Papa Joe Aviance is a clothing designer, musician and CEO of his LA-based production company, Papa Joe Networks. Born in Saginaw, Michigan, Papa Joe eventually moved to New York City to work his way up the ranks on Wall Street for several high profile companies. However, seeking an outlet for his creativity, Papa Joe moved to Hollywood in 2002 to pursue a career in acting and music.
In 2009 his first release, "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life," (a collaboration with international house music sensation Lula) became an overnight smash hit and topped the charts worldwide. The track hit #6 on the Billboard Magazine Dance Charts. As the music video from "Last Night..." played in rotation on MTV, Vh1 and other music channels, he realized how uncomfortable and dissatisfied he was in his own skin – at that time, Papa Joe’s weight had ballooned to 450lbs.
Papa Joe successfully lost and has, to this day, kept off 200 pounds by committing himself to walking. He accomplished his weight loss without the aid of weight loss surgery, fad dieting or an expensive gym membership.
He talked to us about his life in Los Angeles, his weight loss, and his career.
You’re a man of many talents! Designer, producer, and entrepreneur. How did you get started with producing?
Learning how to “produce” started when I attended film school in NYC. The training alone guided me throughout my sales career as a sales manager, which gave me the tools to coordinate and be able to handle multiple things at once. To be honest, I think I’ve always been a producer at heart. I love being able to brainstorm an idea and put it into action and because of this, I’m now able to take both skill sets (film and sales) and apply them to my business.
Tell us about the song “Now” with Eddie Amador, Alan T and Eddie Cumana. How did you guys hook up and what was it like working together?
When I moved to Hollywood, it was with the dream of pursuing an acting career. Despite some promising gigs I landed, I was still employed at a video store where I would watch hours fall off the clock and longed for something more. That something came along unexpectedly when Eddie Amador, world famous International DJ/Billboard producer, walked in to rent a movie. He and I got to talking about music and before we knew it, we were working together on a song. We ended up doing a mega after hours event at the Music Box Theater in Hollywood called, “NOW” which inspired our first production together of the same title. It was immediately signed to KULT Records, and after that, Eddie Cumana and Alan T were in brought into and completed the project. The “NOW” song represents my vision for how to be: Stop talking about it and live your life NOW!
What about your clothing line? How did you get drawn into that?
Joe Joe Clothing is an inspirational clothing line that allows people to feel empowered by wearing a positive message, as well as empowering others who see it! I’ve always been a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, but while promoting, “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” @ WMC ’09 (Winter Music Conference), I decided to take some “NOW” t-shirts down with me, and once people saw the positive message, “LIVE IT, LOVE IT, NOW”, my sales instincts kicked in and when I returned home JOE JOE NOW was launched.
What’s it like to stumble upon one of your designs in public?
I sometimes do a double take and say, “HEY, I KNOW THAT SHIRT!” But after that, or if in passing, I’ll give them two thumbs up and a smile! "For the STAR in YOU!"
Designing and producing seem like they could be very different creative and intellectual processes. Did you notice any similarities? Is there one you prefer more than the other?
Yes, I find them similar in a lot of ways! With both, I get to be artistic and creative, whether it’s choosing new fabrics, thinking of new designs, co-editing videos, or organizing production shoots. The fun part is challenging myself and making those ideas come to fruition! I can’t say that I have a favorite between the two, but believe me I’m never bored!!!
What can we expect to see from you in the coming year?
In the past 24 months I have lost over 200lbs simply by walking. That in combination with the release of the “LIVE FOR LIFE” single (Molacacho Records) with producer/label owner, Willy Sanjuan, has led me to take my message in a national campaign to motivate Americans in embracing a healthy and active lifestyle by launching the LIVE FOR LIFE TOUR. The Live for Life crew (Papa Joe Networks and JOE JOE) and I will be making more than a dozen stops across the United States beginning April 27th and ending back on the West Coast May 18th.
In addition to that, I have two short films that I’ve produced and will be submitting to film festivals and course I will continue to be LIVIN’ FOR LIFE and putting out more music… STAY TUNED!