THE excellent Josh McGovern…
has been telling me about his new single, Weight, and how it came together. He reveals his favourite albums and the artists who have inspired him; what it is like being based down in Brighton – McGovern tells me whether more material will be arriving.
I ask the songwriter whether he has a favourite memory from music; if he gets time to unwind at all; which rising artists we need to seek out; whether there will be touring dates – he ends the interview by selecting an awesome cut.
Hi, Josh. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi. My week has been great thank you. Me and my band just got back from playing The View Stage at Boardmasters. So tired but happy!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure. I’m a singer-songwriter from Brighton who makes Folk/Americana music.
Weight is your new single. Can you reveal its origins and story?
Weight is one of my more honest songs. It’s a fairly dark piece about loss and mental-health. You know; the real things people face every day. I wanted to make something real people could relate to, so I wrote Weight.
Listening to it and I can tell it means a lot to you. Was it emotional and tough recording the song?!
For me, each song represents a different period of my life. I mostly tend to write autobiographically about experiences I’ve had in my own life or those around me. Weight was written about a particularly hard time for me so recording it and singing it, especially, was quite an emotional experience.
Will there be more material before the end of the year? What are you working on?
I have lots of songs written and recorded. I hope to release a proper record as soon as I can. I’m also planning a winter tour.
Brighton is where you are based. Is there a pretty eclectic and interesting scene down there? Where should we visit if we head down?
Brighton is an amazing thing. Everything, including the music, has always been eclectic. There is a growing community of Folk musicians down here; we all get together and play shows with each other at nights like Folklore Sessions - it’s starting to become a real community.
Which artists compelled you growing up? What sort of music were you raised on?
My dad brought me up on artists like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. Although, he wasn’t a musician himself he made sure I understood the importance of music and the value it holds.
Do you recall when you got into music? Was there a time or moment when you knew you had to chase it?
For me, it was being a kid watching videos of Neil Young perform. I remember watching a video of him playing in his twenties at Massey Hall; he was singing Ohio, I think. I kinda knew then that it was something I wanted to do; I haven’t really looked back since.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Having just released my third single, Weight, I’m still caught up in the excitement of that. I plan to put my debut record together as a lot of people keep asking me to release one after hearing the singles.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
It’s all been special. It’s hard for me to say but, if I had to pick, I would say the time me and my band spent at Retreat Recording Studios. It was a seriously humbling experience to record in the studio. Some of my favourite records have been made there – and it was good to work with Ben Thackeray, who has been a part of so many amazing projects.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
That’s a hard one!
Nathaniel Rateliff - In Memory of Loss
This record will always be in my top-three. For me, it was the sound to my late-teens and will always hold a special place in my heart - if you haven’t, you gotta hear it, man.
Neil Young - Harvest
Growing up, I always used to pretend I was in my own movie. Everyone’s got their theme music: this album was mine growing up. It’s my bread and butter.
Marty Robbins - Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
This is a bit of an obscure choice I realise, but my grandad in Ireland used to sing songs from it all the time. When I got older and listened to it properly, I realised it was a masterclass in Country harmonies and songwriting. I’ve been fascinated by it since.
I could go on with Johnny Cash, Bon Iver; Leonard Cohen etc. but those are my top three (I think...).
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
It would be a dream to support so many artists but, if I could pick any artist in the world, it would have to be Laura Marling. Forget the rider; opening up a show for her would be enough!
How important is it being on stage and playing? Is it possible to describe the emotions you feel when connecting with fans in the audience?!
It’s everything. I always find it hard to put into words: there isn’t anything in the world quite like it. Even if it makes a difference to one person, it’s so worthwhile for me.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Don’t give up. Write as much as you can, write all the time.
IN THIS PHOTO: The Hungry Mothers/PHOTO CREDIT: Bess Hildick Smith
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
There are a few artists really sticking out for me at the minute. The first one is The Hungry Mothers, a band local to Brighton. The second is Deirdre Faegre; an incredibly talented female singer-songwriter from California, originally, who now lives in Brighton. Deirdre was kind enough to join me on harmonies for some of my records. She has an incredible vocal.
IN THIS PHOTO: Deirdre Faegre
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I unwind with my headphones on. For me, that’s a good escape. I also love cooking; I used to work as a chef.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Neil Young - Ohio (Live at Massey Hall, 1971)
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