The Agnostic Gospel

Seeking Spiritual Unity Amidst Religious Division

Genuine Joy

is the musical moniker of Joshua Wolakan LA-based musician with an indie-pop soul and folksy heart. After a decade of professional writing and touring in Nashville, TN (most notably with the band Humming House), he moved out west to combine his organic performance with playful, candy-coated production. The result is a danceable-yet-melancholy, synthetic-yet-acoustic, simply sing-alongable delight. Listen to Genuine Joy now on all major streaming platforms.

STILL WAITING, the first single from the Los Angeles sessions, is a melancholy banger with a cheeky beat. Recorded with long-time friend (and incredible musician) Daniel Ellsworth alongside Humming House collaborator Bobby Chase, the song captures the immense creativity and musicality of the artists involved, layering chill vocals over indie-rock riffs, sweeping synth melodies, and a punchy piano part. It will be independently released on 03/03/23, with more to follow throughout the year.

NOW STREAMING — listen to Genuine Joy on all digital platforms

@6enuine9oy on Instagram | Genuine Joy Music on Facebook |
Please e-mail for early music access, reviews or interviews.


Resolution — the debut album from Genuine Joy — was produced by Mitch Dane and released by Soundly Music on November 16th, 2018. The album release show was a one-night-only theatrical experience in Nashville, TN, in collaboration with the dance company FALL, the chamber orchestra La Vie Quartet, and select vocalists from Portara Ensemble. The album is available to stream on most streaming services, while select clips from the live show are available on YouTube.

STREAMING NOW! | Hear Genuine Joy now on all digital platforms
FOR PURCHASE | Order Resolution on CD + other Genuine Joy merchandise

@6enuine9oy on Instagram | Genuine Joy Music on Facebook |
Please e-mail for early music access, reviews or interviews.

The Story of “Resolution” by Genuine Joy

Resolution uses dramatic elements of the 80’s — sentimentality, gospel, synthesizers — to convey an emotional, spiritual experience in song. From start to finish, an anxious and trembling voice evolves (with the help of others) into something graceful and sincere. Some moments are bombastic, triumphant; others feel curious and vulnerable. All provoke emotions, and compel you to release them.

In the depths of December, 2017, I went to Sputnik Sound to meet with Mitch Dane. I told him how the election unearthed a lifetime of pain that I had buried a decade earlier, when I left the evangelical church. I asked if he — a Grammy-winning Gospel producer — would want to help me — an agnostic musician — process those feelings through art.

Calmly and kindly, Mitch told me that “agnostic gospel” was… well, tricky. He had practical (and theological) reservations, and rightfully so. Regardless, he was empathetic: one week later, we had begun the spontaneous production of a full-length concept album. It didn’t matter what we called it: by meeting each other in the middle, we were creating something fully beyond us.

While the rest of the country was on holiday, we worked alone. Starting with an intimate piano performance on every track, we experimented with evolving acoustic and electronic instrumentation, from guitars to samples to synthesizers. We argued over what the songs represented and whether they belonged, often breaking for philosophical and theological discussions. We tested each other, but left space for each other.

At the turn of the new year, this collaborative spirit grew — and so did the album.

I invited my former Humming House bandmate Kristen Rogers to add powerful gospel-influenced vocals in angelic and ethereal layers. I also asked composers (and current bandmates) Benjamin Chakoian Jones and Bobby Chase to arrange strings in tandem. In studio, Benjamin conducted a trio featuring Bobby (Violin, Viola), Avery Bright (Violin), and Melodie Chase (Cello), elevating the arrangements.

I never questioned their choices, and I paid them whatever they asked. We were making art, together, creating a space and context for the voice of everyone involved.

We even opted to include a remixed — rather than recreated — version of my song “Carry the Flame” (2017), which was produced by Stephen Turney and features Caleb Mundy on bass with Nathan Wahlman on drums. Even as we tinkered with the sounds to better fit the context of the album, Mitch insisted that Stephen retain the producer credit (and Stephen was happy to oblige).

As my approach to art evolved, my life began to follow suit. By effacing my own authority as the author, I was letting go of my pain — letting go of my own story — and opening myself up to something completely new. Something beyond me, and in turn, healing to others.

Thankfully, I now have a record of that transformation — literally. Resolution will be released by Soundly Music on November 16th.

Resolution is a somewhat ineffable experience. From start to finish, an anxious and trembling voice evolves (with the help of others) into something graceful and sincere. Some moments are sparse, sentimental, and beautiful; others are bombastic, theatrical, and triumphant. And while the songs provoke powerful emotions — desperation, love, even laughter — they simultaneously compel the listener to release them.

Through sentimental pop hooks and synth riffs, the musical motifs provoke both motion and emotion, leading the listener on a mythologically sonic journey. Piano maintains a powerful presence throughout, but more modern sounds dance playfully alongside it. All the while, massive gospel-influenced moments evoke an eruption of the spirit.

This is not a record you can simply play in the background: it’s art, it’s overwhelming, and — if you open yourself up to it — it will break you.

Why Resolution? Because like the term, the record defies a singular definition. It was recorded at the turn of a new year. It represents the working-through of a disagreement. It is the consequence of a firm determination in the face of fear. It is the deconstruction of complex elements to simple components. And, musically speaking, it begins on a Bb and ends on a C (you’re welcome, theory nerds).

As I prepare for the album release performance, the spirit of collaboration that started this process continues to grow. I am currently working with other artists in other branches of art — mostly, the dance company FALL — to grow the stage performance into a spectacle. Honestly, I may have accidentally created a rock opera.

Time will tell… but as I learned in the process, it doesn’t really matter what you call a thing. The thing is the thing (and never the thing being named). It is what it is. It is beyond words; it is beyond me.

@6enuine9oy on Instagram | Genuine Joy Music on Facebook | The Agnostic Gospel

%d bloggers like this: