Crowd Control Q&A | Joshua Ray Walker
1. What has been the most encouraging moment of your career thus far?
It’s all the little victories along the way that keep me going, but I’d have to say my recent trip to Nashville during Americanafest garnered some attention and praise regarding my single and live shows that I was not expecting. That really lit a fire under me since I’ve been home.
2. How much, if any, of the lyrical content in your songs is pulled from personal experience?
I write from the perspective of fictional characters that I create a lot. It’s not always intentional, but when I reflect on songs I’ve written I can usually attribute a character's origin to a few key people I’ve known in my life, combined with similar characteristics I find in myself that I’m examining through them. I guess, I project parts of myself onto a character because it's easier for me to process and write songs with sincerity without being so vulnerable. Although, I do write some songs directly about my life, including “Canyon” and “Fondly”. Both of those songs are on my upcoming record.
3. Your debut album, Wish You Were Here, is set for release in January. This album has been a long time coming. What has the emotional and physical journey been like working on these songs over the past few years leading up to the release?
Writing for me is cathartic, and most of that emotion is used up by the writing process so by the time we were in the studio it was all about doing justice by and capturing the song. I love being in the studio. It takes away a lot of the ambiguous nature of being a musician. You wake up in the morning and have a clear vision of what needs to be done. You spend hours tweaking guitar tones, or mixing snare drums and when everyone is in agreement you check that box and move forward. It’s like framing a house or rebuilding an engine. So often, we are forced to try to explain to people that what we do isn’t a hobby. Being in the studio gives me a real sense of accomplishment. Physically, we put hundreds of man-hours into this record. Along with producing the record, John Pedigo really championed the project in general. He showed my songs to State Fair Records, who subsequently agreed to fund and release the album. I know I spent copious hours on the record, and John spent markedly more.
4. What is a common trap or habit you see musicians falling into that stunts their ability to develop their skills?
Oh man, I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this question. I can speak from personal experience that being a full-time musician can be overwhelming. Trying to balance being creatively fulfilled, growing as an artist, and keeping a steady revenue stream is extremely difficult. I’m not saying I always follow my own advice, but here are a few tips. Your peers are not your competition, you are. You can learn something from everyone. Everything matters; one gig might feel more important than the next, but you never know what opportunities await... I’m going to stop while I’m ahead, I feel like I’m getting off topic, and I’m starting to sound like a fortune cookie.
5. Recently, you've been spending a lot of time in Nashville. What is it about the city that draws you to it?
DFW has a phenomenal well of talent, and I love our music scene but Nashville is a hub for industry. I have no plans of leaving Texas, but it is nice that there is a town where a large portion of the publicists, promotors, managers, booking agents, writers, and performers that I want to work with all live or at least visit on a regular basis. Besides that, it’s a fun town with similar cost of living to Dallas that’s filled with dive bars, good food, and great musicians. I think that’s why I was immediately comfortable there. A night out in East Nashville is very similar to a night out in East Dallas, and with the strong musical connection the two cities have, you’re likely to run into most of the same folks too.
6. Now having finished the album, what advice would you give to someone just beginning the process of writing and recording an album?
Work with John Pedigo. Don’t throw out anything you write, it might not be right yet but it could be useful in the future. Find someone who’s musical taste you trust, who cares about you personally and ask them to tell you when you suck. Work with John Pedigo.
28 September | 2018