Joey Dosik is familiar with sports metaphors. “We came out of the gate strong,” the singer-songwriter notes of his signing to Secretly Canadian late last year, adding that his recent Jimmy Kimmel Live! gig was a thrill to achieve “right off the bat.” But he didn’t expect to base an entire EP off of sports — or rather one sport, basketball.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Dosik calls basketball his “first love,” before music. “My folks tell me that I started dribbling a basketball when I was one and a half years-old,” he tells Billboard. Though he never pursued the sport professionally — instead gravitating to his high school jazz band and attending the University of Michigan for saxophone — he followed the Los Angeles Lakers players and their stats fanatically, and still does. Ironically, it was during his recovery from reconstructive ACL surgery — due to an injury on the court — that the 32-year-old conceptualized his punny debut EP, Game Winner, re-released as a deluxe edition on Feb. 23.
“I was at my lowest, when I was in bed with ice on my knee, and somehow I connected my two childhood loves in this form of music therapy,” explains Dosik, who is also a frequent collaborator of Ann Arbor funk group Vulfpeck. “I’ve always been a songwriter, but somehow I’ve never written a sports song. Then it all just… flowed out.”
While the title track equates the “fourth quarter” with a last chance at love, “Competitive Streak” name drops Lakers icons Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and two instrumental tracks set the scene. Then there’s the bluesy, nostalgia-swept “Running Away,” the video which is premiering below on Billboard. And while sports music might bring to mind pump-up jams from Eminem and Queen, Dosik opts for velvety jazz melodies and honeyed vocals in the style of Marvin Gaye, treating the sport more like a choreographed dance than a muscle showdown.
Already, Game Winner has won Dosik fans in Leon Bridges, who tweeted his approval back in November, and Quincy Jones, who hand-picked Dosik for a performance at L.A.’s Lyric Theatre last April. Though he didn’t get to meet Jones in person (“I’m sure he’s got a million things to do,” Dosik offers), the legendary producer sent some “words of encouragement” to Dosik via a video message. He’ll keep it forever: “I was floored.”
For those still unacquainted, though, the “Running Away” visual offers maybe the best window into Dosik’s creative process. Put together over just three hours at L.A’s Complex Studios (a space originally built for Earth, Wind & Fire), the documentary-style cut follows Dosik as he records the track live in the studio, piano, background vocals and all.
“One of the things we can do, weirdly enough, to go against the grain in 2018 is to sit down at the piano and just play a song — to sit down and just make music,” Dosik says of the visual. “I wanted to strip down the song to that element. It’s literally a document of me in the studio, because it’s my favorite place to be.”
Stream the full visual exclusively, below.