On the desk in-front of me lies a CD Jewel Case Insert. On it, a young man holds aloft an acoustic guitar, obscuring his face slightly. I’m compelled to type “Free My Mind – Joe Chilcott” into Google and a few seconds later I’m on a SoundCloud page. I click play, and as the soft, melodic sound of an acoustic guitar fills the air a voice from the other side of the office asks “is that Newton Faulkner?”
You can forgive the question, for 20 year old Joe clearly has something of ‘the Faulkner’ about him. He even cites Newton as one of his influences alongside the talents of singer-songwriters Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard. But it is the melodies and percussive guitar talents of Andy McKee that Southampton born Joe says is possibly his biggest influence, explaining that he “inspires me in the way he is able to write completely original sounding music in an original guitar style, and move the listener emotionally with zero lyrical input.”
Having received an electric guitar at the age of 16, Joe moved onto playing an acoustic guitar a year later and his passion for music was ignited. Now in his final year studying for a Commercial Music degree at Platform One College of Music on the Isle of Wight, Joe has performed at both he Isle of Wight festival and Best-ival. But what would he do if offered a recording contract tomorrow?
“I wouldn’t take it” he says defiantly. “I have just a few months left on my degree course, then I want to do a postgraduate in Music Education. I want to make sure I can solidify my future before anything else.”
That’s not to say a career as a singer-songwriter is off the table, far from it. He continues to perform regularly as both a solo artist and as part of a band that’s set to tour Amsterdam later in the year. He’s also just released his first EP featuring four original tracks, and has already started work on his second.
If “Free my Mind” is a sign for things to come, I for one can’t wait to hear more.