INTERVIEW: JOSH OSHO
Josh Osho is kick starting a new breed of gritty Brit urban boy, meets souly singer-song writer. I catch up with the rising star, just before he steps into the studio to polish off his new EP (details after the big chat) and mixtape… in between a gob of breakfast.
We cover such bases as swearing, Tom Jones, hot L.A. ladies, gardening and Seasick Steve.
Imagine, just imagine that for a music video idea.
V: What you up to?
Josh Osho: (mouth full) I’m eating a pancake.
When he’s not stuffing his face, Josh the South London urban sweetheart, belts out some gorgeous, inspiring tunes of moving forwards in life, no regrets and rosy futures, packed with honest lyrics and sexy, husky tones.
I really like that you’re getting your point across in an uplifting, warm way without big aggressive rapping and swears; that’s a nice change. We’re you tempted to throw some swears in?
Nah, you know what, I’m not anti-swearing, I’m just very aware of how overboard people go now and people just accept it. I think swearing in context is powerful. You know in ‘Mumford & Sons’, ‘Little Lion Man’, where it goes:
‘But it was not your fault but mine. And it was your heart on the line; I really fucked it up this time’
No other word could have gone there. It’s now become a fad to have a swear word in every other line. I only use it when I really, really need to.
So when you say it, you fucking mean it?
It’s true. There’s enough words in my vocabulary to not have to refer to that. We have musical instruments, melodies, production techniques and lyrics that communicate our message without having to use it. I’m not saying that I never, or other people shouldn’t [swear], but I just didn’t feel the need to there and then.
He smashed onto the scene after grabbing the attention of Darcus Beese, co-president of the huge Island Records and dude behind genius discovery of Amy Winehouse. Since signing on the dotted line in 2011, Josh’s journey has had some incredible twists and turns, from an outing on The Jools Holland Show and collaboration with Ghostface Killah, to a personal request from the original, sexy beast, Tom Jones.
Your debut single ‘Redemption Days’ was released almost a year ago. What’s the past 12 months been like for you?
For me, it’s been more of the same. For everyone else, they’re seeing all these different things going on, but I’m always still focused on the same things. My thoughts are revolved around getting back in the studio, writing or my next gig; getting on the stage and connecting with people. I’ve been fortunate enough that people are connected [with my music]. It’s been a nice steady progression. It probably looks a lot more drastic looking in.
It does! You’ve supported the likes of Emeli Sandé, Rizzle Kicks and Jessie J…
I’m on a TV show in September, it’s something me and Tom Jones are doing together. Sometimes you catch yourself in those moments and it’s like ‘it’s amazing I’m doing a duet with Tom Jones!’ or ‘I’m supporting Rizzle Kicks!’, but in between those moments all I’m thinking of is performing and writing. You just see yourself as a musician and you see them as musicians. You don’t view them the way everyone else does, so it’s not all that crazy.
Were you star struck? Like, “Oh My God I’m singing with Tom Jones!”
No I wasn’t! I felt blessed, not star struck, I felt like I’d been given a gift and I appreciated that. I appreciate the gift of waking up each morning, seeing the sunrise or being alive for another day. Being able to perform with Tom Jones or being able to work with Childish Gambino (who feature’s on Josh’s track ‘Giants’) or Emeli Sandé is just another type of gift. I take them and I appreciate them and try and give them back to the world with my own music.
Aw, that’s very nice of you, you sound like a really lovely chap…
Whilst Josh has a fit of the LOL’s, I ask him about the video for his new single Giants below.
It looks like you’re having an absolutely cracking time. Was it a fun video to shoot?
It was, the cast there were amazing, and I really didn’t want to leave. The whole experience was really cool, it’s probably one of my favourites, and we shot it in L.A. My hearts crying at even just talking about it!
…yeah, all those fit ladies following you?
Yeah man, it was a really amazing experience.
Said with a cheeky chuckle, I’m left thinking, does what go on in L.A stay in L.A?
At just 21 years old, Josh’s song writing takes on a maturity far beyond his age. I want to find out if his roots, childhood and partly difficult, bad lad teenage years – to then turning his life around, has had an impact on Mr Josh Osho, the music maker.
Tell me more about your debut album L.I.F.E (Learning is Forever). Is it a biographical account of your life so far?
I’d say it’s a lot more three dimensional and perspective, than just about my journey. I’ve put elements of my own experiences in there, but I feel the emotional and spiritual place I go when I write, is a lot bigger than just my experiences. A lot of the things I write about are more far reaching than someone that’s just grown up in Tooting and gone through certain things. To some extent it’s biographical though.
Do you think your upbringing and where you’ve come from has helped you in the tough music industry?
Yes, I had an upbringing of two halves. I was brought up with a lot of love, but my dad didn’t have a lot of money at all. My mum didn’t, but mum’s always spoil their children. There’d be times when I’d go to my dad’s and there was no food to be seen anywhere, when there was, there was one yogurt kept in the fridge that has mould all over it. The floor was unvarnished so we’d get splinters and we weren’t allowed the heating on. It was basic, basic, basic living.
I went through a few troubles in my teenage years and you just learn that whatever the experience, the trick is to try and not label it good or bad. The one thing that stays consistent is that you can always learn something.
For 21 years I’ve been very up and down. It’s helped me be a lot more open minded, so when I am in the industry dealing with the things I’m dealing with, I’m able to step back and reflect a lot more than what I would have been able to. There’s a lot of people who just get caught up in it and before they know it, they’ve learnt their lesson the hard way and sometimes there’s no return.
So, the “Josh message” is that ‘there’s always lessons to be learnt in everything you do and it all ultimately contributes to your life-long learning experiences…’
Yeah, always. It’s a huge reason why I called my album ‘L.I.F.E (Learning is Forever)’. There’s been so many times in my past where it felt emotionally like it was the hardest thing to deal with and there was no way out. Today, I’m in a completely different situation that I would ever have imagined. Like even, two or three years ago thinking I’d be sitting in the Savoy Hotel with Tom Jones…
Or being interviewed by me..
Well yes! It’s true. None of this stuff was a reality for me four years ago. That just goes to show that essentially once you step back, you can create your own reality. It doesn’t mean to say that you don’t go through an emotional turmoil or you don’t go through downs, but you control how you react to them. You control what you take from them and how they affect you and where you go from there. If something bad happens, you have the option to take something from it and move on, or sit there and allow it to get on top of you and completely destroy something you’ve built.
That’s a nice way to look at things. Could I call you when I’ve got a problem, it sounds like you could really sort me out?
(laughs) Trust me, I sound all like positive and open minded now because it’s a sunny day….
You could have your own column in a newspaper ‘Dear Josh’…
Pondering for a bit over his next career choice, I broach the subject of what got him into this music malarkey in the first place….
It sort of came out of nowhere. I was always really creative, but I wasn’t that kid at three years old, going round the house singing into a hairbrush or wanting to be Michael Jackson. I was that kid climbing a tree, smashing my head against things, I was really crazy. I got to 14 and picked up the guitar out of curiosity. That’s where my music came from, curiosity.
Even now, when I write it’s like a journey of discovery; self-discovery, discovery of my own environment, discovery of emotions and thoughts. Me doing music was part that process as well, I was just picking it up to discover it. I’ve kept it going and people are accepting of it.
What do you think you’d be doing if it wasn’t for music?
I’d probably be travelling or I’d be a teacher, something that helps growth, yeah, something to do with growing.
You’ve got to remember, most people my age don’t know what they’re going to do yet. I turned 21 this year and got signed I was 19, so music was the only thing I had on my mind. I had no concept of doing anything else; this is the only career I’ve ever had.
There’s loads of young, unsigned, talented stars just wanting to get that big break. Do you have any golden nuggets of advice for them?
Don’t do it to become a pop star. The perception that you’re fed isn’t the reality. It’s the perception that sells. If the music industry was to sell you the reality of being a pop star, no one would want to be a musician. You have to really believe in what you’re doing and love what you’re doing beyond all the celeb parties and showbiz stuff, because that wears thin, very quickly.
A lot of people in those environments don’t know you, so they don’t, and can’t care about you. The relationships you start to build with people aren’t real and you can feel lonely. People talk about you in the third person all the time, because they view you as a product. People don’t take into account that you have emotions, have down days and negative thoughts. They don’t care about you, you’re just a product, and you’re there to make money.
If you want to do music, do it for the love of what you want to do, not for the love of a lifestyle. The lifestyle you see on TV is only a very small part of it. The other half is as challenging. The only thing that keeps me going is my belief in what I do and seeing what I do connect with people, everything else goes over my head.
Now Josh, who must I absolutely check out next? Your very recommendation will feature in the next exciting episode of Silent Radio’s Interview Tag Game…
You need to go and see Ben Howard live, he’s amazing. I don’t really know many celebrities, I’ve met loads but I kinda keep myself to myself…but Tom Jones oh my gosh! Or Seasick Steve, he’s amazing, he’s so humble.
Hey, why don’t you do a duet with Seasick Steve?
I’d love to! He’s going to come down to one of my shows. I’m going to try and bring it up with him, that’d be amazing.
We say our byes as Josh rushes off to the studio.
After just a 15-minute chat with Josh Osho, I feel like I’m ready to take on the world. I hope he’ll reconsider that Agony Aunt calling, y’know as a bit of side line to making music and that (with special guest columnist, Tom Jones).
We all need a bit Josh Osho love in our L.I.F.E, the lovely bugger.
Find out more about Josh below, including his upcoming second single Giants featuring Childish Gambino is (out on 8th October 2012), and the lowdown on his new release, The John Doe E.P.