INTERVIEW: Josh Healey (7/5/13)

Josh Healey is a  Singer/ Songwriter from Appleton, since we first met he has been carving a place in the northwest music scene, appearing on many local radio stations.
We couldn’t help get involved when Josh asked us to help promote a single he worked on that was making waves high up the Singer /Songwriter charts, passing such artists including Frank Turner and Ben Howard. We met up before his show at The London Bridge on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

[WAM]:  So Josh, the rise of your EP started to rise up the singer/ song writer charts this week, peaking at  28, ending the week at 31, this followed  your collaboration with Dan Fable, the single ‘Girl I Used To Know’, what chart position did that end on?
Josh: I think it was #100

Must be feeling fantastic, it has been a good week for yourself!
It’s been a mental week! To be honest, I’ve not really known how to properly deal with it because when you start to do something like music you think, oh if it charts that’s sorta the dream but you don’t think it l ever happen, but with the week I’ve had, I’m just a little pleasantly shocked.

When  did you first find out the single was doing so well?
Well i was actually taking my dog to the vet with my family (laughs). I got a text from Dan, and he sent a screenshot of the chart position, it was Girl I used to know at #199 I was like “holy….” well I won’t swear but i was like what the hell, it’s actually on the chart page, so then started ringing people and you like omg it’s actually charted !

So definitely wasn’t expected the single would do so well?
No, no even slightly, to be honest, it wasn’t even on the spectrum, of things that could have happened, you know , we recorded it , and put it out thinking, if people like it on YouTube, sound cloud, that’s all this was really for.

What do you think it was about the single that really connected with people? When you were writing/recording the record, did you think there was something special about it?
There were a few moments when we were playing it back in his studio  where we thought 30 seconds after pressing play and then you look at each other and you kinda smile and you go “ok that just sounds right”, but I don’t think we looked at each other and thought this is gonna chart it was more, for a bedroom recording which we wrote in a couple of days, this is really shaping up quite nicely, so I think we knew something special was happening.

You mentioned in your article for [WAM] (available here) that you met Dan at the BBC Introducing Masterclass,  you then became friends on the day, but what was it that got you both recording together ?
We met in the lobby in the morning, the class started at 9 and we were both there about quarter to 7 ‘cos we thought with traffic we wanted to be there nice and early. It was sort of by default  that we started hanging out, as the only two people there so started chatting and we sorta hit it off not just on a musical level but a friendship. Tom Robinson from 6 music, (who actually played ‘When The Wind Blows’ about a month before I went to the class) did a seminar and he said one of the main things was to collaborate and not compete with other artists so after the seminar we kinda half jokingly said well you’re only in Stockport and I’m in Warrington so we really should meet up and do something and so was Tom’s seminar I guess that kinda inspired it and a week later, Dan gave me a ring and said do you want to come round and I was like yeah, may as well.

Do you reckon you’d collaborate with Dan Fable again?
I think it’s already on the cards. He sent me a text this morning, saying we have to meet up soon I text him back “100% agree”, I think even if people don’t say it, there might  be a subconscious pressure to perform well again, but I think this has just been a special event, where the tracks quite naive, it was done in the bedroom, I think it was just one of those things that came together, so I think we will try to look past the pressure and just write again together and see what happens and maybe even make an EP, that would be quite fun, to see how the voices blend for 3 or 4 tracks as opposed to one.

Mid week and Dan & Josh’s single broke into the top 40 on iTunes, eventually settle just in the top 100

Back to your EP, ‘Lifeboats & Relationships’, the song that really introduced you to many people, [WAM] included, was ‘Niamh’s song’, it really seemed to be the breakthrough for yourself. However it was probably one of the most personal songs on the EP, what were your feelings about having it on the record?
Well, (pause) i think it was a pleasantly sensitive issue, because from Fred Kindt who recorded and produced the EP, had a lot of input with it, when I showed him the track and he added the piano elements to it, there was a moment in the studio where once he finished recording it and we were listening back to it, he said something like “ah you’re really bring out my deep side here” (laughs). You do feel quite vulnerable sometimes when you write something that’s as personal, but I think that’s what makes it quite a nice accessible song. Once you get past the potential awkwardness and it being weird singing it to strangers, or having it on a record, people kinda like how its honest and how it’s true, but definitely at first there are those sort of feelings but, I think it turned out to be a positive in the end so I’m glad I went ahead with it

How did your family feel when they heard it for the first time?
They actually cried! My Dad didn’t cry but he sort of, kinda nodded his head like yeah, that’s really special, obviously my mum and my sister, were effected more so by it. I find that reaction a lot. I found girls who hear the song seem to be able to related quite strong to it and they often say I’ve been there before, really sums it. The lads sort of, (laughs), you know what I mean, that sort of man appreciation without getting too emotional, “oh yeah, you know, that’s deep”.

Is your family/ your life a strong inspiration to your lyrics/music?
Yeah definitely, I think on this EP, in particular, the 4 songs on it are all about myself or my family, maybe not all always directly but ‘Need To Be’ (the last track) is all about going away somewhere and thinking about home and I guess home for me is family, so I guess they are always interlinked.

Where was the EP recorded and how long did the EP take to record?
It was recorded at Blue Print Studios in with a really special guy, Fred Kindt. He made the EP exactly how I wanted it to be in my head and more. He added, Piano and Percussion and a whole array of other things, so he definitely deserves a very special mention. I started recording the EP in December 2011/January 2012. The order of the tracks is actually the order it was recorded in, so it took about a year and a half to get from start to finish but the songs came together really quickly, the recording process was simply just fitting it in around work and busking and gigs.

So what are your plans for the summer and beyond as you were looking to go to Aberdeen University in September to study English?
That is still on the cards at the moment, there have been some question marks, top 40 singer /songwriter like I said, doesn’t really quite make sense. I’m going to Germany in 5 or 6 weeks to play a few gigs in coffee houses and maybe nip into Poland if money permits. But at the moment I think I am still going to do English but if anything I think it’s more of a back up really, especially after this, my time is now dedicated purely to music I think. I have already started to write a (future) album; with two or three tracks that are nearing completion at home in demo form so it is on the cards but music will probably take priority over the degree.

Are you not interested in taking a music based degree? Or would you rather music was something you enjoyed rather than have to study it?
I think that’s a really good point, I have obviously thought about it, whenever anyone asks what I’d be studying they say is it music? I’ve always found that with music, half of the pleasure is the creative freedom to be able to write what you want, and I think studying it for 3 years might change the writing process and at the moment I kinda like where it’s at. I think with English, it might help my lyrics come on, I guess as the whole singer /songwriter package, lyrics is really important to me, I like to be able to convey the stories. Thankfully it’s not maths so sort of in the creative field still, so I think I’ll probably stick with it for now.

I believe last time we spoke, not only a Singer / Songwriter but you also write poetry as well, are you managing to keep that up? Is that another outlet for yourself?
It is yeah, one day I would love to publish some work, about 20-30 poems in a small collection, in fact some poems I’ve written actually started off as songs and nearer the end of the writing, I was reading them back and thinking this won’t work as a song, it’s too complicated or won’t work well singing it, this needs to be written down and looked at in a different format. Id say at least  10 things I thought would be songs ended up as poems so  I think somewhere down the line I’m going to look into maybe getting something published and I think it’s nice as sometimes you don’t want to  what you’re writing, sometimes it nice to be read by a different person so they can make their own interpretations on how it sounds, (Laughs) good question that.

So finally, tonight you’re playing at The London Bridge, supported by Kyle (Richardson, Bass) & Greg (Ryder, Drums), are you enjoying occasionally playing with a band after many months solely on your own?
Yes! I think an ideal world would be to have a set which involves me doing some songs of my own and then bringing out a full band to accompany you for the rest of the set, sometimes the audience wants to hear that really gentle story about something personal or an interesting lyric but sometimes they really just want guitars turned up and a drum beat that’s crazy and gets your feet moving. I think Ed Sheeran is an example of how you can do that on your own, but I think for the majority of, us, who are using more conventional styles; you want the full band. Greg in particular, I’ve been playing with Greg for about 5 years, he’s one of my best friends and I’d always have him on stage, and Kyle has been an amazing addition, his harmonies and knowledge of music, the way he plays the bass has really changed everything. So we’re playing as a three-piece tonight and it sounds great and these guys ADD something i lack on my own, so as much as i do enjoy the ease of being able to play solo, I definitely would use a band again in the future. I think it’s silly to sometimes say It’ll just be me and a guitar, and also vice versa, as a band I think it’s nice to mix and match.

Josh Healey, thank you very much.
Thank you [WAM]!

You can download ‘Girl I Used To Know’ here & ‘Lifeboats & Relationships, the EP, here

Interview by Lee Harman

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