On the Couch with Joel Ma

Joel-Ma-photo-by-CRAATE-CREATIVEWho is Joel Ma?
My name is Joel Ma (AKA Joelistics). I’m a music producer, rapper, songwriter and theatremaker. I’m a proud Chinese-Australian, left-leaning, 90’s kid. I’m a new-ish father. I lean towards Sci-fi/Fantasy – plus I can make a mean pavlova.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I’d be a nurse at The Royal Children’s Hospital.

Who inspires you and why?
Daniel Kitson, Kendrick Lamar and Phoebe Waller Bridge for general subversion within their chosen fields. Alice Coltrane, Delia Derbyshire and Flying Lotus for their sonic open mindedness. Bob Brown for his climate activism and David Attenborough for his wonder and breadth of experience of the natural world.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
For a start – free housing, free education, free health care and food provisions for all. I’d create a living wage for artists, defund private schools, decriminalise all substances and prioritise education above law enforcement. I’d divest from all businesses and companies connected to Israel and demilitarise government spending here and abroad.

I’d mandate an annual two week silence meditation for all world leaders and I would steeply increase taxes to mega rich persons and companies to prevent the existence of billionaires. Teach indigenous history and sciences. Age cap social media. Protect old growth forests and invest in alternative energies.

Failing that, I will continue to tell stories and play music to try and make the world a better place. It’s genuinely the most useful thing I’ve found to do with my time while we spin around on a rock in space.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
It’s either Japan or Mongolia. Japan for the food, record stores, the faded futurism and the Onsens. Mongolia for the vastness and the minimal tourism.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I’m more likely to take people to see live music and go to restaurants. Music and food.

What are you currently reading?
I’m finishing up The Priory of the Orange Tree, a fantasy novel set in a Queendom flipping the tropes of gender characterisation within the Fantasy genre. I’m also reading Indelible City by Louisa Lim, an account of the dispossession and defiance of Hong Kong, the city my family is from. It hits home because I was in Hong Kong for my father’s 70th birthday in 2014 and participated in the street protests that kick started the Umbrella revolution.

What are you currently listening to?
I’m listening to Idles new record Tangk, Tim Hecker, Noname, Shabaka (Perceive it’s beauty, Acknowledge it’s Grace) and Aesop Rock.

Happiness is?
When the people I love are healthy and happy, beyond that it’s also when I get ample time in the studio to make weird beats and synth music.

What does the future hold for you?
I’m debuting a one person theatre/music show called All The People You’ve Never Met at South Side Festival in Frankston in May. I’ll be participating in a series of farewell concerts for the Sydney label Elefant Traks throughout June/July. I’ve been commissioned to write an octaphonic synthesiser piece from MESS (Melbourne Electronic Sound Studios) in July. I have two album releases coming out later in the year and a planned trip to Turkey!

Joel Ma presents All The People You’ve Never Met at Cube 37 – Frankston Arts Centre, as part of the 2024 South Side Festival, on Saturday 11 May. For more information, visit: www.southsidefestival.com.au for details.

Image: Joel Ma – photo by CRAATE CREATIVE