Following myriad musical and travel experiences throughout his early life, multi-instrumentalist Joel Wästberg emerged under the pseudonym sir Was with a fluid approach to his genre-bending music.
Molding his songs from hip-hop beats, textural synths, pop structures, and ambient production flourishes, sir Was' wide-ranging musical identity was showcased on his 2017 debut full length Digging a Tunnel.
Wästberg grew up in Frillesås on the western coast of Sweden, and played music from an early age, starting with the saxophone at ten. He left his childhood home at 18 and studied jazz saxophone at a Folkhögskola in southern Sweden. After his studies he performed in a variety of ensembles, and even jammed with Sean Lennon in New York. Ever restless, Wästberg traveled to South Africa, where he spent some time at the University of Kwasulu-Natal in Durban. While there, he became increasingly interested in the Pan-African rhythms he encountered. This fascination deepened as he traveled through Mozambique and Zimbabwe and, emboldened by his experiences, decided to start making his own music. He recorded his debut record, Digging a Tunnel, between autumn 2014 and spring 2015, playing all the instruments himself. In the run-up to its early 2017 release, he first put out his 2016 EP Says Hi, which featured single "A Minor Life," which would appear again on Digging a Tunnel. The material hinted at the multitude of styles and influences Wästberg drew from, incorporating bagpipes, synths, samples, and his own sweet and fragile vocals. Second album Holding on to a Dream materialized in 2019. It was preceded by the release of lead single "Deployed," a collaboration with Little Dragon. ~ Bekki Bemrose, Rovi