A rising internet star chats to Cian Montague.
Joseph McGuirk, a creative music production student in IADT, has been making waves on the internet recently with his musical project Janksy. His work seems particularly impressive after you learn that he’s only 18. Somewhat comically, despite being less than a year out of school, he seems preoccupied with getting older: “I’m always telling myself, aw I’m turning 19 now, fuck’s sake, it’s going so fast. I kind of need to remind myself of my age.”
Janksy makes indie/alternative rock tunes built around guitar licks and mellow vocals. He does everything himself, including the production work, where he uses sampled drums and puts everything together. He says that his songwriting process varies, but “Lyrics are always last, because I use lyrics to portray what I’ve been writing all along in terms of the music. Lyrics enhance the story.” He often writes about “coming to terms with situations that I’m finding myself in.” His most popular track, ‘Limbo,’ for example, is about the difficulties of transitioning into adulthood.
“I do it all by myself, and it’s all coming from my bedroom.”
Who has influenced him most? “The top three to come to my head would be David Bowie, The Beatles, and Frank Ocean,” he says. “David Bowie and The Beatles more so because of how they changed the game…but I kind of fell in love with Frank Ocean just because of his persona… and that ‘enigma’ label attached to him.” There is something about Ocean with which Janksy closely identifies: “It reminds me of… I’m not an introverted person, but when it comes to being artistic, and with my music especially, I kind of do it all by myself, and it’s all coming from my bedroom.”
Despite having only four songs available online, Janksy has built up a sizeable following, with many thousands of plays, including a combined YouTube and SoundCloud total of more than 30,000 for ‘Limbo,’ not bad for an 18-year-old working from his room. “It blows my mind!” says Janksy, “When I released my first song on SoundCloud, which was ‘There For U,’ it hit 100 views in maybe like a week, and that to me was like, ‘holy shit!’ and now seeing the amount of listens is pretty crazy.”
Where does Janksy see himself taking the project? “I’ve been starting to jam with a bassist and a drummer, and we’re looking to do some live shows over the summer… I’m really looking forward to it.” He wants to get up on the streaming platforms, and has more music coming too: “It’s kind of like an EP, I’m gonna call it a ‘song series.’ That’s going to be coming out by the end of the year definitely, probably by the end of summer, and hopefully there’s a music video to come with that.” He laughs, “Pretty much all of my creative willpower is going into that.”
There’s something endearingly simple about the whole operation. Janksy has no pretences, despite the sudden surge in interest in him. He has moments of self-consciousness in our talk, but mostly gives off an air of quiet confidence in his music. “I don’t know, it’s weird talking about it,” he says, “but at the end of the day, it’s being who I am.”