The Student Pocket Guide | Josh Record Interview
by Thomas O’Connell
Josh Record is steadily gaining a name for himself as one of the UK’s most promising acts, having already supported the likes of Sam Smith, London Grammar and Lorde. However, the London-based musician looks set to take centre stage with the release of his debut album ‘Pillars.’ The SPG caught up with Josh to discuss awkward tour dedications, Beyoncé tendencies and being a bad influence!
Hello! How was your bank holiday?
It was busy; we did the Dot to Dot festival, so that was the whole weekend taken up. We did Nottingham, Manchester and Bristol.
‘Wide Awake’ [Josh’s new single] is out July 7th. What’s the song about?
I think a lot of people get into this situation; you sort of end up in love, but never really meant to get to that point. Then, you sort of realise ‘sh*t, this isn’t what I thought would happen.’ It’s about suddenly realising that actually you’re not in love. Yeah, it’s a bit sad really.
Yeah, it’s a bit pessimistic…
(Laughs) It doesn’t happen every time, thank God! Obviously, all my songs are from personal experience – it’s just about realising you’ve got so much love for someone, but you’re not in love with them. The song is kind of saying ‘I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have let it get to this point.’
Does the person know you wrote it about them?
Hell no! There are a few songs in my set, which are not necessarily the most positive or nicest. There have been times when the people they’re about have been present. That’s always awkward, but you kind of want to dedicate it to them at the same time. (Laughs) It’s awkward!
‘Pillars’ [Josh’s debut studio album] is released July 14th. What can people expect from the album?
It’s definitely a journey. I’m hoping it’s like the music I love to listen to – where you can put it on, not skip any tracks and it becomes a soundtrack for any situation. There’s a mixture of happy tracks and sad tracks really. Musically, it’s difficult to describe your own sound as you just hope people listen to it. I guess I could be described as the lovechild of Marcus Mumford and Bon Iver. That’s the type of stuff I’ve read, which could potentially describe my sound.
You wrote a lot of songs whilst attending the BRIT School. When you signed to a label was it difficult considering their input?
No, not at all to be honest! The BRIT School was a long time ago, when I was at college. I didn’t want to be an artist as such, I just loved writing songs. I kept writing until I found something genuine, which was ‘The War.’ Once I released that, Zane Lowe downloaded it off YouTube and played it on Radio 1. It was really nice to have that kind of interest from something I created separate from anybody else. I think that’s given me a good chance to stay true to who I am. I co-produced the album, so I feel you’re getting the real me rather than a watered down version.
Do you have a favourite track from the record?
Oh that’s a difficult question…I think my favourite is Alaska. I wrote it when I was in Alaska. It brings back so many good memories from this road trip I did, where we drove from New York to Alaska. I wrote it outside, next to a glacier. It feels like I’m back there when I listen to it.
Your family played a major role in your musical upbringing – especially your Dad [a DJ for the Forces in Malta and Germany]. Have you played him the record?
He’s listened to parts of it, but I want to wait until he can get the whole thing. That will be a special moment for him. The bits that he has listened to he’s loved. When he hears things that are influenced by music he’s shown me, he’s like ‘oh, that’s a bit like this artist.’ He definitely gets really excited by it.
So, he’s going to try stealing some of the credit?
(Laughs) Oh yeah, but it’s definitely me who wrote them.
When you were younger you forced your sisters to sing harmonies for you. Does that make you the Beyoncé of the Record family?
(Laughs) Exactly that! I am the Beyoncé of the record family – I like that.
You’ve already supported some massive names like Bastille, Lorde, London Grammar and Sam Smith – we actually saw you on Smith’s Birmingham date. Which of those artists was the wildest on the road?
Well, it certainly wasn’t Lorde because I couldn’t take her out in London – she was too young, which was really annoying. I was asking her to come out, but she was like ‘oh no, I can’t I’m sixteen’ or whatever. You know what? I’m struggling to think of any wild stories because I think I was the most wild. (Laughs) I enjoy my whisky, so I can’t really remember much of it – that’s a really bad answer isn’t it? Those artists aren’t the wildest of bands, how boring is that?
You’re the bad influence then?
I am the bad influence! I don’t usually drink to get drunk; I do genuinely enjoy whisky and heard it’s good for your voice. On Sam Smith’s tour, I was actually ill at the time so I was drinking a fair amount of whisky before I went on stage – as a medicinal thing.
Oh yeah, purely medicinal…
(Laughs) Yeah! During the last gig, I remember Sam saying before I went onstage with a whisky, ‘oh Josh, don’t drink whiskey mate it’s really bad for your voice.’ (Laughs) I was like ‘oh now you tell me, when I’ve done the whole tour on half a bottle of whisky.’
You’re appearing at various festivals this summer. Is it a daunting prospect playing to bigger crowds?
Yeah, but the bigger crowds are awesome. The biggest gig I’ve done was in Holland with a guy called Rodriquez, and that was around 6,000 people. That was incredible; it was actually the best experience of my life. So, I’m waiting for another one of them. The festivals are great, but you can’t get too daunted by it. You just have to go onstage sing your heart out and hope people enjoy it.
In October, you will be playing some headline dates. In three words, describe the Josh Record gig experience to us?
You can use hyphens if you want to double up your word count.
You’ve asked some really good questions! That’s on the spot. I’m going to say holistic because it’s visuals, sound and feeling. Then, I’d say dark. Sh*t, what’s the third word? Can you help me out? Actually, you’ve only saw me in Birmingham and that wasn’t my best gig (laughs).
Now we have this post-knowledge, we would say medicinal.
Medicinal, that’s quite a good word…
Yeah, your music is quite therapeutic.
Yeah, I like that. Medicinal – that’s the word.
Josh Record’s new single ‘Wide Awake’ is released July 7th, and the debut album ‘Pillars is released July 14th. The UK tour dates can be found below:
- LONDON – Scala – October 9th – www.communionmusic.co.uk
- MANCHESTER – St Philip’s Church – October 10th – www.gigsandtours.com
- GLASGOW – Oran Mor – October 12th – www.gigsinscotland.com