Joe Kye: The Pizzicato Pop Prodigy

Joe Kye performing at Sacramento Has Talent.

Joe Kye performing at Sacramento Has Talent.

Joe Kye of the “Indie String Pop” band Joseph in the Well is preparing to embark on a new chapter in his already extraordinary life. On Saturday, May 9th, Kye and his band mates Casey Lipka (upright bass) and Andres Salazar (percussion) will play a special EP Release Show at Harlow’s, featuring the trio’s latest music off of their self-titled EP, with performances from local artists Ike Torres and RASAR. We spoke with violinist Joe Kye to learn more about his upbringing, his love for Sacramento, and his trio’s very busy future.


Though born in Seoul, South Korea, Joe Kye’s family immigrated to Boston when he was six. Joe spent this period of his childhood listening “to a lot of Korean music, from odd-metered folk beats to mournful pentatonic ballads.” After a few years, Joe’s family moved to Seattle; where Joe fell in love with music. Originally interested in the saxophone, Kye’s parents swayed his mind with conversations about the prestige of classical music. and ultimately took up the violin, an instrument he now considers “an extension of [his] body and soul.” That is not all that makes Joe so special. What makes Joe’s sound so unique is his combination of pizzacto, plucking a string instrument, with using looping pedals to build songs through layers.

Joe’s musical tastes soon became as varied as the cities he lived in during his youth, ranging from classical music to blues, jazz, hip-hop, emo-rock, and moody Shostakovich. Upon entering Yale, Kye’s conservative Korean upbringing was hit hard by a wave of unimpeded Americana culture. “I learned about the Grateful Dead, sang Barbershop quartets in Yale’s Woolsey Rotunda, and jammed to Beatles songs in the basement of the Society of Orpheus Bacchus (Yale’s a capella group).” This “shake up” lead him to create music that “[captures] the universality of sound while paying homage to its [varied diversity].”

Post graduation Joe taught English in Washington, but his musical itch kept tingling. His wife’s residency at the UC Davis Medical Center luckily gave Kye the opportunity to scratch it. Joe was quickly enveloped by Sacramento’s music scene. “[It’s] a smaller market, but Sacramento…has a depth of creativity and diversity under-appreciated in larger, industry-driven cities.” And his love for our music scene has been reciprocated: Kye recently won the 3rd Annual Sacramento Has Talent and was awarded two SAMMIES (Outstanding New Artist and Artist of the Year). These accolades are pushing Joe farther than he has ever gone before.

Joe performing “Happy Song,” in Seattle.


His band Joseph in the Well will continue to spread the joy of music in the coming months. After their May 9th EP Release Show, Kye and his band mates will be braving the wild on a national tour with stops in Nashville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. The band is also crafting up their first music video for their infectious single, “Happy Song.” The video combines Sacramento alleyways with animation and live-action to “bring a sense of whimsy and fantasy to the urban backdrops of Sacramento.” Joe hopes that the music of Joseph in the Well will “empower those who lack it, to bring understanding where there is conflict, and brew empathy where there is judgment.” This tour will give the trio a great chance to spread this message.

Head to Harlow’s May 9th to experience the local Pizzicato pop prodigy before he hits the road. For details on the Joseph and the Well EP Release Party, visit its event page here.


This blog post was written by’s Content Specialist Dylan Fisher.

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