After taking some time off to enjoy the Mediterranean coast, it was about time I had scoped out the music scene here in Europe. And so, mid afternoon in beautiful Valencia, Spain, on January 18th 2017, I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with up and coming singer-songwriter Josh Stanley from Monaco about how he began his music journey, his current endeavors and future plans for success before returning back to Boston for another semester at accredited, Berklee College of Music.
Ashley Feldman: Good morning Josh, it’s great to have you here, thanks for your time. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? In your own words, how did your music career begin?
Josh Stanley: My music journey began when I won this competition back home for the Monaco government. They had planned to give a fund to anyone who had a project in mind. At the time I was strictly a guitarist, with some experience with piano and drums before becoming a singer. But with some encouragement from my family, I set out to write a song that ended up winning me the competition. From there, my love for studio work began.
AF: What’s the best and the most challenging part about doing what you do?
JS: The best part about doing what I do is that I can travel, visit countries, learn about other cultures and learn languages. Also, working with musicians and writing songs, being able to express through music is fun. The most challenging part is when I have writer’s block, when you want to say something but just don’t know how to say it, or maybe you think it sounds too childish the way you’ve written it. The hardest thing might actually be when someone doesn’t like what you’ve done, they’ll tell you straight up after you’ve spent hours and weeks working on it.
AF: There’s such a push and pull between wanting to please the audience and sell records and all the while remain authentic and true to your artistry. I think that’s a challenge for any artist at any point during their career.
JS: Oh yeah, people will either tell you “it’s great we’ll play it” or “sorry, it’s not for us” and you just can’t take it personally. You have to realize someone out there is bound to like it.
AF: So is that your philosophy? To not necessarily go back and change what you’ve done?
JS: If I’m given constructive criticism, I will always go back and look over my work. I really value the opinion of others. Whether it’s changing a word or two or as simple as sitting on a new idea for a few days.
AF: I understand you’ve recently released a load of new music. This will be a fresh taste of your artistry within the last few years. Tell us about how this release is different? What does it mean to you?
JS: Well, these new songs are basically a showcase of what I’ve been up to and how much I’ve progressed throughout the years. The last time I released music was three years ago. So, between that time there’s been an evolution in my abilities to play guitar, to write songs, convey my message. As well as my artist brand and what I see myself as, long term.
AF: So what does your career look like for you, long term?
JS: I’d love to write music for fellow artists, perform, work more in the studio. I’d like to equally be hands on and in the background for others.
AF: Any track, in particular, you worked especially hard on?
JS: Some of my songs I write pretty quickly, I’m talking 10 minutes because I know exactly what I want to say. It just comes out perfect and then maybe I’ll revise at another time. But then there are some songs that I thought were great and later I’ll come back to it and wonder what I was thinking. But in particular, one song off my release “Straightjacket crazy” was simply about the imagery. That song I worked quite hard on. The demo came across with a country flare and that wasn’t where I wanted to go with it in the end.
AF: So how exactly would you classify your sound then?
JS: I’ve had trouble pinpointing it, but it’s closer to pop/dance with an electro production underneath. Live performance for me is more an acoustic electronic instrumental blend, to give it that band vibe.
AF: Do you produce your own music?
JS: Some, I mostly co-produce. Juggling the hats of singer-songwriter it’s easy to lose focus and that’s why imploring help is important. It brings new ideas to the table and together you work to finalize the product.
AF: Collaboration is the name of the game these days, give us the details on your new music video, which features the work of local Boston actors and producers.
JS: I wanted to make a music video for promotion and to shed exposure on the song. Our initial studio location bailed on us a couple days before, everything was pretty last minute. So, I booked a hotel suite on a Sunday night and we just shot there for a couple of hours. We ended up blowing a fuse in the hotel and finishing an uncountable amount of alcohol, but it was a great time.
AF: You are studying at Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain this semester. How will this experience and global perspective help you grow both as an artist and a person?
JS: Berklee has a lot of contacts within the industry that can help us. They bring in guest speakers who share their knowledge. The overall community is very supportive of one another, students from every department, the singers or producers collaborate together on various projects which is super cool. That’s something I really value.
AF: Any current projects or collaborations worth mentioning? Any performances coming up while you’re in Europe?
JS: I’m putting together a band to perform around Spain since that’s where we are at the moment. I think we all just wanna get our name out there and have fun on stage, that’s what it’s all about. Whether it’s gaining new experience or just taking the time to jam.
AF: Success often comes down to planning out the next move ahead of time. What does your next adventure look like? What do you have in store for Fall 2017?
JS: My new year’s resolution was to get really focused and I started planning ahead. For example, a new music video that we’ll start to film soon, write/record some new songs in the studio here, try and work out a possible record deal and carry on performing as much as possible.
AF: What’s the best way that fans can keep up and stay current with your life and music?
JS: I use Instagram and Snapchat the most @JoshStanleymc, all my social media is under the same handle. Except for my YouTube, in which I plan to stream some live content in addition to hoping on Instagram live so stay tuned for that. Check out my website at josh-stanley.com
AF: Alrighty, well thanks for sitting down with me Josh, good luck with your adventure in Spain and Salud to a successful new year, we’ll be sure to keep an eye on you.
You can check out Josh’s latest music video here.
Words and interview by Ashley Feldman