We had the good fortune of connecting with Joey Aich and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joey, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risks are everything for me. I’m the type of person who thrives when I’m faced with uncertainty. It brings everything out of me, which in some instances things I didn’t know I had myself. I truly believe in the trial and error method and failures or losses should be treated as lessons or teaching moments. To me, risks allow me/us to try new things or live outside of our comfort zone and expose us to those teaching moments. My biggest fear is 15/20 years from now, I think “damn, I really should have took a chance and did that,” or realizing a fear of mine held me back from progression. On top of that, I get bored when I win too much, or if something doesn’t challenge me. The thrill of a good “what if” excites me and ultimately makes me better.
Most of my career has been full of risks. In 2016, right before I graduated from Denison University, while my classmates were looking for full-time jobs, I was focused on how I could take my music career to the next level. I was going to leave college without a reliable source of income, but had all the intentions of making it happen. Ultimately, in 2017 I “failed”, got a job in Columbus, and realized that at the moment I needed to do something paired with music to keep the dream afloat, but in the process I wrote some of my best music and learned what being a full-time musician meant so the next time I took that leap I knew what support I needed. During that process, on a days I felt like quitting on myself, I wrote a song “Rope Break” which now has amassed over 100k streams, been one of my biggest successes during performances, and is now featured in an independent film, Poser, by Loose Films. I pulled that from uncertainty. I remember saying to myself, “I can’t prove those who said I couldn’t do it right, so this gotta pop, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure those who DO believe are given something to be proud about.”
I’m a storyteller and my musical content comes from my life and things I’ve experienced. Often times I’ll throw myself in a challenging situation just to see If I can get out of it. Nothing super serious, but if I had to equate it to sport, I’d throw the first half of a game and go down 20 just to see if I can win. It’s silly, but again the risks and my love for living in uncertainty fuel me. I’ve been known for my energetic live performances where the audience could see me dive out into a crowd, or even a backflip off a speaker or some shit. In my mind I think if they catch me or if I land this flip the crowd is going to go nuts. That just how I’m wired.
The summer of 2019, I went on a self-funded tour in a few cities for a song I released called Zoom. I named the tour “Zoom to Your Passions tour”, and centered it around taking chances and living out your dreams. A line in the song goes, “experience the world, never know what all can happen.” During the final show of the tour, which was my first performance opportunity in Los Angeles, I said to myself I want to do this for the rest of my life, and once I return to Ohio I’m strategizing my exit from my day job. Only this time, I had to be smarter and more calculated so I made a game-plan. I eventually quit October 31st 2019, and began my 2nd journey as a full-time musician. The difference from 2016 to 2019 is I applied the teaching moments I had from 2016 to a more developed and advanced version of me. So instead of coming home from that show in July and putting in my two week notice the Monday I returned, I had conversations with my parents, manger, friends, and constructed a plan so when I did quit my job, in October, I’d be able to float. I knew quitting my job was absolutely still going to be a risk, but this time when I jumped I’d have better tools to fly.
Now in 2021 following a wildly difficult 2020, I’m back in that state of uncertainty. Everyday I wake up I know that my next meal, my rent payments, etc will have to be a product of my hard work. People look up to me as someone who took the leap and is making it happen and it brings me back to the moment I made “Rope Break,” except this time I know that if I quit, someone else may quit because I did, but if I get busy and make it happen that will inspire someone to be what they are destined to be. I love that feeling, and it truly all comes from taking risks.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is my life. My music is not only a reflection of my story, but my way to deal with the world. Before releasing music to the public or before any payments, I used music as a stress reliever. Writing my feelings and thoughts to some of my favorite songs at the time. I was asked recently, “do you journal?” and my response was, “yeah, in my music.” I’m most proud that I’m able to share my light with the world and every day I wake up I’m given the opportunity to inspire someone. It gives me chills just thinking about it, and reminds me of the artists or different figures who I looked up to as a child and how they made me feel. That excites me and truly drives me not only in my music, but my way of life.
I believe I’ve gotten to where I am today by looking for progress instead of perfection. Be a better version of myself today than I was yesterday. Continuing to put in the hours honing my craft, and once I get to 10,000, put another 10,000 in.
This journey has been everything but easy. Dealing with rejection, self doubt, comparisons, and not being where I feel I should be. That shit sucks for real, but all of that has made me a stronger person and given me material for my music, because I know someone else out there is dealing with those same feelings, maybe not in music, but in their own field. To overcome the challenges I just keep going, look for the positives in life, and know that my moment is on the horizon.
Like I said earlier to me life is the best teacher and with the trial and error approach, lessons are bound to happen. Specifically the last couple years I’ve learned that the mental is so so so important. I had a mental breakdown because I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was working myself to sleep and chalking it up to the whole I can sleep when I’m dead saying. I realized that in order to be 100% in my music, performances, and life, I have to be 100% with myself and really take care of my myself through sleep, mental health days, not putting too much pressure on myself, and allowing myself to live. I’ve learned to be flexible and adjust cause nine times out of ten things will not go exactly how you planned it. Have to be like water.
I want to world to know I’m a man for the people and with the people. I want to help the world anyway I can specifically black and marginalized communities. I’m a dreamer and risk taker, and my daily mission is to be a light to people’s lives. Last, at all my shows I end my set by saying, “Always Love, Always Inspire, know that when you wake up you have super powers!” I mean that!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ok, so boom I live in Columbus, OH so this is about to be fun! Immediately have to hit either Upper Cup Coffee or Parable coffee, two black owed spots in the city. I’m big into walking and stuff so I’d have to go to Scioto Mile and and we can either sit near the river, walk along side it, or get some bikes or scooters. Simple stuff. Food spots we are 1000% hitting, Creole Kitchen, Royals, and probably Dos Hermanos tacos, Matter fact one of the days I’m making my famous Joelish Boys ( secret recipe, I can’t give the game away). I know this is wild, but i’m originally from Cleveland so if we wanted to get really crazy I’d have to take them to my hometown Woodmere Village for a Davis Bakery corned beef sandwich, and then to Black Box Fix! Now for some activities, we can go to a Columbus Clippers game, if any of my DJ friends (Satele, Mike Dow, Bern, Nic Nacc) have events we gotta go, no question. Theres so many different shows that go on in the city so I’d have to take them to one of my favorite artists shows at Ace of Cups, The Basement, Skullys, or some DIY spaces. Now to drink, whew I’m a dive bar kind of guy and rarely go to the club so we are hitting places like Land Grant, Rehab Tavern, Two Truths, Olde Towne Tavern. If they are pressed to go to a more club atmosphere, I’d probably take them to Short North and we’d bar hop, but I’m going to try my hardest to not do that. I feel like I’d have to take them to see some art too. There is a lot of street art in East Franklinton and a lot of it are my friends like Hakim Callwood. Special guy. Then we’d go to 934 Gallery. That’s a lot, but the opportunities for fun are endless.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my circle of friends. I’ve been blessed with great friends and I never have to look far for inspiration because they help elevate me on a daily basis.
Annie Noelker, Zane Osler, Kendra Bryant, Mitchell Multimedia, Emma Parker