by Alexandra Hall
Josie Arthur is familiar with human reflection. Through her indie-folk music project, JOBIE, the singer-songwriter navigates personhood expertly with delicate vocals and strong lyricism. But for right now, she’s onto bugs.
On Oct. 27, JOBIE released her track “Earworm Lullaby” as the centerpiece of Invaders from Within, a horror film written and directed by Justin Landsman. The film tells the story of Paul Cody, who like JOBIE, is a folk musician. In the summer of 1977, Cody isolates himself in the woods and begins to have odd occurrences in his cabin with bugs. Even though he retreats to the cabin to get over his writer’s block, the lack of creativity soon becomes second in priority after his mind becomes invaded by parasitic bugs.
“They gave me the script for the movie and explained that the bugs take over this guy’s mind and write a song,” JOBIE said. “I said I was just going to write a song from the perspective of the bugs — I mean they’re becoming human for the first time. Like, how would that feel? I bet having agency in the world of humans for the first time feels amazing.”
“It feels good to be us / It feels good to be someone / It feels good to be real love,” JOBIE coos in “Earworm Lullaby.”
JOBIE has written from different perspectives before, just not bugs.
“I’ve written things from the perspectives of other people like my friends or even my previous album had the song ‘Grendel’ which was semi-autobiographical,” JOBIE said. “But it was also from the perspective of Grendel the character from Beowulf.”
JOBIE worked with Landsman, who said the story began with possessing the same fear many people have regarding bugs.
“I think another one of the biggest factors was folk music and the American folk revival specifically,” Landsman said. “I wanted to set [Invaders From Within] in that era or right after the death of that era. I’ve always been kind of fascinated by that. It’s kind of that idea of artists who are hungry for fame and artists in real life who have faded into obscurity.”
Invaders From Within is an interesting exercise for JOBIE as a creative and a songwriter, but she won’t be sticking with insects for the rest of her career. Noting her sense of meaning in having a platform and being able to put out content to an audience, she wants to shift from merely telling personal stories and instead challenging her listeners.
“You can just put out a song about your own heartbreak and have people relate to it — that’s great,” JOBIE said. “I’ve done that, but in my career and my next projects, I really want to put a mirror up to people and make them question reality. What’s the reason we’re all doing this?”
Her shift to existentialism is all but dark in her sonic world. JOBIE possesses a particular sense of grace in her vocals, one that despite their message sounds soothing and cathartic. Her obsession with the big questions makes the distilling process challenging but rewarding.
“I’m tired of people thinking that everything is one way, because there are so many ways that life can go,” JOBIE said. “I get angry, sentimental, and philosophical. I honestly don’t know what exactly I want to do with my sound. I’m laying tracks down and mixing, really trying to experience this new era.”
Bugs aren’t the destination, then. They’re the stepping stone out of one creative era and an assertive shove into a new one.
“I’m really glad that Justin asked me to do this because I never would be put in that mindset otherwise,” JOBIE said. “Maybe this era of my life wouldn’t even be starting. I feel like this is a really good jumping off point.”
As she continues working on upcoming projects and kindling an identity that both asks the big questions and attempts to answer them, JOBIE is a force much like the bugs in “Earworm Lullaby” — small, but powerful.
Album artwork and header image by Lida Everhart