trip. What a trip.
Brendan: Wow, that would've been quite scary. Yeah.
Josef: Yeah. Thankfully it was ... as scary as it sounds now, we weren't really worried about it. It's just in that moment, we just ... you don't worry, you just ... I think that everything's already gone as wrong as it could possibly go. So yeah, you just let it all go and you just move forward. As funny as that sounds, I think, what is the worst? We actually don't even think that's how bad it is because right there, in that moment, all you have is ... you’re either gonna curl up in a ball ... and wait for someone to help or rescue you, or you just sort of somehow get yourself out of that. So I think we made the right choice, we just rolled with it and everything turned out to be fine. But that was quite a trip, to be honest. Yeah.
Brendan: Yeah. Wow. Well done. Great attitude and great outlook to have on that. So yeah. So keep that in mind people. If you do ever go on a massive road trip and your brakes just fail, just roll with it. Just roll with it, just keep going, and-
Josef: That's it.
Brendan: Yeah. Just do the Madagascar penguin. Just smile and wave, boys. Just smile and wave.
Josef: Happy for them to call me. Happy for you to pass 'em out, but it's in that situation they need someone to talk to them and calm them down, happy to be that person. [inaudible 00:30:22]
Brendan: Yep. Okay, so one last question. It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you today. But we've gotta wrap it up for you. Gotta wrap it up here. Finally, kind of what's happening behind the scenes with your music and your career and where is your ... where's Amistat kind of heading in the near future? What juicy details can you give us?
Josef: Behind the scenes at the moment, we're just working on new music. We're gonna be releasing ... recording new music start of the year, so we've just been working on getting the songs ready. And in the near future, I think in May, we might be heading over to Europe again for a tour again. This time probably Germany and maybe even the UK, and other parts of Europe. So that's to come in 2018.
Yeah, that's all of that’s been happening, just planning 2018 really.
Brendan: Lots of exciting stuff coming in the near horizons from Amistat. So keep an eye out people and catch 'em on the road in December. So it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you again. So-
Josef: Thanks so much for having me.
Brendan: Yeah. No worries, and I'll-
Josef: [crosstalk 00:31:45]
Brendan: Can't wait to check you out in Newcastle in a couple of weeks and wow, that's coming around so quickly.
Josef: Yeah, yeah. I'll see you there if the brakes don't fail again, but I'm sure I'll move forward again and I'm sure we'll meet you there. With no makeup, hopefully.
Brendan: Well, I mean I wanna look my best. Come on. Nah. Well I'll just come as I am, yeah.
Josef: Whatever makes you feel comfortable, Brendan. I'll be looking forward to meeting you there at the night.
Brendan: Awesome. Look forward to it. Have a great one and I'll see you soon.
Josef: You too. All the best. Thanks so much again for having us.
Brendan: Thank you. Bye.
Josef: No worries. Bye.