This is a continuation of the Josh Radin interview. Josh is about to share some insights and insider information with emerging artist that few other artist will! So take note!
J: I was looking at so many musicians, I think, in L.A. and New York
who would look at someone like me and say ‘well, you got this huge
record deal’ then they might be envious and think ‘now that record
deal is not available to me.’ But that’s not the way it is. You know
the record labels have a lot of money; Sony, Universal, they have a
lot of money if they believe that you’re an investment and they are
going to make their money back on you and make more money there’s
a lot of record deals to be had. It’s not like one person signs a record
deal and that means no one else gets a record deal, or – you know when
I start thinking about when my friends would achieve some success
I’d say you know what, I’m not jealous, not only am I happy for them
because they’re my friends, but also what’s good for them is good for
You know, I’m in a community of people, of artist and if I draw
some attention from media, or people like you, and I can talk about
my friends, that’s a community thing, I think. And even anyone who
doesn’t even know me, if they write music that’s similar to mine, a
similar genre, then my success brings more success to them with
labels starting to see they can make money with this type of music…
so I think envy is the worst thing that can possibly happen. I used to
have it, and when I got rid of it everything great happened.
P: There were friends of yours that were instrumental in opening doors
for you. Is that correct?
J: That’s correct. Zach Braff, by far, has been the biggest proponent of my
music. Actually, he was the one who encouraged me when I wrote that
song “Winter”. He said, “you know, you should record that.” And I said,
‘I don’t how to record music, or I’ve never even wrote a song”, or I didn’t
know what I was doing at all, and he said, “see if you can record it and get
it on a CD and I’ll give it to the producers of Scrubs, maybe they’ll want
to use it or something, you never know.” And so, I recorded it and gave it
to Bill Lawrence, who is the executive producer of Scrubs, and within two
weeks or something it was on the show. And I had a career. I mean it was
P: I love that. It’s meant to be.
J: I kind of think of it that way now. You know, my girlfriend Schuyler Fisk is
on this tour as well and we talk about it all the time because she has so many –
her mother is Sissy Spack, and her uncle is David Lynch, and I mean she’s
had all these contacts ever since she was a little kid, all these doors that can
be opened for her, and we talk about it all the time that sometimes you feel
guilty, sometimes you feel that people look at me and say ‘ well, his friend is
Zach Braff so that’s why he has a career,’ but I’m thinking to myself,
people can open doors for you, but you’ve got to keep them open.
P: That’s right.
J: And there are a lot of people who have had songs on TV shows, TV shows
and movies use songs all the time, that doesn’t mean that people are going
to explode and do well, you know what I mean? I think it is invaluable to
have the ‘who you know’, there is the age old adage of ‘it’s not what you
know but who you know,” but it’s both. It’s very important to have people open
doors for you, but you have to keep them open yourself.
P: Plus, listening to your music it is message music.
J: I just try to be honest. I just write what I’m going through. I think that may be
what people are responding to is that I never sit down and write a song and say
‘I want to sell this’ or ‘I want people to relate to this’ – I just write what I’m
going through and if people like it, they like it, or if they don’t, change the
radio station or don’t buy the album or whatever it is, but I think honesty is
always relatable. Especially with love, I mean I write about falling in and out
of love basically, for the most part.
P: Fearlessly, I noted.
J: Yeah, and the problems I had with screenwriting was I was dating this girl
and I’d want to put all these things about our relationship in the script and
I’d be so fearful of ‘oh, she’s going to know’ and this is going to affect our
relationship and all that, and then when I started writing songs I said, ‘you
know what, if I’m going to do this I’m going to do it honestly and I’m not
going to worry about anything but being honest.’ And, I think that’s helped
me out a lot.
P: What’s next?
J: I don’t know. You know, I just started this whole thing, so who knows, maybe
I’ll get bored with it, maybe I’ll just find a new media that I want to express
myself in. I know I’ll always be creative, I know I’ll wake up everyday and
want to create, but I could never say – you know, if you’d have told me five
years ago that I’d be riding around on a tour bus playing music that I wrote
to people, I’d say you’re crazy. So, who knows in five years from now where
P: What’s the title of the album, the CD, that –
J: I like to call it a record.
P: You like to call it a record? Well certainly that’s what it was called in my
J: But I call a movie a ‘picture’ – I’m real old school. (Laughter)
P: Regarding the re-release that Columbia has done, the title of it is:
J: It’s called “We Were Here”.
P: And the initial recording, the title of that was:
J: The EP? That was “First Between 3rd and 4th”. That’s where I
was living in New York. On First Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets.
P: Is that what that meant? I was curious about that. I love that title and
it just evoked all kind of images, but I never would have guessed that
is what it was.
J:“We Were Here” is my first record. That EP I did in late 2004 right as I started
writing songs. The song went on Scrubs and I said, ‘okay, I’ve got to have
something out there for people to buy’ at shows, or whatever. So I made that
and it wasn’t really ‘me’. You know, there are a couple of songs on there that
producers pushed me in such a way by saying ‘oh, you’re going to want a
record deal’ or ‘you’re going to want this’, so when I made “We Were Here” as
my first full record said I don’t need drums on it, I don’t play with drums, you
know, I just want it to be me; a consistent album that someone can throw on
and say ‘I love the way this sounds’, rather than a bunch of different kinds of
things showing a record company that I can do this or I can do that – I wanted a
cohesive project, so that’s what “We Were Here” is, and, I still like it, which is
P: That’s important! I just have a couple of other questions. Tell me about the tour
J: This tour?
J: Well, the Hotel Café is this venue, this tiny little venue in Los Angeles, that
when I moved there I found, and I said ‘ah, this is what I always wanted.”
It’s like a little Tin Pan Alley in New York kind of, its like Dylanisk; a bunch
of song writers with guitars strapped to their back, talking about poetry and
smoking cigarettes in the alley, and just kind of what I always read about and
always wanted to be a part of. In New York I couldn’t really find that. So I just
sort of made it my home. It’s like Cheers with guitars. You know, I walk in
there four or five nights a week when I’m not on the road. I know everyone
and everyone knows me and it’s just a great sense of community and we
wanted to bring that -- on any given night it’s (i.e., the Hotel Café) not like
your typical venue. Even if they get national touring act, the place only
holds 200 people…
P: Where is it?
J: It’s in Hollywood. On Cahuenga, just below Hollywood Boulevard, and there’s
no sign out front or anything, but it’s quickly become this really cool
singer/songwriter haunt, and even if national touring acts come through they
might do a secret show there and not tell anyone because it’s so small. It’s
just one of those cool, viby places, which sounds great, people are cool, and
you’re going to get into a cool conversation, you know, when you go there.
So, every night there are six or seven different artist on the bill, and we wanted
to bring that vibe around the country. So that people who live all over the
place and not in L.A. can get that experience of what it’s like to go into The
Hotel Café one night and hear a bunch of musicians you’ve never heard before.
Maybe you’ve heard one, and that person got you into the room, but it’s not
like a club where you’ve got a headliner who plays for an hour and a half
and an opener and that’s it, and the room’s dark. Like from 6:30 sometimes
til 1 or 2 in the morning you might hear great music. So, that’s what we’re
trying to do.
It’s sort of Lapolooza with acoustic guitars.
P: That’s great! Is there anything else that you’d like for the Emerging
Music audience to know?
J: I’m terrible at promoting myself. I can answer questions …
P: Well, you’ve been great, you have answered a lot of questions! I had
some questions, for example that I was going to ask, such as ‘while in New
York it seemed that you developed a strong, loyal following of fans and
TV/Film industry personnel who believed in you and your music’, and
my questions was going to be did you find that type of grassroots support
in Los Angeles, but you just answered that.
J: Yeah, I did. I found more of it in L.A. It’s interesting, I think, a lot of times
people ask me when I’m interviewed do I have any advise for other struggling
singer/songwriters or artist, and I would say in terms of music, the best
advise I could give is ‘do it yourself, at first.’ I had a lot of friends who
signed on to major labels with like a development deal or something and
it’s been three years and they haven’t had a record, their own record, because
at major labels the turn over rate is like a restaurant. One day someone at the
company loves you and then they are fired, they are gone the next week, and
there is someone new who thinks ‘well, we’ve got to take the company in
an entirely different direction,’ and you’ve been waited out. That’s your
career, you get one career, and I think the best thing I did was make this
record myself, with my friend, in his bedroom, and then built my own
foundation and then what happened was, I put the album, “We Were Here”,
oniTunes myself and it hit the Top 25 Albums in the whole country and
that’s when the label started to take note, but before that they don’t listen
to something and say this could be big. You’ve got to do it yourself, you’ve
got to show them that you can make them money, and then you bring the
machine on to be behind you.
They’re not developers anymore. You can do it yourself; you can pull out
your computer, Protocols, Logic, and record your own music, you know,
and L.A. was very helpful for me because that’s where all the music
supervisors are. That’s where all the TV shows and movies are made, so
at the Hotel Café, on any given night, you might have four different music
supervisors from these big shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs or anything
like that and they are just hanging out trying to find someone new because
they are always looking for new music. So they walk in there, and one day
I was playing a show and a music supervisor from Grey’s Anatomy was
there and said ‘do you have a demo’ and I said ‘I do.’ I had the album “We Are
Here”, I hadn’t even printed it yet, I had a demo of it on a blank CD and I
said ‘here you go,’ and I autographed it for him, and, you know, within a
month I had two songs on the show.
P: That is encouraging.
J: Yeah, that would be my advise for young singer/songwriters who are trying
to make it, who are trying to do what I’m doing. Go out to L.A., play at
the Hotel Café, and just talk to everyone you can, just find a community
because there is strength in numbers.
P: That’s wonderful. You have been so kind, and I appreciate it so much.
J: Ah, thank you so much. Great questions!