Joe Wete is an anomaly. He's the type of person to always find a way. When something feels impossible he goes super hero mode and gets it done. When I first met Joe he was a freshman in college. He moved from Maryland to Oklahoma to play football as a D1 athlete but you could tell there was something drawing him away from the life of an athlete toward an artist very early on. His bold, eagerness to learn was relentless and the constant questioning of why things are the way they are, always perplexed him. He would sit at the shop and ask questions all day and I loved it because it would force me to question my own view of the world. Joe has that magic about him. He called me about a year ago and said "I'm working on a project". I said okay, what is it, what are you doing? He said I have no idea but I just took this photo of Dev Hynes playing tennis while I was out on my bike and I've been writing a lot. I said it sounds like you're making a book. Joe never likes the idea of something so easily explainable. We kept up over the past year, him living in NYC and me in OKC. He'd get my opinion here and there about various things he was working on until the project he had been dreaming of started formulating. "1701" was born. This interview is an ambient conversation Jo and I've been having in the background for months edited into something to sink your teeth into. This is Joe Wete's BY.SESSION celebrates the release of 1701 now available for preorder here.


Elyjah Monks: What do you want this interview to be about? 

Joe Wete: This interview is about emotion, virtue, and the inherent vulnerability of growing up. 

In short, the human experience.

I found you’re constantly hearing your inner voice. I started listening. I’ve become fascinated with this voice. In my world it always speaks in question. 

“Do you deserve..? Is that yours…?” It’s not always positive, sometimes it’s your far from virtuous worst enemy, while you stand innocent and ignorant. Sometimes it’s a mother’s warmth and you’re guilty. This is especially true when you jump into an environment where “it takes what it takes.” Everyone’s so caught up in formulas, the climb. We ignore the inner tension that breeds the rawest response. The purest product. Ourselves.

Elyjah: Has there been a moment in time where you felt a true change or shift in your way of thinking? 

Joe: The winter/spring before I moved to NY. I had just graduated and had 6 months left to be a child. I spent a lot of time deep in thought, but not the superficial kind I was used to. I realized the constant re-strategizing my come up, dwelling in the how’s, it never brought any lasting comfort. Instead, I focused my thoughts on what exactly brought me joy. What mattered. Perhaps everything I want will come once I’m aligned, once I start listening to myself. Once I start feeding my soul.

In many ways the magic is a study of “us.” The kids who care.

It’s pretty clear my emotions and relationships are what drive and inspire me the most. When i put my stock in the chase, I lost a lot of my identity. You’ll start to be something else. The warmth in your soul fades. I’ve pretty much dedicated my last 365 to keeping the fire alive. This reminds me of a line I wrote in the mag… “my candle lit soul.” 

The angry New Yorker stereotype is so easy to fall into. Hmmm maybe because people aren’t concerned about warmth, just the chase. I’d rather be warm than burnt out.

Elyjah: Why 1701?

Joe: All this talk about the progression, the journey, what’s the greatest journey of all?

It’s my birthday!

Elyjah: So where we’ve come from and where we’re going, nothing is less interesting than the final destination. How have you been able to connect with other people through their own journey? 

Joe: I like that, “boring final destinations.” We all suffer from MCS, main character syndrome. I had a couple homies write in excerpts talking about their experiences. I told them it can be about anything, literally. Even before the project, when my friends would come over it’d be like, ok just talk about something challenging, or something sweet. I have lots of voice memos on my phone of conversations. I like to go back and remember that other people are living lives, all the same complicated, stressful, euphoric, and at times bleak. 

One memo in particular I go back to often. My buddy is talking about how foggy his world is. About how he’s been following his conviction, not his “sight.” Your eyes can lie to you, but you know what your heart is calling you to do…. Inner voice.

Sight being the markers along the way that are supposed to let us know we’re winning. (Followers, accolades, etc). He mentions how the moment he plays the comparison game of what he has and deserves, it’s like life washes him clean of it all. He’s hit the bottom many times, yet here we are having the conversation, still. 

It’s just important to know we’re all kinda figuring it out as we go. Everyone has something you can learn from. I really appreciate my people.

Elyjah: “MSC” is hilarious lol. Sometimes my partner and I get stoned and walk/stand in random spots in our house. We will sometimes start busting out laughing as we realize how ridiculous we’re being standing in an odd corner of our house, which in of itself is kind of weird that it’s “odd”, but we call it “Simming” like we're NPC Sims characters. Noise, glitz and glam, the city that never sleeps. What keeps you grounded? 

Joe: Anyone close enough to me in the last 6 months or so has heard me reference “my world.” I’ve been militant about only following things that serve me. This disqualifies at least 80 percent of the pain force fed to us online. I saw a man lying in the freezing street, presumably hoping to be hit, angrily being honked at by drivers. But I’m supposed to be concerned about the latest outrage online, or why I haven’t been invited to xyz? This also applies to other forms of media we consume. I could count on one hand the amount of rap songs I’ve listened to in 2024. All my rap homies I love you still, just right now the subject matter doesn’t serve me. I can count on one hand the amount of people I have true interactions with. I’d need more hands to count the superficial ones.

It just boils down to what makes you happy, the freedom of outdoors and snow sports have been a source of inspiration for me, so the only way Ive allowed myself to exist online has been by forcing my algorithm into submission. There’s something pure and open about outside. My feed is full of dudes doing flips, and solo hikers uninterested in the latest it girl, or controversy. They’re free. Unfortunately our culture wants to box you into what you do, not who you are. Things you love become “hobbies,” a waste of time compared to that thing that’s supposed to make you rich and famous, at what cost? Can’t they serve each other?

I know people who are caught in the chase, and the idea that not being a part of the glitz and glam is as severe as death. I know people who’re “winning” but are angry all the time. It’s not about minimizing ambition, but instead being clear with what’s needed. I need to create meaningful work, share stories, and love my people. Oh, and recognize myself in the mirror while doing it…

For the record I love late nights in a messy club, but it’s more fun than something I must participate in.

Preorder 1701 Here.