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Songwriter follows heart to develop music career
For the majority of young Canadians, living at home with their parents or in a shared apartment is the norm. For Joel Cossette, it is living in an old sedan.
“Everything I own and need is in there,” Cossette said.
Since last October, Cossette, 22, has been spending most of his nights in a 1993 Nissan Sentra. During the day, he makes a living by busking in the city he happens to be in at the time.
“I’ve been just been living out of my car and trying to tour full time. Basically, I am doing the whole homeless thing,” he said.
This weekend Cossette, along with his Nissan Sentra, will be in Nanaimo. The acoustic-pop-rock artist will be performing at Headliners with Trace The Sky on Friday (Jan. 24) at 7 p.m. He said being practically homeless has its challenges.
“Every day is kind of a challenge. I busk for my meals and I drive from city to city and try to get as many shows as I can and try to build a fan base as best I can,” he said.
Cossette hails from Martensville, Sask., and began playing in bands when he was 16 years old. In 2012, he became a member of High Hopes, an acoustic pop-rock band. As a member of High Hopes, he performed at the Juno Fest and as part of the Warped Tour. The band’s EP, Bigger Than, charted on iTunes Canada.
“We got do a lot of opportunities that I didn’t even think I would get to do with music like playing Juno Fest,” Cossette said. “When our album hit number 100 on iTunes in Canada that was insane. We got to tour in Canada out West and out East a number of times and that was insane.”
Despite the band’s early success, Cossette decided he needed to pursue music on his own terms. Last year he made the difficult decision to leave the band and pursue a solo career.
“I had a moment of clarity where I said I’d rather do this slowly and be 30 years old and maybe have half the success that I could have had but still be able to sleep at night and be happy with what I have because I did it the way I wanted to do it,” Cossette said.
Since leaving High Hopes, he has been raising money for an album through IndieGoGo, a website that allows people to donate to various independent projects online.
“I’ve raised $2,000 for an album off of that and it is still going,” he said.
As a solo artist, Cossette has faced a number of obstacles, such as living out of his car and his image.
“I am a chubby dude and I don’t really want to wear skinny jeans and lose 100 pounds,” he said. “I am not really about that side of music.”
Cossette said that even though his musical journey has become harder because of his refusal to give into the stereotypical male image that comes with being an pop-rock artist, he wants to set an example for others.
“I want to show kids that you can still have honest music coming from a normal-looking dude,” Cossette said. “It’s not all about the image and I really want to push that with what I am doing.”