Some people have lives, some have music. Yosef Mase, better known as Yoe Mase, falls in the latter.
His 2018 LP titled “Soldier” has been a massive hit worldwide, and has one of my favourite album arts. In the album, Yoe describes the pop-music industry as a war, and himself a soldier – fighting by making meaningful music. The whole album is an emotional roller coaster and I encourage anyone who hasn’t checked it out to give it a listen.
‘Soldier’ had three single releases – “Circles”, “Prove me wrong” & “Falling”.
The main album artwork looks like a classic digitally painted concept art, with special care for detail. The background city paints a dystopian scene, with the foreground bearing a worn out soldier. The Seeking Blue branding is very minimal. A very evident difference between the album and the single artworks is the use of a broader border in the single artworks, giving them more white space.
Interview with Yoe Mase
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Yoe over text, and his description of the vision behind the album and it’s artwork really blew me away! M
Me – In the main album artwork, there seems to be a difference between the time periods of the soldier (who looks from 1950-60s) and the city in the background ( that looks futuristic). I’m not sure if it was intentional, but if it was- then what was it’s significance?
Yoe – Yes, it was intentional. The city represents the dystopian future of pop music I sort of anticipate. I love pop music, but any listener can tell you that in the last twenty years music has become more homogenized. Things just sound more and more similar. That being said, the Soldier on the art represents myself fighting an antiquated battle. My soul is in the past, yet I try to fit into the world of the future. That is essentially what the album is about — selling out, trying to fit in, discovering that trying to fit in only pushes you away from sounding unique and interesting.
Me – That is an excellent answer, and I totally agree with you about the state of the music industry. By the way what do those white dots on the artwork mean?
Yoe – So there is a meaning to them, but its something that’ll make more sense in time. All I can tell you right now is that it symbolizes a journey.
Me – Alright! I see there’s different storylines going on in the artworks for the singles. What was your vision for ‘Prove me wrong’? What does the grenade here imply?
Yoe -The grenade is much like an engagement ring and symbolizes that if this relationship were to fall apart, everything would be over. Not just the relationship, but literally everything. The relationship is symbolic of a relationship with music itself, as at that point in the album. It seems I am referring to a specific relationship, but halfway through the album we learn (or sort of learn I guess, since its vague) that I am talking about my relationship with music and stories – not a relationship with a person.
Me – I am listening to the album right now and you’re right, I do notice some stark difference between ‘homeless’ and ‘I’ve been a liar’.
Yoe – My music always tends to be about my music lol
Me – I’d rather say your music IS your life
Yoe – Yeah man I mean it really is. I focus on it obsessively, too much sometimes
Me – I understand. You said that the album is about learning how you push yourself away from your passion the more you try to fit in. Does the artwork for ‘Falling ‘ represent a similar notion, with the analogy of a young soldier leaving his lover for war
Yoe – The first track on the album is ‘Soldier pt.1’ and the last is ‘Soldier pt.2’, and those tracks sort of sandwich the entire album. But the second song is a song called ‘Falling”. If you listen to the lyrics closely, you will learn that each person that falls for someone, isn’t truly into it. The relationships are very shallow. For example the girl is just trying to get over someone. It’s sort of the shallow vibe of pop music, and the emotions people feel from it. It’s like I love pop music, but it’s not something that will give me chills.
Me – I am somewhat confused about how the artwork for ‘Circles’ and the track itself bind together?
Yoe – It sort of depicts a battle already fought many years ago, as represented by the overgrown tanks, but the Soldier is still harping on the past and is still obsessed with the relationship, as represented by him reading a letter he received during war. In terms of the connection to the song, the song is about how a relationship has gone sour, and it becoming repetitive, that relationship is once again about the music. The Hebrew words on the wall say “Circles” also
Me – I spot “Liar” written there too. So the “lie” here is sort of the promise of a good future in the relationship?
Yoe – ‘I’ve been a liar reference’. The lie is the sell-outy nature of the first half of the album. Or yes, the relationship with pop music.
Me – Amazing, this goes in much deeper than I guessed. Many professional producers like you have access to both the resources and network to get appropriate visuals. But many smaller producers who have a vision for their projects, don’t have such access. What would you suggest such aspiring story-tellers?
( Related: Learn how to make your own Spotify playlist covers )
Yoe – I would say, focus on your craft first. If you are a music producer, don’t worry about visuals and worry about the depth in your music first. I cant pretend I know how to draw or illustrate, but I can create a story in my mind. If an artist wants great art, they need to either invest in an artist with their own money, or invest in the music so someone else will come along and invest in the art. I think that is my best advice on that matter. It doesn’t come cheap or easy
Me – Thank you, this was all too beautiful and very informative!
Thank you for reading this review! What did you think about the artwork?