Joel Wästberg, aka sir Was hails from Frillesås, Sweden and has spent most of his life with an appreciation for jazz, particularly the saxophone. He traveled the world with jazz ensembles before developing an interest in pan-African rhythms, visiting Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Coupled with his studies of post-modern American composers such as John Cage and Morton Feldman and his jazz training, left Wästberg with the dilemma of how to connect with an audience doing the kind of music he’d grown to love. Collaborating with Argentinian-Swedish indi folk singer Jose Gonzalez, sir Was soon struck out on his own, with his debut EP Says Hi in 2016, where he fused his love for many musical forms while adding hip hop grooves on top.
Now with his full length debut album Digging a Tunnel, he continues to push boundaries and has received critical acclaim, especially with the first single from the album “In the Midst,” that received a Little Dragon remix. The track is reminiscent of Citizen Cope vocally, with a 70s groove chord progression – the humming of the organ and the drag of the bassline. The title track, “Digging in a Tunnel” embodies sir Was’s emotive and dark style. It’s not all dark however, as “Bomping” comes with the handclap upbeat feel to get on your feet, and “Revoke” has an expansive Tame Impala style. Digging a Tunnel was almost an album that didn’t happen due to Wästberg’s crippling procrastination, of which he overcame and released a solid and innovative project. Available on sir Was Bandcamp. Check it out below.