My Sweet Moonbeam: An Interview with Joe Barksdale

Joe Barksdale was born with a passion for music. He first picked up the guitar in 2013, in the midst of a personal loss, and hasn’t put it down since. It’s not just his love for music that shines through, but his willingness to consistently thrive to be the best musician he can be.

His latest EP, Sincerely, combines sounds traditional to rock, R&B, soul and blues to create songs that are uniquely him. The entire EP was written around the first song he wrote for the project, “Moonbeam”. The song explores the similarities he finds between himself and the moon - with the good, bright days come the sad, dark days, but it’s the moon that helps guide the way.

As for the EP, it was the confidence of writing “Moonbeam” that inspired him to write the rest of the songs.

“I felt that I was coming into my own in terms of the sound that I was going for,” Barksdale said. “I was really just thinking about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it, and before I knew it I had a handful of songs that were ready for recording.”

The song also inspired his latest project, #MoonbeamMusicMonday. The series will involve Barksdale releasing a song each Monday as part of a multi-project album for 2021.

“I’m a big believer in not forcing anything,” he said. “If the music doesn’t flow out of me then I just take a break and come back later. I always want the music to feel fresh and organic but still familiar and new. I’ve learned that the only way that works is to not force it.”

Another inspiration of his music is his family. His wife, Bri, and their daughters, Kennedy and Kendall, have been credited as the reason why he has become much more comfortable with experiencing and processing his emotions. His music is incredibly emotional, sharing details of past trauma and his struggle with mental health, and having his family by his side has allowed him to experience comfort in sharing the more personal aspects of his life.

He has written about his mental health previously on Black is the New AP Style, as well as with other outlets and throughout his social media. He understands the importance of speaking up and encouraging others to do the same, even when he’s having bad days of his own.

“I personally don’t believe that I will ever truly heal, but I do make an effort to bring it up whenever I can,” he said. “Not for me, but for all the misunderstood, downtrodden and overlooked people out there that suffer in silence and feel like they have no one to talk to about how they feel. I try to be a voice for those people and hurting people in general. I’m aware that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows [but] I believe that talking about the issues do way more good than ignoring them and trying to sweep them under the rug, so to speak.”

Joe Barksdale has taken his passion for music and given himself a creative outlet that inspires him and anyone who listens. Loving music has come naturally to him, and loving himself has taken more time, but finding and sharing love is what keeps his music brighter than the moon.