Human Head is the new industrial pop / hip-hop solo project of poet and storyteller Joshua Jones. Whilst originally from Llanelli, South Wales, he is now residing in Bristol.
Refraining from releasing music under his own name, Jones uses Human Head as an umbrella identity under which artistic freedom, exploration, and collaboration across the disciplines of poetry, music, and visual art are open to creative experimentation.
Joshua Jones from Human Head on Arab Strap…
The words that became songs under the Human Head name started off as poems. I started writing them at the end of 2018. I had no idea of what the end goal would be – if I wanted to submit them to poetry publications, self-release a zine, or if I even wanted to share them publicly at all.
At the time I was performing as a spoken word poet, performing at open mics and slams, supporting punk bands and touring. Music and musicality are always prevalent in my writing. Artists such as Joan of Arc, Modest Mouse and Nine Inch Nails are just three that mean an indescribable amount to me. For the sake of this feature, though, I want to write about Arab Strap.
I first discovered Arab Strap in my first year of university. I was studying in Southampton and somehow found myself in a group full of misfits and weirdos.
They blew my mind every moment I was with them. I’d go over to this one friend’s flat, where his partner and he lived with their pet ferret. We’d drink cups of tea and he’d play records from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and show me music he had been making on his laptop.
On one such occasion I walked in and sat on his sofa, realised the music he was playing was unfamiliar. I asked who it was, and he told me it was ‘Elephant Shoe’ by Arab Strap.
That album has stayed with me since. I get obsessive when discovering a new artist for the first time, so I delved deep into their catalogue, live sessions, YouTube videos, and also Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton’s solo records. New Birds on ‘Philophobia’ punches me in the heart every time I listen to it. It’s is about doing the right thing in the face of temptation: ‘You go home and there might be a slight regret/And you might wonder what you missed/But you have to remember the kiss you worked so hard on/ And you’ll know you’ve done the right thing.’ Moffat is able to craft vignettes of Scottish youth; of parties, pints and girls. Songs that perfectly capture young naivety and boyish bravado.
He also is able to create gorgeous moments of poignancy, of lusting for change and fortune. One example is Autumnal: ‘Could we move right up North, find a house near the shores and the banks? With a big fuck-off telly, a brand-new stereo system/ We’ll meet old friends at funerals and pretend that we’ve missed them’.
The ability to convey such complex feeling and imagery through simple language is harder to do than it sounds. Arab Strap make it look like a walk in the park. Listening to an Arab Strap album is like listening to an album someone who loves you made just for your ears. They don’t just influence how I write, though, but how I deliver it. They are unapologetically Scottish. I’m from South Wales, and Arab Strap give me the confidence to be unapologetically Welsh in my vocal delivery
That group of friends and I are all dislocated. Spread out across Bristol, Glasgow, London, Leeds, Kuala Lumpur, etc. When I listen to Arab Strap, especially ‘The First Big Weekend’ it reminds me of a time of being overwhelmed with discovery. It was a time of firsts. I don’t necessarily miss it, there are complications and regrets, but I miss them. Arab Strap have seen me through it all.
Many thanks to Joshua aka Human Head, for taking the time to profess his love of Arab Strap.
You can hear Human Head’s latest release, here.
You can read more from the Why I Love archives, here.