Joji gets serious with 'In Tongues' EP

“In Tongues” is the first production released by George Miller under the alias of Joji. While many are familiar with Miller from his past musical endeavors as Pink Guy, he stated this latest project is his first venture into serious music-making. In order to understand where Miller is at in his career now and how he arrived here, it is necessary to put into context the unconventional trajectory his musical career has taken.

It all started in 2008 when he started posting comedy sketches on YouTube as an absurdist character named Filthy Frank. Frank’s grotesque and unapologetic humor quickly amassed a cult following which blossomed into almost 5.5 million subscribers today. During his time as a YouTuber, Miller also invented a character he called “Pink Guy.” Dressed in a full hot pink spandex bodysuit, Pink Guy became an extension of Frank’s racy, offensive style in the form of song. He actually released two full-length albums under this pseudonym with the latter, titled “Pink Season,” climbing all the way to number 70 on the Billboard 200.

The sound of Pink Guy was crude to say the least. It was obvious that the cheap beats simply functioned as a background for Miller’s dark and unrepeatable lyrics, including topics such as pedophilia, racism and general toilet humor. He knew it was low-brow and wanted to push himself to step outside his comfort zone.

Miller told Pigeons and Planes, "I've always wanted to make normal music. I just started the YouTube channel to kind of bump my music. But then Filthy Frank and the Pink Guy stuff ended up getting way bigger than I thought so I had to kind of roll with it."

This is where the incarnation of Joji begins. It was a total rebrand in an attempt to get away from the YouTube days as a college kid living in Brooklyn. “In Tongues” shows a commitment to quality production and lyrics written out of genuine emotion by emphasizing themes pulled directly from Miller’s life - most notably in his sampling of natural phenomena, including rain falling, fire crackling and wind blowing. This is a result of his childhood spent growing up in the southern port city of Higashinada-ku Kobe, Japan. He revealed to Mass Appeal Magazine the profound impact this had on influencing the more organic sounds and nostalgic sentiments that can be heard in each of the six tracks on “In Tongues.”

“Will He” was the first and only single released off the EP. If anyone was skeptical of Miller’s ability to create legitimate music, this track would prove otherwise. Its haunting piano melody and eerily resonant backup vocals set a melancholy mood which would come to shape the EP as a whole. The downtempo, lo-fi style that defines trip-hop, a subgenre of hip-hop, is extremely popular in certain corners of the music industry. While many people associate this genre with smaller, independent artists, especially those found on SoundCloud, Joji is bringing it to mainstream audiences here.

Another standout track is “Worldstar Money (Interlude),” because it is so different from the others. It is a ukulele-driven track about love and questioning one’s sanity in response to sudden fame or attention. While the ideas of love and sanity are contemplated frequently throughout the EP, the almost entirely acoustic beat is far more minimalistic than anything else on “In Tongues.” Miller also further legitimizes his musical ability by not only playing the ukulele, an instrument he has shown his skill with previously as Pink Guy, but by also incorporating some really clever sampling and mixing techniques.

Overall, “In Tongues” is an incredibly promising transition in the convoluted career of George Miller. As he stated, this is only the beginning for Joji as he and his incredibly loyal fanbase look forward to plenty of new music in the future.

4.5/5 stars


Mitchell Clark is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at mitchell.clark@uconn.edu.