INTERVIEW: Josie Man on Embracing Your Inner Child and Caring for Other People While Caring for Yourself

She just headlined the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading & Leeds Festival and has her new brilliant single “Stormy Skies (Diamonds)” out today. The rising London-artist Josie Man is on the rise with a clear message of positivity and acceptance.

Josie Man by Theo Batterham
Josie Man by Theo Batterham

Growing up, Josie Man hated school. Literally HATED it. She was never academic. She imagined things and viewed the world through pictures and moving things rather than words.

She used to look up to Avril Lavigne back then. “I loved Avril Lavigne because I thought she was just doing whatever she wanted. To me she was like a naughty schoolgirl – not in a weird way – but when you were in school that was like the coolest thing ever. She would just do whatever she wanted,” Josie Man says when Girls Are Awesome meets her on a Zoom call.

Another hero at that time was her mom who would pick her up at lunch to give her a break from school. She’s still a role model today. “My mom always made me feel like I was cared about, and I think that’s why I always wanna make sure that people feel cared about,” she reflects on her upbringing.

When writing songs, words come more easily to Josie Man than they did in school and listening to her music is like feeling cared about, at least for the short moment of time the songs last. The tracks are like small life lessons on positivity, self-love, and having fun. And the overall theme and message of it all is one of acceptance

If you automatically put your guard up because you’re tired of hearing people preaching self-love and positivity, try challenging yourself and give Josie Man a chance. The honesty and sincerity of her music can’t be neglected. It comes from somewhere true. From somewhere you’ve probably found yourself at some point in your life. It comes from feeling different and being embarrassed of feeling different.

Never miss out on a bit of fun

Josie Man – her father is from Sa Tin, Hong Kong, and her mother from Catford, London – looked different. She’s always dressed colorful, her shoes are big and chunky (she shows me on Zoom at one point during our interview), her skin is decorated with tattoos and she’s wearing loads of big jewelry. People would point out to her that she was different, she’s previously explained. It used to make her shy but she’s learned to embrace her differences and not care too much about what other people think of her. Something many people talk about, but less people manage to actually do. So, what’s the secret? (Asking for a friend…) 

“I think I just realized that life is short and it’s too short to be shy and not doing things you like. And don’t get me wrong, I still get really shy and sometimes I doubt myself and it happens a lot. But there’s no point. You can either worry about what people think or not,” she says and adds an important ‘however’: 

“It’s not good to just not care what others think. It’s just when it comes to doing things that makes you laugh, that’s when you shouldn’t care. I care a lot about what people think and I care about everyone being okay but sometimes it’s more painful to you to do that and then you realize that you’re missing out on things that you could be having fun with. And I never wanna miss out on a bit of fun,” she says and laughs heartily.

Josie Man // Press

I feel like my music sounds like what I look like. If you close your eyes, I hope you can just hear my personality coming out. It’s positive but also realistic that things aren’t always OK and that’s OK.

Josie Man describes her music as “identity pop” which makes sense in a musical landscape where genres are blurring out and keeping it real is cooler than ever. Josie Man’s definition of identity pop is pretty straight-forward:

“Basically, my music is me in a musical form. I feel like my music sounds like what I look like. If you close your eyes, I hope you can just hear my personality coming out. It’s positive but also realistic that things aren’t always OK and that’s OK.”

Unleash your inner child

Josie Man loves crying. It’s something that she does quite a lot, she says. She also loves laughing, and she does that a lot too. 

“I’m very hyper all the time,” she says passionately. “It’s like my inner child comes out even more now as I get older. And I think it’s really good to keep your inner child active throughout your life because it’s what keeps you happy. Sometimes it takes over but when I’m by myself I’m like a kid and that’s okay. I’m a kid at heart. I love the fact that we can still stay in touch with our inner child when we’re like 99. It will always be there, you just gotta tab into it!”

You’ll meet Man’s inner child in one of her recent videos for the single “One of Those Days. When Josie Man writes songs, she always has a straight picture of what it will look like if it’s a video. But for this song, she didn’t. Luckily, her team proved to know her just as well as she knows herself when they suggested making the video heavily fashion based. 

“I just like dressing myself up like a doll,” she laughs. “Clothes are something that make me feel empowered,” she continues. “It can sometimes be seen as like: Oh, you just like being on trend or whatever but to me it’s literally like, if I don’t feel like me, I’m not gonna be able to go about with my day cause I’ll just not be feeling great. It’s easy to be embarrassed of yourself because you’re not fitting in, and I think the answer is to just go out. I like what I wear, and it makes me feel good!”

Someone understands you

With the release of Man’s brand new single “Stormy Skies (Diamonds)”, she’s released another all-accepting life lesson, there to pick you up when you’re feeling down. In Man’s own words the music coming out now grows as she grows. To her, songs are like one of her many tattoos; they stick with you and once it’s there it’s there. There’s no need to look back at things in regret cause it’s just what happened at the time. 

“When I think about my old music, I can remember what I was like back then and I think music is like a journey with you. It’s something that’s documented, and I can’t wait till I’m like 90 and will be looking back thinking: That was me when I was younger, and that’s what it’s about. I would always want my music to be something that means something to me because if it doesn’t, I don’t really see the point.”

Josie Man by Eva Pentel
Photo by Eva Pentel

She hopes that her music can keep helping people, just like so much music has helped her along the way. With a growing number of fans following her musical journey, she’s on her way to become a role model just like Avril Lavigne and her mom were to her (and oh, did we forget to say that she’s a huuuge Rihanna fan too?). 

“It can get quite lonely so having a role model is quite comforting. I think we all just wanna feel safe and loved and cared for and that’s what role models do. They make you feel like you’re not alone in it and that someone can understand you.”

And if you’re an aspiring artist looking to Josie Man for inspiration, here’s her advice to you when the music industry gets overwhelming at times:

“I think you always know who you are and whatever feels right you should always go with it even if it means having to say no. It’s okay to be like: I don’t wanna do that but what about this. In the long run it’s not good for your own self to do things that aren’t right for you. You always know more than anyone what you want. Always stick to being you even if some people don’t like it. It’s fine!”

Josie Man by Theo Batterham
Photo by Theo Batterham

“Stormy Skies (Diamonds)” is out today, and you can stream it through any streaming service here. Follow Josie Man on Spotify, Instagram and Facebook.

Since you’re here, we assume you like music. So do we! And that is why we’ve created a playlist that is updated every Friday with the best new music we’ve come around during the week. Find it on Spotify here and check out our other music related content here to never miss a beat.


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