J Briozo

Josué Briozo comes from a long line of Galician-Portuguese trovadors (poets/troubadours) dating back to the 12th century. His family line stretches back to João Soares de Paiva (born c. 1140), a Portuguese nobleman who is recognized as the first author in the Galician-Portuguese language. João Soares de Paiva held lands in northern Portugal by the falls of the river Paiva and also in Aragon, Monzón, Tudela, and Pamplona, near the border with Navarre, as fiefs of the King of Aragon.

While the music of the trovadors was passed down through time, the noble title and lands were not, and the de Paiva line eventually found their way to the small island of Terceira in the Azore Islands where they established a vineyard near Angra do Heroísmo. It is here that young Josué learned the cantigas and fado (folk) music that were native to his family.

A restless teen, Josué had dreams to play the clubs in Lisbon, so he left his ancestral home for the mainland at the age of 16. In Lisbon, Josué was regarded as something of a prodigy, a jacu (hillbilly) from the equivalent of the Portuguese Ozarks. While his talent was recognized, the native songs of his family were regarded as quaint and old fashioned and he had to adapt to the modern Lisbon scene to get shows at the café and clubs.

In the multi-cultural atmosphere of Lisbon, Josué learned the new styles quickly and put a small trio together to play the budding café scene where he flourished for a time before getting the bug to move on. He had fallen in with a group of Basque musicians from San Sebastián and soon found himself on the move again, this time to Basque Country in the north of Spain. It was here that he discovered the music of Fito Cabrales (Fito & Fitipaldis) and Mikel Erentxun. It was Mikel’s covers of The Smith’s “The Light that Never Goes Out” (“Esta luz nunca se apagará”) and Morrissey’s “Every Day is Like Sunday” (“Todo es Igual Siempre”) that sparked Josué’s interest in Western pop music.

Over the course of the next year, Josué found himself devouring everything from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones to Elliot Smith, Big Star, Nick Drake and The Smiths. Around this time, he began in earnest to learn English, the language of the pop-poets, and he worked diligently to combine his own voice and style with the sound and vibe of the Western pop artists. As his muse grew stronger, he recognized that he would have to find a way to record his music if he ever wanted to be relevant to a wider audience.

For the next few years, Josué began traveled more widely, becoming an itinerant musician who lived hostels and played for small, enthusiastic audiences from Amsterdam to Casablanca. He had yet to set foot in the UK or America, which still seemed too large, exotic and distant to him.

For a time, he settled in Barcelona and fell in love with the pace of life in Catalonia. The locals enjoyed his unique sound, but outside of the Tapas bars and smaller acoustic venues, he was considered a bit of an exotic flavor in a young scene that preferred recorded music to live performances. The younger generation were all in the clubs dancing to DJ’s playing EDM and American hip-hop and the older crowd had seemingly all moved on to jazz and classical music.

For a time, Josué found a home in Barcelona’s fledgling indie-rock and pop scene, opening for the likes of Mishima, Mazoni, Els Amics De Les Arts and El Manar, but soon grew tired of the provincial nature of the scene, realizing that none of these bands were flourishing outside of the region. Josué had bigger things in mind and he knew instinctively that his music wouldn’t translate to the outside world if he sang in his native tongue or in Catalan, the regional Spanish dialect that most bands in the scene insisted on using.

Living at the hostel in Barcelona had given Josué a window on the wider world that some of his local contemporaries did not have. The travelers shared their music and their stories with him and he found himself feeling more affinity with Wilco, Beck and David Bowie than the bands he was playing with locally. He soon became friends with travelers from the UK and the United States and he decided to try his luck and moved to the United States.

For the past two years, Josué has been splitting his time between relatives on the West Coast (Monterey, San Francisco and Portland) and playing and recording with a group of friends and musicians in Minnesota. He was first introduced to this group by drummer Justin DeLeon, whom he befriended in the jazz clubs in Barcelona. Justin is an American-born musician of Spanish descent who introduced Josué to the American cellist and composer Aaron Kerr, guitarist Brett Hansen and multi-instrumentalist Tyson Allison. This group of musicians form the core of Josué’s new band and are helping Josué bring his music to the world.

In November 2017, Josué released his first studio album under the name J. Briozo. Four songs from the album are now available on the promotional EP “Blind.” With a bit of luck, Josué will find some industry support in the states or abroad to help promote his unique vision and sound.