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Joji  

Japanese-Australian Singer-Songwriter, Record Producer, Author, Former Internet personality & Comedian

In 2013, George Miller — called Joji — wasn’t known for his music. He was known as a hugely popular comic YouTube personality called Filthy Frank, in the tradition of Jackass. His debut album, "October’s Ballads 1," topped Billboard‘s R&B/Hip-Hop chart, becoming the first project from an Asian-born artist to do so, and his songs have since racked up nearly half a billion streams on Spotify alone. Joji’s music is melancholy and layered, mixing tender melodies with edgy lyrical content. His persona is low-key funny, social media feeds dappled with bad-angle selfies and jokes delivered in meme language. His videos are cryptic and dark.

Joji, who is half Australian and half Japanese, grew up in Osaka, Japan. He taught himself how to make music using GarageBand after hearing Lil Wayne’s 2008 hit “A Milli” and wanting to recreate the beat. (Joji’s other favorites early on were 50 Cent and Limp Bizkit.) He tested out ukulele, piano and guitar — but is the first to admit that his strength is not in formal training, but instead in his knack for unusual production.

In 2017 Joji retired from his YouTube career, having grown out of the style of the content and needing to address “pretty gnarly” medical issues he was dealing with, as he describes it. He linked up with 88rising, a music collective and record label that supports artists of Asian descent; a new documentary tracks how Joji’s label mates like Indonesia-born Rich Brian and China’s Higher Brothers are challenging norms around Asian-originated music, including putting on a dedicated summer music festival. With their support in place, Joji set about making — and releasing — the kind of music that he wanted to create: idiosyncratic, complex songs that speak to listeners mired in end-times malaise.

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