Josh The Cat

by the partae

Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?

I’m currently based in Melbourne and the scene is just bubbling with amazing and diverse artists. It really pushes you and it’s so great to have so many talented people as your friends and peers. Just last night I had a rehearsal with my new super band for my single launch show next week and earlier in the day another one with my friend Georgia Fields, I’m playing guitar in her band. It’s so cool that this is what a day might consist of here.

How did you end up in Berlin?

I wanted to explore the big world out there and I also wanted a chance to reinvent myself and explore the possibilities without any preconceptions. I felt like, in order to go deeper, I needed to distance myself from the comforts of home and just see what happens. Berlin is a city full of a lot of people with the same sort of intention and it was just such a buzz to be there amongst all these creatives, from all over the world, coming to the city to try new things. Sure, a lot of people are there to party but with focus, you can get a lot done there and it was amazing being able to have this creative laboratory and then being able to just jump on a train to another city, or even country, in a few hours. In Berlin is where I developed my production skills, producing EPs and albums for other artists and also I did a lot of touring as a guitarist around Europe with fellow Melbourne artist Phia. Berlin was like a gateway to the world: I played in old power station warehouses in Germany, ancient cities in Italy, at a Warlock’s witchcraft museum in Iceland and so much more.

You have new music out, please tell us about what influenced the sound and production?

I was really influenced by a lot of 90s and 2000s pop, reaching a little bit back to the late 80s too. I wanted to make a song that felt like back when I would create mixtapes for long car drives as a kid, or for that house party jam. I drew on the Dangerous era Michael Jackson, plus tracks like Return of The Mack by Mark Morrison, Murder on the Dancefloor by Sophie-Ellis Bextor, Discovery-era Daft Punk and the awesome dancefloor ballad Teardrops by Womack & Womack. For me, they’re all fun tracks, but serious works of art too.

How do you usually go about writing tracks?

There are sort of two ways. I often find myself humming something, or some lyrics just come into me head, and I record it into my phone. The other is when I’m playing with a guitar sound, or a synth, and something about it just inspires me to do something or explore. Then I take the that to my laptop and lay down some of the ideas and start building from there. Before I know it hours have gone by and I haven’t moved. After this, I have usually inherited a stiff back but usually come away with a nearly complete song.

Where and when did you record and who with?

The recording happened all over. It started initially in Berlin. I recorded the vocals sometime after midnight when a friend of mine Jim Hickey, got some free out of hours recording time at a great studio in Prenzlauer Berg. I did some of the synth stuff there too. Then the song got worked, and reworked a few times. I knew it needed something else and so whilst I was visiting Melbourne I got my friends Luke Hodgson (who is playing with Angus & Julia Stone and Todd Rundgren!) to play my bassline in a much funkier way and Graeme Pogson (GL, Harvey Sutherland, The Bamboos) to add some extra drums to liven it up. We recorded this with my mate and all round legend Nic Lam. I felt like the track needed something with a little extra sweetness and I asked my friend Ed Gould in Alice Springs and he sent down a saxophone solo. I then got it mixed by Justin Tresidder who had worked on some of Holly Vallance’s work.  He was suggested to me by Josh Abrahams (of Totally Addicted to Bass fame) and when I found out he had worked with Holly Vallance on “Kiss Kiss” I knew he would really understand where I was coming from with this old school pop sound.

How did you first start playing music?

I had some piano lessons as a kid but I foolishly thought it wasn’t cool enough and switched to guitar after I got heavily into The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Metallica. After I finished high school I discovered Miles Davis and my mind was opened up to a whole new realm and approach to music making. I didn’t realise before that you could make things up on the spot, like with improvising, and realised that in a way songwriting is just a really slowed down form of improvising. Or that improvising is a hyper fast way of writing. Jazz was never my strong suit but it was a great journey that’s put me on a path of appreciating music a whole lot more deeply.

You’re involved with Melbourne Indie Voices, can you please explain what this is all about?

Melbourne Indie Voices is a huge choir, that runs twice a week, that I play electric guitar for. I’m probably not the first, but I don’t know any other choir that has electric guitar in it – I even throw in fuzz distortion and other things in there. But it’s not about the guitar. What it is about is mostly indie pop, especially Australian stuff. It’s all uniquely and exceptionally well arranged and led by Phia, who is a songwriter, singer and looping artist herself. We’ve covered Ainslie Wills, Kira Puru, Laura Jean, Husky, Jen Cloher, Janelle Monae, Tune-Yards, Fleet Foxes and have most recently performed at an event for Julia Gillard and have collaborated with the Koorie Tiddas Youth Choir. It’s really great to be able to say that this is my day job.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Mac DeMarco. I just love how simple his production and songwriting is. It just flows and puts me in a relaxed mood and reminds me things can be a little simpler if I just allow them to be.

What do you have planned for the remainder of 2018 going into 2019?

I have got so many songs on my harddrive that I want to finish and I’ve made a shortlist of what’s coming next, so I’m going to work hard on putting the finishing touches on them. I’m also planning to get out another single out soon and doing a bunch of band shows and solo shows too. I just had a rehearsal last night with my band for my single launch next week and I’m just super pumped to be playing again and really excited to share my new music.

Favourite food and place to hang out?

Anytime, anywhere – Indian food always makes me happy. My favourite place to hang out and just collect my thoughts is The Convent in Abbotsford, there’s some really nice cafes and places to walk in there.

When and where are you playing next?

I’m launching my single, and music video, at The Gasometer Upstairs on Tuesday September 25 and it is the debut of my super deluxe band. I’m really excited and honoured to get to play with Ryan Monro on bass (The Cat Empire), Holly Thomas on drums (Husky, Fraser A Gorman), Nic Lam synth/guitar/BVs (Meg Mac, Elliot) and Phia on BVs/synth. I’ve also got Charlz and Nik Navy supporting and they both really fantastic artists worth checking out. I’m also heading up to Sydney on Wednesday October 10 for a special solo show at an event called FolkSwagon which is at Cafe Lounge that I’m really looking forward to.

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