RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW LONDONS JOSHUA ZERO
Hiya Joshua thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide to start making music?
Hello, thanks for having me! I’ve been making and playing music ever since I was a kid. It was the only thing that I was good at in school and so I just happened to fall into it. There’s so much joy and passion in it for me so I couldn’t help but pursue it.
Introduce us to your musical history.
The first time I fell in love with music was listening to my parent’s music as I kid. My dad likes a lot of classical music and my mum loves Bowie and Oasis. I started learning piano and clarinet when I was 5 and when I was 10 I discovered the guitar and LOVED it. As soon as I learnt all the chords I started to write songs. As a teenager, I played in a few punk bands and then I moved up to Leeds to study at the College of Music. After I graduated I had a crazy amount of songs and so I formed a band to play them, and that’s how Joshua Zero came about!
What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
The best piece of advice, in my opinion, is from an interview with Jay Z where he just says ‘don’t listen to anyone’s advice’ hahaha. The point he’s making is that no one knows what’s best for you other than yourself, so trust yourself. A lot of hard work goes into music and a lot of people who aren’t on the same wave as you give you lots of advice which can be pretty useless. It may have worked for them but you are a different person, so pursue your own path. This (ironically) leads to another piece of good advice from Martin Scorsese which is ‘the more personal, the more better. Only you can do you, so do the best you can do.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic? If so, what?
I bought a lot of weed which I have now cut out of my life hahaha. I also bought a Gameboy advance and some sexy underwear which was hella mega. (My guitar is a nuclear weapon out now on all streaming platforms)
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
The most fun I’ve had on stage was probably at our EP launch party at The Sebright Arms in London. Just cause there was so many people there and since we’ve been performing these songs for a while, people were singing all of my lyrics back to me while diving in and out of this crazy mosh pit. Another fun one though has got to be performing David Bowie songs at a sold-out show at The Belgrave in Leeds because who doesn’t love pretending to be Bowie.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Well, a memory that stands out for me is one time I dropped acid before a show and I was convinced for about 30 minutes that my hands were made out of water. Pretty intense when you have a room full of people watching you. Another awful experience was smashing my late uncle’s guitar that he left me after he passed. We were at the end of a tour and my pedals kept cutting out mid-show, and without thinking I put my guitar down and twatted it leaving a big hole in the side. Luckily it was fixed and I still play it to this day but it was a sketchy situation to be in for sure.
If you could choose, would you prefer to time travel to the past or go forward in time? And why?
Tricky question. I suppose I would love to hang out in New York in the early 70s, back when The Velvet Underground were still kicking it. I just read Patti Smith’s book and she paints such a beautiful picture of that time. Going forward I think would be weird, I love the concept of the ‘future’ and definitely strive towards it, but it would suck if you went forward 10 years and we were all underwater. And what if you saw your gravestone Scrooge style. That would be a stressful day out.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
I’m non-binary which means I don’t conform to either gender. Even though I sometimes present as a male and I’m attracted to femininity, I don’t fully identify as a man. I’ve always loved androgyny, ever since I was a kid, and I find that being non-binary is a healthy space for me to be a casual middle finger to the confines of gender politics.
Create a four-piece band made up of legends – who would be in it? (drummer, bass, lead singer etc)
Okay, on the drums we have Ginger Baker from Cream, on the bass we’ve got Kim Gordon cause she’s insanely bad ass, on the lead guitar we have Johnny Greenwood cause why the hell not, then the lead singer would be RuPaul just shredding vocals as if she was Sid McCray from Bad Brainz.
What advice would you give someone going into the music industry?
I suppose the best general advice is to be sociable. Not to say you should be going out all the time and getting pissed, but make an effort to talk to people. Music is a relationship based industry, so be nice, ask questions and put yourself out there cause you never know who could help you. And that advice stands for whatever aspect of the industry you find yourself in. However, if there are any artists reading this, don’t be afraid to be weird, what you are doing is weird, and making art is weird, so be brave about and have faith that what you’re doing is the right thing. There’s nothing that a bit of self-belief can’t accomplish.
What’s your biggest achievement as an artist?
My biggest achievement is yet to come. I’m very proud of everything I’ve done and I’m proud of how far I’ve come on the path to becoming a fully fledged, full time artist. But I try not to see the things I’ve done as ‘the best one I’ve done’ because I don’t want to limit myself. (My biggest achievement is my new EP, out now on all digital platforms)
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I think my songs make me stand out. They’re the only songs that sound like that and I put a lot of hours into making them feel like that.
Right now, what’s annoying you the most?
Right now the thing that’s annoying me most is all the admin I’m doing cause its taking away from some valuable writing time. I’m also broke right now cause I’ve just finished a a lot of touring but can’t complain to much haha.
What can you tell us about your new EP?
My new EP is called ‘Delights Are Plenty, But Tears Are Due’ and it’s a collection of songs that were written a few years ago. It centers around party culture and romance and it’s got some big old indie bangers on it as well as a ballad for good measure. It basically guides you through life as a non-binary drug addict with a lust for love ahaha.
Talk me through the thought process of the EP?
The EP just came about organically with no real structure or purpose to writing it. I wrote what I felt at the time and I tried to make each song fit into a live environment cause that was my focus at the time. I also was working on a lot of lyrics everywhere I went and was trying to write as much as I physically could. The biggest chunk of lyrics probably came out when I was visiting New York, just cause I didn’t have any instrument on me so I was forced to just write all my ideas down. That’s where ‘Your Eyes Are Fighting Me’ and ‘My Guitar Is A Nuclear Weapon’ came from. Then songs like ‘Haus Party 101’ and ’12 Inch Alcoholics’ were songs that just kind of appeared out of thin air, and were written in like 30mins from the point of envisioning them. But yeah, in 2020 I took the songs on tour with a Berlin band called Soybomb for two weeks and the songs started to feel really tight and cemented together. But then lockdown hit and the world got shut down and I got stuck living in this tiny bedsit. It was literally just a small room with a cooker, washing machine, bed, chest of drawers and sink and to stop myself going mad I started to record the demos of the set on my own. After a while they started to sound pretty cool!
What was the recording process like?
When the lockdown restrictions eased in the summer time I cut the track listing down to 5 songs and went to the Chairworks recording studio with Bob Cooper for a week and nailed then down which was super fun. Its a wonderful studio and it was great being there, not only cause we all had something to do but recording in a studio like that is such a great experience. And yeah there was a lot of stress getting the money together but I once I’d paid it off it felt like a big achievement.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the EP?
Well after the EP was recorded I went sober. I’d been drinking like a fish throughout lockdown and when lockdown had ended I found myself working in a punk bar in Soho called The Ship which is a pretty intense place. I did get to meet lots of really great people but I was also getting drunk 6 days a week which was quite intense. So looking back on the songs is nice in a way because I can see how far I’ve come since then and I can appreciate all the experiences that helped it come about.
Would you change anything now that it’s finished?
No, I don’t think so, I think it was perfect for the time it was recorded and written in my life and I wouldn’t wanna change that! Its very honest and its release has allowed me to move on in different ways. I’m so glad its out in the world and people can enjoy it!
What are your plans for the year ahead?
I have an exciting year ahead! I’ve got a few shows in June up in Leeds and then I’m recording a new album in August so I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve also got some touring in October and November and then I’ve got a project called ZhanZhan coming out in December that I will be touring in Switzerland and Germany. So super fun stuff!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
My debut EP ‘Delights Are Plenty, But Tears Are Due’ is out now on all digital platforms 🙂