Currently promoting his EP Ghost Hwy, Josh Bassett is proving himself to be quite a talent. With his collection an array of introspective, intensive and surprisingly psychedelic songs, 2017 may well be the year he finds himself a whole new army of fans. As 2016 draws to a close, he kindly took the time to chat with This Is The Latest about favourite artists, ultimate ambitions and the power of social media.
TITL: Please introduce yourself.
Josh Bassett: They call me Josh. I was raised in New Jersey, spent time living in Miami and San Francisco and am now based in LA making music. I like eating my girlfriend’s home cooked Italian food or Tak’s ramen soup.
TITL: When did you first realise you wanted to be a performer?
JB: My mom took me to see my first big rock show when I was 9 years old. It was David Bowie in Philadelphia. That probably started this whole mess.
TITL: Which bands and artists are you most influenced by and why? Have your influences changed much over the years?
JB: So many. To narrow it down to the core elements – Led Zeppelin; their diversity and brilliant musicianship all around. Chris Cornell; any of his bands – his compositions are very complex and highly underrated. His voice is pretty incredible, and his lyrics have depth and soul. Radiohead; they’re true artists. Just look at the musical distance they’ve travelled from the beginning up to now, always shifting the paradigm. I also have to mention guitarists/composers John McLaughlin and Pat Metheny who influenced my guitar style a lot. And yes, my taste in music have changed enormously over the years and will likely continue to do so.
TITL: Who or what most inspires your song-writing?
JB: Just moods, emotions, energy going on around me; that all influences the sounds and context that encourages a song to take form. Then the energy of the music itself influences the direction of the lyrical content.
TITL: Tell me about your EP, Ghost Hwy. Where did the idea for the title come from?
JB: Originally, the song that bares that name had no lyrics. It was just some guitar music with a vocal melody I hummed. After we shot the music video for that song, the lyrics were written to fit the video’s story-line and it was called ‘Ghost Highway’ since the video had a lot of driving through vacant spooky places and it was a travelogue type of thing. The video actually takes some influence from an old Jim Morrison art film called ‘HWY’ so I changed the spelling to pay homage to that. Of all the songs on the EP, I just thought that one and the video experience summed up this whole period of life best, and the title easily lends itself to visuals such as the album artwork etc.
TITL: Could you pick a favourite track from the collection and if so, which is it and why?
JB: I don’t think I have a favourite but there are things that pop out about each one. For example, “Spirit Friend” is cool to me because it was written on a ukulele during the first week I ever wielded that instrument. I had never used a ukulele on a recording before. Combining that with electronic elements also for my first time on a recording was a whole lot of firsts in one song. “Away” is cool because it’s one of the first songs I ever wrote a long time ago, and it never got released as a finished product until now. I grew up a drummer and actually played drums on that recording. “Wingtouch” has a very challenging vocal performance and I like the way it came out.
TITL: In your opinion, which is the greatest song ever written and why?
JB: Beethoven’s 5th symphony and Van Halen’s “Jump” because they will both live FOREVER.
TITL: What are your future tour plans and with that in mind, which venue would you most like to play and why?
JB: I’m just trying to book a show at the Hi Hat in LA but I’m not hipster enough I guess so they haven’t written us back yet. We are playing some LA area shows in December and east coast shows around the holidays. After that, we’re trying to plot out some broader touring for February but we need a new van to travel in!
TITL: You’ve been championed by the likes of The Huffington Post and had your sound referred to as “the lovechild of Nirvana and Radiohead” by Mad Mackerel. How much does the support of critics mean to you?
JB: Were we in Huffington? I wasn’t aware of that, I have to google myself! It’s really nice when people who are passionate enough about music to make it their career write positive things about what you do. Also, it helps ‘legitimise’ you a bit since its coming from an established source and that helps spread awareness about your music. But I’m very aware that music is a super personal thing, like eating food, and everyone has their own taste so I know what I do is not for everyone and that’s okay.
TITL: How do you feel about social media? Would you agree it’s a necessity for bands and artists today?
JB: Social media is a lot of work and can take away a huge chunk of time away from focusing on the music itself. It is a nice tool to connect with people all over the world. If you’re running your own thing, you absolutely have to put a lot of effort into it. If you are being handled by music industry professionals, they can do all that stuff for you, if you want. Some huge music celebs like Slash do all their own posting and content. Ideally for me it’d be a mix of both.
TITL: Finally, what are your ambitions for the coming year and what would be the ultimate career highlight for you?
JB: In early 2017 I plan to play live a lot and promote Ghost Hwy, while getting the mixes of some other songs finalised. I plan to release another EP by early summer. It’s already mostly recorded. We’ll see how it goes. As for my ultimate career highlight, I can only see what’s just around the corner, so I dream of making an even better album, travelling around opening for one of the bands I’m most influenced by and having some of those artists tell me they dig what I’m doing. Oh, and being in Rolling Stone magazine.