I recently had the opportunity to interview one of my favourite musicians, Joshua Radin. I'd like to thank him for taking the time to do this interview while he's touring. I'd also like to thank his management team, especially Jonathan Klear for being so helpful and nice throughout the whole process.
It all started with the song "Winter," but what actually pushed you to continue making music? Was it always a hidden passion or more of a "spur of the moment" type of thing?
Joshua: It was always a hidden passion. In fact, even my closest friends had no idea i sang in the car when alone. I guess I was always just terrified to show any emotion to anyone. As I grew older and went through some life changing experiences, I finally had something I was able to write about and not feel embarrassed.
Starting a band or choosing a career as a musician can be a lot of work. Some musicians have a hard time coping with the difficulties that come along the way. Has there ever been a moment where you felt like giving it all up?
Joshua: Not yet, fortunately. It's difficult to imagine getting tired of playing music for a living. How can things ever really get that bad, you know?
If you had a chance to go back and record your album from the beginning, is there anything you would change about it?
Joshua: Probably a million little things. But that's the thing I guess, if you look back on your past work and feel it's perfect, you haven't been growing as an artist, and that's the most important thing to do.
Has the album sold up to your expectations? When you look at your success - is it what you were hoping for, or still not up to the level you were dreaming?
Joshua: When I dream, it's being able to pay my bills playing music for the rest of my life. I'm paying my bills just by playing music right now, so I think of myself as successful.
Having your song featured on TV shows has helped a lot, but what role do you think your fans play in spreading the word about your music?
Joshua: It's probably about half and half. You need the word of mouth just as much as placements on TV shows and soundtracks if you're not all over the radio.
When did the first show take place and who were you touring/playing with?
Joshua: I did an open mic in the west village, NYC and they offered me a Saturday night show. So that Saturday night was my first show. I played the show solo.
Is there any song or musician you like covering the most?
Joshua: I couldn't give you just one. It would be a long list.
If you could pick one band or musician to cover your songs, who would you choose and why?
Joshua: I gotta say, I don't think this'll ever happen but if Dylan covered one of my songs, I think I'd lose it.
You have said that writing music is spontaneous, but is there anything that you could say inspires you?
Joshua: Usually it's love or lack thereof. Every now and again I'll get depressed about something (not as often anymore) and I'll pick up the guitar and try to express what I'm feeling, but I have to be honest, most of the time it's about loneliness and love.
We Were Here is about falling in and out of love, making the record a personal one. Do you hold back any feelings or do you let everything out when you write?
Joshua: This is what I've learned as an artist so far: it's only good if it's personal.
How much would you say musicians like Elliott Smith have influenced your music?
Joshua: Heavily. The first song I learned on the guitar was his "Between the Bars." Something in the way he wrote music and lyrics hit me hard; the world lost something very unique when he died and if I can reach people like he did, express myself as honestly as he did,
I'll consider myself very lucky.
People always make up descriptions that they think fit you best. Where do you see your music fitting into the current landscape and how would you describe your own music to someone that has never heard it before?
Joshua: I make up genres, like "whisper-rock" or "alterna-folk." Usually I just ask them if they like Simon and Garfunkel's music and when they say, "yes", I say, well, maybe you'll like my mine.
Has anyone ever compared you to any of your influences?
Joshua: All the time and I don't mind at all. The artists who have influenced me are my heroes and I'll never wince when compared to the likes of Elliott, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, etc. I don't really strive to be them, as I try to find my own voice every day, but what do you say when someone says, "you're like a young Paul Simon"? I just smile and say "Thank you."
You toured with Imogen Heap in the past and now one of your songs has been remixed by her. How did this relationship start?
Joshua: I met Immi while doing a little touring with her. She's absolutely a genius and I don't throw that word around lightly. Also, she couldn't be more humble and gracious. The fact that I was able to collaborate with her made my year. The rest is just gravy.
It took 2 years for We Were Here to come out after First Between 3rd and 4th was released – do you think it will take as long for the next album to come out too?
Joshua: Probably, maybe longer. I am touring "We Were Here" at the moment and I have no plans to stop for the rest of the year. I have been writing new songs, so hopefully around the beginning of 2008 I'll have the chance to get back to the studio. I still feel like "We Were Here" is where I'm at (musically and somewhat personally) right now, so until I really feel a drastic change, I'm going to let this record speak for who I am as an artist.
Will there be any more Schuyler Fisk collaborations in the future? What about working with Chris Holmes or Cary Brothers?
Joshua: I'm sure all four of us will work together at some point soon. Every one of us is really busy right now but I think when I get a week off I’m going to sing some stuff for Chris - he's started a band called "Ashtar Command" and he's having guest vocalists come into the studio and record some of their songs. I love his instincts and I'm excited to work with him, as well as Schuyler and Cary again.
If you had the chance to interview your favorite band or musician, is there any question in particular that you would want them to answer?
Joshua: Hmmm, I don't really know. When it comes to my favorite artists, I wouldn't want to interview any of them, but rather go out and have a couple beers with them. Or work with them obviously.
How would you yourself answer this question?
Joshua: I like it when interviewers ask random questions that I haven't been asked before, like, “What is your favorite scorpion record?" and then I'd laugh and say, "I really don't know; they're all timeless."
Is there anything you've always wanted to share with your fans but never had the chance to in any of the interviews you have done before?
Joshua: Hmm, I guess that I have a punctured ear drum. I think of it as my Achilles heel. I haven't been under water in about twenty years because I can't submerge my head in water or I’d have to go the hospital to drain my ear. But the cool thing is that I just got health insurance and I'm seeing a great doctor about getting that repaired. Pretty soon I'll be water skiing.