Joel Cossette performs at Headliners on Friday (Jan. 24) at 7 p.m.

Songwriter follows heart to develop music career

NANAIMO – Singer-songwriter Joel Cossette performs at Headliners on Friday (Jan. 24).

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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RDN budget includes unexpected $1.5 million for sewer pipe replacement

Pipe corrosion at Departure Bay discovered in December

Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 20

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

Nanaimo loses longtime soccer supporter

Leo Beier had an impact on hundreds of athletes during a decades-long devotion to soccer

‘Stretched’ art show returns to Gabriola Island

Artists challenged to create works on six-by-36-inch long canvases

Snuneymuxw flag once again flying atop Nanaimo City Hall

Ceremony held Thursday to return flag after it was taken down in 2017

Snuneymuxw flag once again flying atop Nanaimo City Hall

Ceremony held Thursday to return flag after it was taken down in 2017

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

Resident discovers five discarded hog heads in Vancouver Island ditch

WARNING: Graphic image may be upsetting to some readers

Malware infiltration slows production at Island pulp mills

Infestation affecting Crofton, Alberni, Powell River Paper Excellence operations

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Most Read