We here at Evensound are thrilled to give you some new music for your summer playlists. Featured artist, Josh Gonzales, hails from the geographical center of Canada. But, his album When She Smiles, has a light and airy vibe that will pair nicely with your Corona at your next beach bonfire.
The comparisons to John Mayer and Jack Johnson are undeniable and admitted as huge influences. But, that doesn’t restrict Josh from using those influences as vehicles for his own stories and developing his own sound.
Beyond the clean production, solid performances, and excellent song writing there is a casual ease to the delivery. There isn’t some desperate urge to prove itself as the next big thing. There are simply a collection of songs that were written and captured by friends that are in it to win it. But most importantly they’re having fun and enjoying their time. A pretty terrific Summer motto.
Josh took time to answer some questions for us here at Evensound. Proving that he’s just as gracious and eloquent as he is talented.
Congrats on your full length release! It’s such a gorgeous sounding record. What was the song writing and recording process like? Where did you record and master?
Super glad you like it! The writing for the songs on the album usually started with one of three fumbling processes:
I’d write a nearly fleshed out song and bring it to the studio. (Young As I’ll Ever Be; Cydney)
I’d have the beginning of a riff or vocal hook and we’d work out the rest of the song structure together (Sitting on a Fence; When She Smiles)
Thomas, our guitarist/co-songwriter/audio engineer/producer/resident mad genius, would come with a guitar riff or fully formed instrumental structure and I’d fill the space with vocal melodies and lyrics. (Crazy Lady Signs; Bubble Gum Tongue; Suitcase)
We recorded the entire album in Thomas’ parent’s garage. His dad was an audio engineer so it’s not as ghetto as it sounds haha, although Thomas was the one handling the recording duties. I was doing my honors thesis at the time and Thomas was a full time engineer, so we couldn’t go through epic 12 hour recording sessions. We’d do it in bits and pieces, recording the vocals one day, and then coming back to it another day to record drums and overlay guitar tracks. The process might have hurt us in some ways (it didn’t let us get into a late night groove often) but I think it allowed us space to contemplate on what we were trying to convey. It was a deeply, if not always well, thought out process.
We handed off the mastering of the album to Philip Shaw Bova, who’s worked on albums like Bahama’s “Bahama is Alfie” and Feist’s “Metals”. So that part worked out pretty well.
Your site mentions John Mayer and Bill Withers as influence to your self description of Soul-Folk-Pop, any other influences? Who can we find on your current playlist?
I mean, personally I listen to a lot of RnB and chill electronic music, so even though we have more of a contemporary alternative sound, I get a lot of inspiration from artists like Jamie Lidell, As Tall As Lions, Ellie Goulding, Chet Faker, Flight Facilities, Frank Ocean…the list is endless.
I also draw a lot from more rock-oriented bands like the Arctic Monkeys and Alabama Shakes, or people who just have a very raw and honest opinion of themselves. Childish Gambino’s “Camp” is an album that still resonates with me because of that. He says things you wouldn’t expect in ways you wouldn’t expect, and I try to subtly add the same kind of color in my own lyrics.
I’m also a huge fan of EDM bands like Clean Bandit, Calvin Harris and Daft Punk. They write the most ridiculously catchy hooks. Honestly, I think anyone who can write a great hook is someone you can learn something from. Weezer was a big inspiration back in the good old grade school days for that very same reason.
Thomas has his own sources of inspiration and I think it colors the music we co-write in interesting ways too. He’s also less prone to weird Mars Volta style benders, so it keeps us grounded.
Top 3 artists/albums on my playlist right now:
Big Data – 2.0. “The Glow” featuring Kimbra continuously gives me goose bumps and the album as a whole is magnetic.
Lucy Rose – “Shiver” is one of my favorite songs of all time, and I cannot wait for her new album to drop in America later this month.
Close Talker – Flux. My favorite band out of Saskatchewan right now and it’s not close. These boys will be making noise worldwide in the very near future.
Where does your song writing inspiration come from?
Honestly, I just love storytelling. You try to make every song it’s own self contained entity but I found myself referring to the other songs we were recording to the album to try and find a cohesive thread that ran through, just so I could connect the dots as much as possible.
The song “When She Smiles” was actually written about 6-7 years ago (about some crush I had I’m sure, although who exactly is a mystery even to me at this point). The bare bones of “Sitting on a fence” came from a semester abroad in 2012, and “Young As I’ll Ever Be” came about because I wanted to raise money for charity. Those songs gave the outline of the album as a whole, and then the rest of the lyrics were really shaped by how I saw them fitting into this imagined structure I had in my brain about the “culture” of the album. The funny thing is, we didn’t really write a lot of extra songs. You’re supposed to write 20 songs and pick the 10 best, but for us, these 7 songs just really coalesced. Thomas would come up with an instrumental and it would just make sense. I think we got very lucky that way.
What’s your take on the music industry today?
I don’t know how much I can speak to the music industry at large, but the music industry in Saskatchewan is really strong. We have amazing governmental support from Creative Sask and SaskMusic. A lot of great bands are popping up, these amazing musicians like Keiffer McLean and Close Talker, Kacy & Clayton and Tenille Arts, and Danny Olliver, and it has this kind of butterfly effect. Once you see a local band be great, you’re kind of like “Hey, that’s really cool” and you start to really understand what’s actually possibly, even though we might not be in the heart of things like someone in LA or New York. We’ve had bands showcase at Folk Alliance, SXSW, and do sold out shows in Europe. I think the music industry will be fine as long as we have bands that continue to strive for greatness because people will always be moved by prodigious art.
Your location in Regina is almost the direct center of North America, yet you seem to have an almost coastal beach vibe with your relaxed delivery. Are those two things mutually exclusive? What is the music scene like in Regina?
As a researcher, you’re use of the term “mutually exclusive” warms my heart haha.
I think the sound comes less from a coastal distinction and more from an exploration distinction. Hiraeth is a Welsh word meaning “a homesickness for somewhere you cannot return to, the nostalgia and the grief for the lost places of your past, places that never were” and I think it’s the best encapsulation of our music.
Every prairie soul has a longing to escape, to the coast, to an island, to the mountains, wherever, even if it’s just for a little while. The pull is stronger for some people more than others. Both Thomas and I have done our fair share of traveling and, as much as Saskatchewan is home, it’s hard not to yearn for the adventure that comes with visiting new places. Music is an outlet for us to explore that aching wanderlust.
We’re also generally pretty easy going people, so some of that has to do with our laid back attitudes too.
The video for “Young As I’ll Ever Be” is fantastic, you guys all seem to be actually having a blast. Can we expect that kind of jovial energy in the live show? How have your live shows been going?
The recording of that video was a blast. We always have fun at our live shows, I’ve been friends with Thomas since the beginning of high school and Jon (bass) and Cyprian (drums) are both good friends too so it’s hard not to have fun. Our live shows have been so much fun, we try to keep a good banter going, although sometimes I wish people would dance more, but I think that’s more of a function of our music than anything else. Maybe I just need to write more dance-y tunes to be completely satisfied with our live sets haha.
What’s in store for the next year of album promotion? CAN/US tour?
We’re just gonna keep playing, whenever and wherever we can. It’s tough to make a touring schedule given I will be starting the first year of my Master’s this Fall and Thomas is a full time engineer, but we’re planning a couple of western Canada tours. Hopefully we’ll be down to the States for some festivals next summer too. Our main focus will be on recording some cover songs and releasing them once a month on Youtube starting in the fall. Stay tuned!