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Doing what you love and embracing self-promotion with Joplyn

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Joplyn | Interview

Despite having over 219,000 monthly listeners on Spotify across 78 countries, Joplyn speaks about her work with a modesty that comes perhaps from her Berlin roots. She traces her career as songwriter, producer and vocalist back to poetry, which she dabbled in when she was young. Her music can be best-described as mysterious, futuristic and emotive, operating in Berlin’s rich electronic and house music scenes. She invites listeners into her world, revealing her most intense thoughts and feelings through the lyrics in her songs while also connecting to her fans through social media posts signed simply with ‘love, j.’ 

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She spends hours getting to know her fans through Spotify analytics, taking their response and feedback to her music back into the studio with her, making sure her music evolves alongside her listeners. She runs Stone Free Berlin, an independent post-genre record label and lifestyle company with fellow artist, Chi Thanh.

Tell us about you and your career?

I produce, sing and write music so I’m going to go ahead and call myself an artist. I got serious about my music about 3 years ago and my projects started to take off since then. Now I make music full-time. 

I grew up surrounded by music, and singing came naturally to me. I used to write poetry and rather spontaneously one day I decided to write a melody to go with one of my poems, which I think was the start of it all. I live in Berlin where there is a huge electronic music scene, and that’s how I really got into electronic music. American music was hugely influential to me initially but the electronic music that surrounds me is what I truly love. 

Most of my songwriting is triggered by something really small, like a short sample, bassline or just a melody stuck in my head. If I’m in, what most people would call ‘the flow’ I can write songs very quickly, but when the flow is interrupted by making videos, shooting new content and promoting songs, it’s always a pain because it eats into creative time. On the other hand, all of that can also be really creative in a different way than what’s conventionally seen as “creative.” If I think of a new promotion idea, that takes people by surprise and completely changes the game, or work on one social media post for weeks, then that’s also being “creative.” But sometimes it becomes a little too much, next to what I really, genuinely love doing, which is making music.

I’ve always liked creating with other people I knew but this is the first real project I have truly committed to. I call it Joplyn.

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Music has been my way of immortalising moments in time or my memories through sound. This is why every song can let me time travel in some ways. For me it’s about capturing versions of myself from the past and being able to come back to them through my music.

How do you release songs and engage with fans?

I release songs with my label, Stone Free Berlin but I’m also signed with the digital distributor, Kobalt and their label Awal and always release music through them. 

I have been wanting to include people further into my creative processes because I’d always enjoyed when artists did that as a fan. The pandemic has freed up some time for me and so I’ve been thinking about this a lot more. I’ve been posting videos of brand new songs and getting people excited about in a way, being a part of the process of making them.

I have Spotify for Artists on my phone and they give me a ton of analytics on my listeners – gender, the countries where they live and how they access my music. I recently learnt that Spotify draws a distinction between the ‘leaning forwards’ listeners, those who are actively looking for your music and then those ‘leaning backwards’, who discover you in passing or on a playlist! It’s super interesting and quite a rabbit hole, I could spend hours getting to know my listeners. 

A lot of them DM me which is super cool. There was this one guy who made a really cool video of himself dancing to one of my songs. I feel like I’ve gotten to know everyone that interacts with me on social media a bit; some reach out and tell me about their lives and there are others who follow me without ever messaging me (which obviously still means a lot) but I don’t know them that well. I still cherish every single fan and follower. 

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I get a little overwhelmed with posting stories so I’m mainly focusing on just individual posts for now. I don’t want it to feel forced. Should my life get more exciting, like playing shows or exploring different places, then I think I’m definitely going to post more of them though. With Tik Tok and Instagram Reels taking over the world, right now I’m trying to think of fun and creative ways to use them to spread my message as well.

I do everything on my socials by myself. I have a little app on my phone that I can use to plan out my Instagram feed which I find really fun to do. I think social media is also part of the art. Making good music should be the number one priority but you also need to create this audio-visual world that people can immerse themselves in. Social media to me is one big stage to express myself on. 

Can you share some of the tactics you used that worked well? What advice would you give to people starting out?

Firstly, reaching out to people. I did a sync for Netflix. The first studio jam I did, I filmed in my room about 2 years ago. I filmed it, uploaded it and suddenly loads of people started to follow my work. I sent my work to a lot of the brands whose equipment I had used to make that bit of music. They reposted my video, which brought me the first spike in followers. When AKAI reposted my video, the folks at Netflix took notice. They reached out to me to help with the soundtrack to this series called “We are the Wave”, which came out last year. 

Second, embrace self-promotion. I’ve started to tell people to follow me and check out my music in real life. You shouldn’t be afraid of self-promotion, how is someone else going to vouch for you if you don’t do so for yourself?

And third, make mistakes! Imperfection sounds better than absolute perfection to me, always. If something is too clean and too perfect, it might as well just be an ad. That’s when the emotions get lost.

What is next for you?

I’ve made it my life goal to make my passion and music projects my full-time job. I want to wake up each morning and be excited about creating new material each day. I’ve been reading more and more about marketing and want to channel that into expanding Joplyn as a brand, complete with merch and a bunch of other cool stuff I’ve been working on!! I want to see it become a name that stands for special and stand-alone stuff!

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