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Love Letter To A Record: Josie Moon On Agust D’s Self-Titled Mixtape

Music Feeds’ Love Letter To A Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share stories about how the music they love has influenced their lives.

  • Aotearoa-based alt-pop artist Josie Moon has just released her debut album, Paint Me How You Need Me, a 12-track collection of forward-thinking pop music. Moon pens a love letter to one of her biggest influences, the debut self-titled mixtape from South Korean rapper Agust D. Listen to Josie Moon’s ‘Victor Hotel’ below.

Josie Moon On Agust D by Agust D (2016)

This album came to me at just the right time in my life. You hear from elder friends that the cherished music of your teens becomes the largest reference point for your musical vocabulary throughout the rest of your life. In places, that’s true. This album has continued to resonate with me from the fitful state of my late teens and now on into the woozy, perpetual state of soul searching in my mid-20s.

Naturally indulging in nostalgic 90s hip hop, Agust D’s self-titled would be expected to equip its track listing with lyrics emboldening the vocalist, a defence mechanism accompanied by entrenched percussion and gripping hooks. A discussion of ego and hardship comes hand in hand with such a deeply expressed genre. Sonically the mixtape is abrasive, large drums stomp aside raw, scratched vocals, but uncommonly, those vocals depict unrelenting details of struggles with social anxiety and depression (‘The Last’, ‘So Far Away’).

New Zealand is not a country that is yet willing to discuss mental health on a deeper level. Finding such a loud form of media with vigorous reassurance that you aren’t an alien for experiencing what you are was life-changing. Using the stories of the album to delineate my own experiences, it was as if a mirror had been held to me. I could see a future of using music as a compass to navigate an endless sea of self-discouragement, lofty expectation, and fear.

This album was the first catalogue of music I discovered that was not only willing to engage with overt discussion of mental health, but one that offered the necessary comfort alongside. It not only bares its soul to you but teaches you mechanisms of baring your own.

At 19, the idea of writing my secrets into my diary was even too exposing, so taking those words and pasting them into an unforgivingly voyeuristic genre such as pop – which I was in the beginnings of curating my own self in – seemed incredibly at odds with my socially anxious defence mechanisms. But I had seen it be done, so I was emboldened and inspired.

Retrospectively, I can see the incredible impact this album had on my self-confidence and creativity. It was a distinct turning point in my coping mechanisms and mental illness journey. This mixtape allowed me to make music with competing messages of fear and healing and use it as a vessel to pass on the same understanding that I had been gifted with.

The album preaches the message through experience – I’ve struggled and used music as a pillar of faith and expression, and these are the changes I’ve seen. It’s a love confession to the arts and a testament to the ability of creativity and expression to change your life.

Paint You How You Need Me by Josie Moon is out now.

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