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Givin’ In: Joey Gutos leans into his authentic self with new music

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By Alex Gallagher

Even before he graduated from ASU in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship, Joey Gutos was passionate about music.

Although he admits that the purpose of his degree was to better understand the music business, he admits that he felt better prepared for the corporate world than the music industry upon receiving his diploma.

“It was a little strange because at W.P. Carey, they sort of prep you to go into the corporate world and into making a lot of money in a sugary, lucrative industry,” Gutos says. “Music isn’t exactly on their top priority as far as how they structure things. So, I kind of had to figure out a way for everything that I was taught to apply this to music.”

So, Gutos was tenacious about finding success.

“Having a lot of tenacity, energy and consistency is way more valuable than being business savvy, because I feel like you can get savvy at business as you’re doing more in general,” he says.

He started cutting his teeth at open mic events and with his high school friend Lucas Roth — both of whom attended Marcos De Niza High School in Tempe.

“I started not knowing anything about the music industry and not knowing a single person in it,” he says. 

“I just happened to start writing songs with a friend of mine, whom I went to high school with. We shared a passion for it. And we just started attending open mics and playing singing songs wherever we could be more people there.”

Together, the duo performed under the band named Tides in 2012 and would continue to play under different names until parting ways in 2018.

“It was just out of necessity,” Gutos says. “I knew I wasn’t going to stop (making music). So, I tried to think of a different name for myself or a pseudonym, whatever, and I couldn’t find anything that I liked, so I decided to be me.”

Since he started his solo project, Gutos says he feels that his music has become more authentic.

“I feel most at home with myself when I write about what’s going on in my world, in my life and inside of me,” he says. “I used to overthink what my music needed to mean and what I am trying to say, and at the end of it all, I think it’s good to be intellectual and to create concepts that people can latch on to and insert themselves into.

“But ultimately, it’s just expressing what’s going on in my world in a way that I think it’s the lens in which you express it that kind of changes artists from one to another.”

He ventured into a beachy, sultry indie-pop sound that can be heard on his most recent songs “Everything (That I Need),” “Bad News” and “Givin In,” which make up 60% of the works on a five-song EP that has not yet been given a release date.

“The EP is going to be a collection of singles that were all recorded at Highland Studio in Phoenix, but they’re all very different from one another,” Gutos says. “However, I think they fit together in some strange way.”

However, the songs all pay homage to Gutos’ hometown of Tempe and the artists who have inspired his sound.

“It’s got a lot of heart and soul emanating from the sultry streets of Tempe,” Gutos says. “If you’re a fan of Mac Demarco, Jack Johnson, Portugal. The Man, and John Mayer, you may resonate with this.”

Moving forward, Gutos is eager to do more than just music.

“I’m looking to be a multimedia artist, not just simply a musician or simply a songwriter,” he says. “Music is my main vehicle because that’s what resonates with me, but I’d like to make more films and I’d like to bring people together to make music and perhaps learn from each other through songwriting workshops or meditation workshops.” CT

Joey Gutos

withkoji.com/@joey_gutos

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