Joey Dosik on ‘Game Winner’ EP and the Sports of Love and Basketball
L.A. singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joey Dosik is no stranger to the sports of love and basketball. On his upcoming Game Winner Deluxe Edition EP, Dosik uses double metaphors to delve into both realms, proving that matters of the court are often as tangled and poetic as those of the heart.
With influences from Carole King to Marvin Gaye, Dosik puts a fresh twist on a retro soul sound. Warm vocals and inviting piano chords paint pictures of breezy, sunny days, while poignant lyrics depict new love and love lost. It’s the presence, the choreography of Game Winner, like that of a team on the court, that makes it such a standout project.
Read on as Dosik gives us insight into the project as well as the city, history and influences that lend it its unique glow.
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Where did you grow up and at what point did you get into music?
Well, I’m Los Angeles, born and raised, and I started making music when I was about five years old. I started playing piano and grew up around my parents’ records and loved classical music originally and got sidetracked by the saxophone for a second. It was cool having jazz and realizing the thing I loved doing the most was writing songs and singing, which I’d always done since I was a kid and I went fully into that, and that’s what I’ve been doing.
My love of basketball started from, like a lot of kids, an early age, and I had an intersection of basketball and music a few years ago because I had torn my ACL in my left knee playing basketball, and it had sidelined me — literally. While I was recovering, I ended up writing this weird basketball love song. It’s the title track of my EP; it’s called Game Winner. Then, I ended up making a pseudo basketball-love EP of sorts.
It’s interesting that you’re connecting this love of subjects that might not otherwise be connected.
The thing I feel most fortunate about that has happened is, basketball is something that I can write about from an authentic place. It’s not like, reach your hand into your bucket of concepts to write about and write about this. It is, like you said, not really the norm. But, for me, it is this thing that I do see on the same level as music. When I’m writing about it, it’s coming from a real place. In basketball, you have all these figures that represent things and the mythology around it, the characters and the stories and the pain and the victory, so it did make sense to write about it for me.
“Running Away” is a track that really stands out to me. Tell me about that song.
‘Running Away’ is about literally running into somebody that you used to have something romantic with and how potent that feeling can be. You can’t really file that into your basketball love song tree. That’s something people have been writing about for thousands of years on some level. So, it’s a pretty straightforward love song. The title ‘Running Away’ has a sort of kinship and relationship with the rest of the music on Game Winner EP. If you just look at all the titles, you’re like, ‘Oh, this is also related some way to a guy who may have an unhealthy relationship with the game basketball.’
What are your plans for this year?
Last year, I spent most of the year touring, which was really fun. I got to tour all around the states and tour all around Europe, and this year, I’ve just been pretty focused on getting this music out there. I have an EP dropping in a couple weeks here and also putting the finishing touches on my full-length record, which will get released later this year. Other than that, planning some touring.
We’re going to be at SXSW this year. I’m going to be in Europe a few times. So, pretty traditional as far as music life. It’s in that place where I’m putting out my first EP and my first record, spending time out on the road and in the studio. I think it’s the pretty standard route, but also getting to enjoy my time in Los Angeles. We’re seeing yet another renaissance of amazing music coming out of this place, so it’s good to be here also.
Who are you working with out there? What’s happening in the L.A. scene now?
A lot of New York musicians have been making an exodus to Los Angeles for the past two years. New York music culture versus L.A. music culture is… In L.A., you have the major hub of the entertainment industry, so you have a whole lot of labels putting bands together for artists, so a more industry-centered creative force, while in New York, you have that to some degree, but you also have musicians who get together and have these little weekly gigs all over the place, and they’ll just kind of play in a bar.
It’s one of those things where, in New York, you can just stumble upon a bar and stumble on some amazing real blues or something, and now that folks are moving out to Los Angeles, I kind of see something similar happening here. There are more just musicians playing out on a regular basis. So there’s that happening in L.A. and then also, a band that I closely collaborate with is called Vulfpeck, and we’ve been close collaborators for many years and those guys live here. So I’m going in the studio next week with them to start recording the next record. It’s an exciting time to be in LA, for sure.
Who are your main influences?
My influences are too vast to name in a way. Especially now, people would feel that way with all the music that is available to us. The entire history of modern music is at our disposal, so it’s so easy to listen to everything. The Game Winner EP is really influenced by gospel music from the ‘70s and ‘80s and R&B and James Taylor and Carole King and Marvin Gaye and there are some more modern R&B influences there too.
When did songwriting come into the equation, and how did you find your voice there?
I’ve kind of been fooling around with songwriting since I was a kid, but I just made the decision at some point, like, I’m going to really try and do this. It’s a craft like anything. It’s like playing an instrument. It’s a craft you have to put a lot of time into. I really appreciate and admire and cherish the power of the song. It gets frozen, and the really great ones kind of affect people. They can literally change the energy of people. It was one of my goals to have a positive effect on people.
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