Producer, singer, songwriter and engineer Josh Stevens is no stranger to the music scene, so naturally, creating his upcoming EP, Story Of Summer was more fun and relaxing than most would expect. Whether he's working on his own material, or writing for other musicians, Stevens feels right at home, and so far, Story Of Summer promises to be a direct reflection of that. Tapping quite a few of his friends for the release, Stevens has shared a few songs from the EP so far, most recently, "Anna" and "Hill Hop," which can be streamed below.
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, for any readers who may not be familiar?
Hi my name is Josh Stevens. I grew up in Los Angeles and the Orange County beach areas of Southern California. I am a Singer-Song Writer, Producer and CEO of Stadium Music Enterprise, Inc. SME is a consulting firm for artists and brands to help guide them strategically through media and music development. I have also been scene shuffling on occasion or in the studio writing rhymes with some west coast rappers. :-) . Mainly now you will probably find me with an acoustic guitar, straw hat singing love songs. I know, it can get complex.
What inspired you to get involved with music growing up? Who or what are your inspirations today?
Music growing up for me was the idea that a song's message could travel around the world and impact so many peoples lives in so many different ways. Often, this is beyond what the original writer or singer could even image. That's probably why I was drawn to listening to a lot of HipHop as a kid. Through those rappers poetry there was always a sense of honesty and raw emotions. Giving detailed descriptions with lyrics painting images in your mind of the environment they were experiencing. To me that was fascinating.
There are a lot of pop and rock bands from years past to modern with this same mentally who I equally admire like Men at Work, U2, Tom Petty, Bob Segar, Bruce Springsteen to Walk The Moon, Island Apollo and One Republic. Then in HipHop, artist like Common, Blackstarr, Dr. Dre and Eminem. I am all over the map when comes to music I just really look up to the art of it.
You wear quite a few musical hats as a singer, songwriter, producer and engineer. Where do you feel the most comfortable or at ease?
It changes from project to project to be honest. As of now I really enjoy being the front man of my new project Story of Summer EP. But I forget sometimes that I'm not just a behind the scenes guy at the moment. So I need to smile and pay attention more when people take Instagram pictures... lol...My girlfriend keeps giving me progress reports on which smiles work and don't for certain situations. I usually just go with my fall back goofy one that is the most natural and has been seen in every one of my elementary school photos growing up....
Do you ever feel pressure to outdo yourself when working on your own music versus working with other artists?
Not as much as one would expect. When it's my own project I actually get rather relaxed and like to take more risks, then sit back and watch how it turns out. I feel way more pressure when I'm trying to convince another artist to take a risk and trust me on an idea that maybe a bit left-of-center. Because it's their career and they have to deal with the results if the song doesn't turn out how they expected. So I take other artist careers and decisions for themselves very important. Really it's about what the artist vision is and what they want to stand for. Sometimes it is just figuring out how to interpret the vision and get it to the people.
On the flip side, do you feel you have more creative freedom when writing for yourself?
Not really, I feel it's pretty equal in which ever position I'm in. I try and throw as many ideas out there as I possibly can come up with. Sometimes it's the artist, label, producer or brands decision to use what they feel fits best. I never get offended on what they decide to use or don't use. As long as the work is properly accredited and compensated.. :-) In the case of Story of Summer EP it's my firm Stadium Music Enterprise, Inc. who gets to decide what is being used, which is truly a blessing.
You're getting ready to drop your Story Of Summer EP soon - can you tell us a little bit about it? Was there a story or a message you wanted to convey with these songs?
Story of Summer EP is a reflective piece written about a summer that I experienced after coming out of a relationship. It's about what happens in the aftermath when one is left dealing with situations that are tumultuous, passion, party-filled and lonely then finding euphoric love at the end. It's was instrumental in me becoming who I am today.
Did you have any major goals in mind while working on Story Of Summer?
Only goal really was to make an EP that was both lyrically and extremely honest while direct. But musically still ability to have an impact on pop culture. I think we archived that.
Of course there was always the in studio laughing goals like how great it would be to win the New Artist of Year Grammy... :-)
Lets see what happens.....
You also recently released "Hill Top" from the EP, which features Spencer Ludwig - what is the story behind this song and the collaboration?
"Hill Top" came about very new age and modern, over the internet...Spencer and I followed each other on social media. We are both fans of one another's work and both came up in the LA music scene. So one day I had an idea and reached out to him. He thought it was great and record his horn parts right away in his hotel room in between Capital Cities performance dates. Since then we keep in contact pretty frequently. We have a bunch of projects together in the works and hopefully more of it will be available soon to the public. Spencer is extremely talented and a genius with music. I am stoked to see how far his solo project is going to reach.
Were there any other artists you were especially excited to collaborate with on this EP?
Drew Hester who played drums on the project and who is best known for his work in the Foo Fighters and Chicago was especially exciting to me. He invited me over to his home studio and knocked out the drums super fast and perfect. He is also one of the funniest and most energetic people I have ever met.
The list is long but Inglewood native Thurz, Jason Valverde, Mickey Shiloh, Matt McJunkin best know for his work in Perfect Circle and Pusifer, Alex Clement, Loren Smith, Chris Gehringer (Grammy Winner), Ryan Greene, Eric Racy, Megan Perry, Byron Martinez, Joshua Andrews, the staff at Studio City Sound, K-Kov (producer Anna). There are so many people I'm sure I am forgetting a lot. Since I know I did- just know I appreciate each and everyone who was involved in the making of Story of Summer. Thank you for your time and efforts. It is and was greatly appreciated..... (Que music ..... Exit stage right) ......
Didn't mean to make that sound like an acceptance speech. But anyone I ask to join me on a project means I'm already super stoked and appreciative to be working with them.
After Story Of Summer drops, do you have any other big plans in the works? Hopefully a tour soon?
Yeah I have a few projects in the works that could be huge. :-) Once I get the ok to discuss them I will post them first on social media for the people. Same goes for the tour dates. We have some dates already posted but more will be posting soon so stay tuned. Might be coming to a city near you. If not contact your local radio station and request Hill Top. :-) ... That definitely will bring us your way.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you would like to add?
My team and I would like to say thank you to the fans who have been posting their videos of them singing Hill Top and dedicating it to someone they love. We appreciate them putting so much positivity out into the world. And thank you The Prelude Press for having me.