Independent artist Johanna Mäkilä-Manninen, colloquially known as JOEM, began her musical journey as a saxophone player. During her studies in the Conservatory and University of Helsinki, JOEM slowly transitioned from saxophone to singing and songwriting due to a long period of chronic neuropathic pain in the arms.
Through her trials and tribulations of living with physical pain and depression, she was led to take charge of her childhood dream; creating musical content.
In JOEM’s enigmatic release of her latest single, “Copper Ground,” the delicate yet prevailing vocals that pour from JOEM’s inner emotion set the raw, sentimental tone for the mind-altering tunes that lay before us. Treating her musicality as a therapeutic process in which to sprout the roots of healing, JOEM fixates her attention on inventiveness paired with intentionality in the melodic tunes that she brings forth.
“Copper Ground,” delves into the delightful timbres that JOEM has radiating from deep within. The extensive vocal range demonstrated allows harmonious bliss to overflow from the graceful notes that she performs for her listeners to hear in the forefront of her heartfelt anthem.
In the intricate lyrical storytelling that JOEM brings to life with her carefully crafted words, JOEM reminisces about a deep love that shook her to her core, and the aftermath that comes with experiencing such a thing. As she gently creates a soundscape that has us all floored with her meticulous melodies, we sink into the abstract motif that is irradiated from her artistic talents.
JOEM has listeners pressing rewind as they go back to take in the full concepts laying in, “Copper Ground.” With this tune sitting heavy on our minds and hearts, we patiently await her next release.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, JOEM! Congratulations on the release of your latest single, “Copper Ground.” Could you please shine a light on how the lyrical content was inspired for this single?
Thank you! Well, the title of the song came to be back in 2018 when I thought of an idea to write a song that has a lot of visual images inspired by autumn and the colorful, falling leaves, and the coming winter's coldness.
Somehow I ended up writing the song a year later, during autumn 2019. The rich tapestry of colors and textures outside combined with the warm feelings of falling in love really inspired me further. Imagination plays a key role especially in the chorus where liquid gold (yellow leaves) drip onto the ground where I'm seeing the one I love.
Lately, I've been on a journey of slowing down to allow for healing, creativity, and joy to be more a part of my daily life, so this song is also about really feeling through all of your senses and being present, which isn't even possible for me if I'm constantly tense and stressed out. I had to go through a long period of chronic pain in the arms, and breaking down because of it, to see how hard I've been on myself. I'm still learning to be more nurturing with myself.
How important is it for you to be vulnerable with your audience when creating music?
Extremely important! Vulnerability is at the core of my creativity. I've shared my pain points, such as my story with chronic pain, acne, bullying, etc. with my audience on Instagram and in my songs because I really believe that to be able to heal, we need to bring these things to light (and help others in the process). Shame can only exist in the shadows. While this song is more of a happy, romantic song, the story behind it includes my struggle with giving grace to myself and just leaning into peace.
Creating hasn’t been as easy for some artists through the events of 2020, leading into 2021. Were there any challenges that you had to face when creating, “Copper Ground.” What was the process like for you?
2020 was a challenging year, for sure. For me, the challenges had to do with health and the neuropathic pain I mentioned before coming back, so that I had to slow down, again. Also, financial challenges were naturally part of last year. All of these put off the release of the song for a later date. On the other hand, last year brought more clarity to my vision for my artistry than any other year. I journaled a lot, which helped me see that I want to highlight this sort of romantic, cinematic enchantment as my 'brand' as a recovering perfectionist for those of us who also need a beautiful place to recover.
With your passion for singing in different languages, can we expect to hear a bilingual song any time soon?
Ah yes, I really enjoy singing in different languages, it's so much fun! Even as a kid, I preferred any other language to my own (Finnish). I've actually been balling with the idea of writing a bilingual song, but so far it just hasn't happened yet. Maybe I'll surprise you later this year!
What can we expect to see next from you?
So what's next for me is more songwriting, recording my next single (due later this Spring!), and hopefully some international collaborations! I hope to be able to build momentum enough to soon start creating an album. And I want to get back to doing live shows, hopefully, that'll be possible soon. I'm quite active over on Instagram, so join the #enchantedfam over there! I'd love to connect with you there.