Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Artist Spotlight: Josue

The R&B artist spoke about balancing cancer research and music, emotional vulnerability and his latest projects
Astghik Dion / Daily Collegian

For many creatives, once they find an ardor for making music, the goal of transforming one’s artistry into a career swallows all future aspirations. Understandably so — who wouldn’t want to make a living off of doing what they love? However, 21-year-old Josue Medor has realized a concrete choice doesn’t have to be made diverging on two paths; you can pursue multiple things you love at once.

And that is exactly what he is doing. While focusing on cancer research as a senior biochemistry major, Medor is also an R&B artist with an angelic voice and eloquent lyricism to match.“I want to be able to advocate for Black and minority participation in STEM,” said Medor when asked why he chose to study biochemistry. “One of the major things that I’ve noticed, especially when I started getting into cancer research, was the fact that a lot of the cancers that disproportionately affect minority populations are really, really under studied.”

Medor wants to advocate for increased funding and studying of “things that really affect minority populations,” including prostate and breast cancer. “I also want to continue advocating for education and STEM participation for minorities as well.”

Astghik Dion / Daily Collegian

Medor has found a balance between passion for his studies scientifically, and the art he creates musically. Yet, as much as he enjoys immersing himself in music, he doesn’t believe it’s something he would ever want to commercialize.

“I feel like when you commercialize something creative, it takes away from the creativity,” he said. “So if my music gets exposure, if people listen to it, I love that. But my goal isn’t to get my music to a point where I can make money off of it — it’s more so me trying to connect with people that listen to it, and really trying to improve my craft. It’s something that I’m equally just as passionate about as cancer research.”

Turning music into a business can strip away the hard work that was initially put behind it, and that is something Medor said he never wants to do. Instead, he makes music for himself and for the people that love it, to continue enjoying it.

Making music isn’t something that Medor always knew he would pursue, but it was something that he always naturally gravitated toward regardless. Growing up, he was a member of the church and school choirs in Brockton. Once people heard him sing, they realized how much further he could take his talents, encouraging him to make his own music.

“I’d record a song from some beat I found off YouTube, sing over it, and bring it to the school lunch table the next day and be like, ‘Oh, I made this yesterday, listen to this,’” he said. “But I never really pursued music until college. Once I had the resources to do so with the studio in the library and with a lot of support from the people around me.”

In the fall of 2018, Medor released his first project, an EP called “Home Opener.” A sophomore at the time, he mixed and mastered the entire four track project himself and released it on Bandcamp.

Medor referred to YouTube, playing around with various music production software and learning from his friend Olivier Charlemagne — who was also making music at the time — which helped him build a technical musical foundation for the project.

“It was essentially just me dipping my toes in the water, where I wanted to see how people were receptive to it,” he said.

The reception from the release was incredible, with 4,000 streams on the first month of its release — especially given that he had never released music publicly prior to “Home Opener.”

Medor was born in Brooklyn, New York, but moved to Brockton when he was 4 years old. His inspiration for the tape was born out of his mentality and the surroundings that shaped it.

“As far as being a kid from Brockton, as far as being a kid with all these emotions, I wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable and I wanted people to be able to hear that and realize that that’s what my music was going to be,” said Medor. “It’s going to be vulnerable music, it’s going to be music that I’m not afraid to really speak my mind about. It’s going to be about the things that afflicted me, afflicted the people that I interacted with and afflicted the people that I would see.”

At the time, Medor found himself afflicted by what he consumed on social media. He became weighed down by struggles with self-perception, self-worth and difficulties connecting with people beyond a screen. When attempting to discuss these problems with his friends, Medor couldn’t find a way to properly articulate his emotions into words.

This is when he realized music was the answer to expression.

“If I turn what I’m feeling into a song, even though the song is words, it just comes out a lot easier,” he said.

In addition to struggles with self-perception as a result of social media, “Home Opener” is also largely inspired by coming from an underrepresented background and questioning one’s place in the world.

“The first song, ‘Leave You,’ really talked about that, where you often feel like you weren’t needed as a person from an underrepresented background,” said Medor. “I really wanted to highlight my struggles with that and try to connect with anyone that also had those thoughts.”

Being raised in Brockton not only inspired his first tape — it influenced the way he produces music as a whole based off of the interactions he has had and the people he has interacted with in the city.

In his most recent project, the “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” EP, Medor builds off of his hometown ties and features two Brockton artists, King Du and Jøhn Batista.

“This project is a culmination of experiences. A step into the quarantined mind of an individual seeking company and allowing himself to become vulnerable. Subtle themes of loneliness, uncertainty, and self-doubt are intertwined with heavy hints of love, lust, and desire,” Medor describes the project on SoundCloud.

The EP was released on July 21 in the midst of quarantine, in the midst of isolation. Medor recalls trying to disconnect from the struggles that were broadcast on social media and TV, and trying to listen to his own thoughts to truly connect to his emotions at the time. In transforming his emotions to songs, Medor was brought back to that feeling of conquering his vulnerability in his first project.

But, this time, it was about dissecting self-worth from a new perspective.

“My thoughts became so loud,” said Medor. “I think this past EP was more so how other people might have done me wrong, and sort of living with that. But also, thinking about how my romantic relationships changed, how my sexual relationships changed and how my platonic relationships changed as a result of quarantine.”

People could relate to what Medor was speaking on, as many were in a similar state of mind and struggling with the same things. While there was no longer the option to walk up to him and show love on campus, people continued to text him and reach out to let him know how they resonated with the project.

“A lot of the same things that would keep me going in person were a lot of the same things that would keep me going when things were all virtual,” said Medor. “There were people that really connected to the music and felt like they had it on repeat. They felt it on a deeper level than I could have ever imagined. They were getting things from it that I didn’t even intend to write.”

Transforming raw emotions into lyrics is the driving force for Medor’s music, and his songwriting process reflects this.

“I start writing down words that make me think about emotion, or make me think of an idea,” he said. “From there, I either write the music that would go along with that mood, or talk to someone else that also makes music and see what they can do.”

Once the beat and the words he’s trying to elicit have a strong foundation, Medor then proceeds with writing the lyrics to fit rhythmically and sonically.

“I’ll make a song, let it marinate for a couple days, and then listen to it again and see if it’s dope or not,” he said. “Then, I just kind of work on trying to improve.”

When writing music, Medor looks toward a broad array of genres and artists. Bryson Tiller, Frank Ocean and Mac Ayres are a few artists whose sounds inspire him sonically. Yet, many of the musicians that have shaped him sound nothing like him.

“I have influences like Tame Impala and Travis Scott, where it’s not so much the sound of their music but their ability to elicit an emotion from their music when you hear it,” he said. “You don’t just hear the music. You feel it.”

Astghik Dion / Daily Collegian

This ability to elicit emotions through his craft is something Medor has mastered and people have connected with. In comparison to his freshman EP, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” raked in 4,000 streams in the first week alone.

As a result of releasing music during quarantine, Medor wasn’t able to perform live shows to accompany the release — something he is looking forward to once life goes back to “normal.”

“When I first released ‘Miss Me’ and ‘Distraction,’ I would be able to go to a large gathering and everyone’s asking me to perform or sing or whatever,” said Medor. “Having people play it on the speaker, or just vibing to a song that I made, it doesn’t feel real. Having those moments where I can connect with people is something I’m looking forward to.”

While the pandemic created many obstacles for him as an artist, Medor finds himself facing others that stem from his personal life.

“One of the biggest things for me is just getting people to see you as an artist, rather than someone they grew up with or their friend,” said Medor. “Obviously, I want my friends to see me as their friend, but I want to be able to overcome the preconceived notions that people have of you and have them listen to your music, rather than think about what they think they know about you.”

When looking toward the future, Medor sees himself flourishing in an urban environment, free to pursue different dreams and goals without worry.

“I don’t want money and time to limit me in pursuing something that I really want to be able to do,” said Medor. “I want to give back to my community, give back to my family and give back to my friends. I want to be able to do that with reckless abandon, healthy reckless abandon.”

Medor is currently working on a couple songs set to release sometime before the end of the semester, with collaborations from talented UMass artists such as Carolyne Elias.

Keep your eyes peeled for new music, and connect with Medor on Spotify and SoundCloud.

Astghik Dion can be reached at [email protected].

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