Looking back on her new single “Super Model,” Josie Arthur (she/they), who releases music as JOBIE, is unsure if the lyrics landed quite like she wanted them to.
“I wrote the song when I was in a relationship that I low-key wasn't that happy in,” she told me over Zoom. “And I was thinking, if I was above all of this, I could leave.”
Arthur, an Emerson College student from Richmond, Virginia, has been making her way around Boston performance spaces, from open mics to Allston basement shows, to opening for fellow Emerson alum Sidney Gish this April.
They had women like Bella Hadid, who are “born superduper rich and just do whatever,” in mind when they were writing “Super Model,” which was released on July 5. However, they worry that lyrics like “I wish I looked like a super model” perpetuate the idea that all people should be striving for unattainable super model looks.
“[The song is] saying that mentality is bad, but I don't know if that's clear to somebody listening.”
If you listen to the rest of the chorus, Arthur sings, “Cause I would do anything I thought of/Private jets, trips to the Bahamas/To get away from you.” These lyrics argue exactly what she says she was trying to get across: in some ways, the Bella Hadids of the world really do have it easier.
The track opens with just Arthur and a guitar, its sound building with each verse to layer atmospheric synth effects, eventually adding a laid-back and understated drum beat, soft background vocals, and some pizzicato string plucks that still place Arthur’s velvety and powerful voice center stage. “Super Model” channels Soccer Mommy, Phoebe Bridgers, and something else entirely—consistent with Arthur’s idea that no one artist overwhelmingly influences her music, but rather bits and pieces of a multitude of songs.
Although “Super Model” is their most recent song, it was actually one of the first songs Arthur performed in front of people. They wrote it when they were 17 and attending a songwriting intensive at Berklee School of Music in Boston. The program opened her mind up to her own songwriting talents, and several years later she’s rising to stardom in the Boston underground music scene.
Becoming a musician was always in the cards for Arthur. She grew up in Virginia in a house where she was always surrounded by instruments and her parents making music. Her father was a career musician and although her mother was not a professional singer, she always sang with him.
Throughout her childhood and adolescence, she focused on musical theater, even applying to college as an acting major. However, songwriting was always in the back of her mind and during quarantine, something clicked. “I was writing a ton of songs,” Arthur said, “then I kind of realized that this is kind of the most important thing to me. And the thing that I enjoy the most.”
While she is still pursuing a degree in theatre and performance (and a minor in religious studies) from Emerson, Arthur has put her all into making and performing music.
The hard work has paid off. “Super Model” is a must-add to a playlist made for a cathartic belting session in the car alone. What really tugs at you however, is the desperation verging on resignation in lyrics like “The world gets warmer/I just get fucking colder.” The unsaid flip side of “I wish I looked like a super model” and “I would do anything I thought of…To get away from you” is I don’t, so I can’t. Arthur captures the frustration of being trapped in a world that values good looks and productivity over genuine contentment, the frustration of being against these sentiments but still wishing that the easy way out (being hot and rich) was within reach.
Being a musician in Boston, and at Emerson specifically, has been the perfect environment for Arthur to branch out and share her music. “I think it's so much fun to collaborate with people,” she said “I feel like college is such a community…Everybody at Emerson, they want to be a part of something.”
“Super Model” itself was a collaboration between Emerson students—it was produced by Aidan O’Flaherty, who releases music under the name Sean Waters. Arthur was playing a show at Emerson when O’Flaherty took a liking to “Super Model” in particular and asked Arthur if she wanted to play music together. A few weeks later, the song became what it is now.
In the fall, she’ll release a six-song EP (the genre of which she describes as “indie folk-pop, kind of”), releasing some songs as singles. This EP was made in a house studio in Richmond, Virginia owned by a mutual family friend. Arthur got to produce all of the tracks, and her father played on many of the songs.
“What I’ll be releasing in the fall is probably some of my proudest life achievements, if that doesn’t sound too cheesy,” she smiled. “I want people to hear it so bad.”
Although it seems that “Super Model” will live on as a stand-alone single rather than a piece of Arthur’s forthcoming EP, the new songs will surely feature the same musical and lyrical intrigue that listeners have come to love.