Upstate New York indie band Joywave charges their electro-dance grooves with a post-punk rock edge. Emerging in the early 2010s, they had their first breakthrough with their appearance on Big Data‘s single “Dangerous,” which became a chart-topping hit the same year as the group’s 2015 debut How Do You Feel Now? arrived. Their darker, more streamlined sophomore effort Content was issued two years later, becoming their second Top Ten on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. In 2020, they kicked off the decade with album number three, the Voyager Golden Record-sampling Possession.
Formed in Rochester in 2010 by vocalist Daniel Armbruster, guitarist Joseph Morinelli, bassist Sean Donnelly, keyboardist Travis Johansen (later replaced by Benjamin Bailey), and drummer Paul Brenner, Joywave first offered up a sample of their ’80s-inspired electro tunes in early 2011 with the single “Golden State.” They earned a fair amount of attention through a series of online mixtapes that meshed original tunes with other artists’ material, all remixed to include Joywave‘s signature playing and vocals. In addition to these mixtapes and early single releases, the band released the Koda Vista EP in 2012 and the How Do You Feel? EP in 2014.
Apart from their own releases, Joywave made frequent guest appearances on their friends’ singles, showing up in the role of both remixers and guest performers on standout recordings by Big Data and Betty Who. The Big Data collaboration, titled “Dangerous,” reached the top of U.S. alternative charts in 2014, was licensed for multiple screen appearances, including the feature film Veronica Mars, and led to Armbruster performing live vocals for the song on U.S. TV’s Late Night with Seth Myers.
Recorded back home in Rochester, Joywave‘s full-length debut, How Do You Feel Now? (which added seven tracks to the four on How Do You Feel?), was released in the spring of 2015 on their own Cultco Music label, an imprint of Hollywood Records. The set featured an appearance by KOPPS on the international dance chart hit, “Tongues,” which was remixed by RAC, Big Data, and even Giorgio Moroder. The following year they issued SWISH, a compilation project based on the single “Destruction” that featured an album’s worth of reinterpretations alongside the HDYFN? B-side “Life in a Bubble I Blew.”
In 2017, Joywave parted ways with bassist Donnelly and started a new album cycle with “Content,” the title track from their sophomore LP. Content also featured charting singles “Doubt” and “It’s a Trip!” Their promotional tour efforts culminated in 2018 with a national trek alongside Thirty Seconds to Mars, Walk the Moon, and MisterWives. In the midst of the journey, Joywave issued the non-album track “Compromise.” Singles “Blastoffff” and “Like a Kennedy” arrived in June of the following year, the first offerings from album number three. Before that LP’s arrival, three additional singles were released through 2019. This protracted release schedule eventually culminated with their third full-length, Possession. Issued in early 2020, the set featured samples from Carl Sagan‘s intergalactic 1977 compilation, the Voyager Golden Record, and touched upon ideas that examined modern distractions and self-preservation. The following year the band released the EP Every Window Is a Mirror, which explored themes of social and political polarization