Just Enough Food Talks About Being an Independent Artist, The Denver Music Scene and His Vulnerable New Album, "Glory Days"
Josh Warner has been part of the Colorado music scene for as long as he can remember, be it in fleeting high school bands, hip-hop collective Travellers Music or his current labor of love, Just Enough Food. Earlier this year, Just Enough Food celebrated the release of Glory Days, his first studio album since he started writing, performing and touring over ten years ago. Fully self and crowd-funded, Glory Days is not only a celebration of Warners' freedom as an independent artist, but also finds him at his most vulnerable and honest yet.
In the months following the release of Glory Days, Warner has had time to reflect on the album's eleven carefully constructed songs and what it means to follow your dreams when you've been part of the scene for years. Unsurprisingly, the album follows the struggles of being an independent, unsigned artist, but also celebrates the freedom of expression and collaboration that comes along with it. This can be heard throughout the album, but also seen in the stunning music video for "Angel," directed by Blurred Pictures and creative album artwork by David Iwane.
Glory Days doesn't mark the end of an era for Just Enough Food though - it's more so the beginning. With the album out now, Warner is already looking toward the future, with plans to release Travellers Music's sophomore album next year and hit SXSW in the spring. Read more about Just Enough Food's musical journey below and pick up Glory Days now! Just Enough Food will be shipping out the next 25 physical copies of Glory Days for free to anyone in the United States up until Christmas.
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
How did you first get your start in the music scene? What inspired you to get involved?
In middle school, I was a b-boy through and through. My first introduction to hip-hop was at Friday Night Live. They always had a DJ and hosted dance contests. Every week I would practice breakdancing and sharpen my skills in hopes to win those contests on the weekend. Those early experiences performing definitely had a significant influence on my music career. My parents were in a classic rock band as a youth and my dad has been playing guitar his whole life. Naturally, he introduced me to the guitar and in high school I started a band. We didn't stay together for long but I always loved the energy of performing live with a group. Towards the end of high school I started playing piano, synth and producing beats. I was never a great singer so I started freestyling and writing rap songs and the rest is history. I started playing solo rap shows and soon after co-founded the Denver based independent hip-hop collective Travellers Music in 2011.
What was it that drew you to hip hop in particular?
The surrounding culture of hip-hop has always been absolutely fascinating to me. It all started with b-boying as a youth and watching my older brother tag and get creative with words. I developed a honest appreciation for graffiti and b-boying at a young age. It wasn't until I was introduced to underground/conscious hip-hop that I fell in love with the music itself. It was the first time I could relate to the emcees that were rapping in my ear. That was a great feeling. I started to acquire a deep respect for song writers and listening to different perspectives. Its all about finding your flavor. Hip-Hop music has all kinds of flavors (many of which turned me away in the early years) But just like any genre of music, you have to listen to various sounds before you land on something you can identify with and cherish. After I started producing and became familiar with sampling it was all over. The idea that these cats would sample old records, rearrange them and make something new was beautiful. From drum breaks to soul records to anything else everything under the sun. Nothing was off limits. After I invested in my first drum machine Hip-Hop became a significant part of my life. As a writer, I always loved the unrestrained, freedom of self expression hip-hop provided. Not to mention the aspect of wordplay, delivery and breath control.
You recently released your new album, Glory Days. Can you tell us a little bit about it? What inspired the songs on the album?
Glory Days is the first album in 10 years of performing and touring I decided to record in a professional studio. My crew Travellers Music has always produced original beats and recorded all our projects in house. This album definitely presented a learning curve from that point of view. I am grateful to have linked up with Josh Denhardt (Conway Sound, Denver) to engineer, record and mix the album. I produced all the beats on Glory Days with the exception of The Phone Call, which my fellow band mate 4th Eye produced. The album itself is definitely the most personal, introspective album I have released to date. Tackling burdensome obstacles like heartbreak, addiction and self-doubt, this is my most focused and honest release to date.
Having released quite a few albums over the years, what makes Glory Days a special release to you?
Glory Days is the most vulnerable, brutally honest album I have produced to date. Whether dealing with substance abuse, navigating various life changing events or providing brief moments of unrestricted safety, Glory Days openly puts my personal life front and center. Which is the main reason why this album has been instrumental to my growth as a writer. I don't wake up every day and want to write about some depressing shit or rap my personal struggles. It just so happened that this album was going to be my outlet to unload all that baggage that was weighing on my chest. Glory Days also openly discusses the struggle of being an independent, unsigned artist. As Hunter S. Thompson once said, "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.” However, encountering these obstacles and finding creative ways to maneuver through them, collaborate and build something beautiful along the way also makes for an extremely humbling experience.
"This life is too short. Do what you love and motivate the people around you to do the same."
The amount of time and energy many of us independent artists dedicate to our craft is astonishing. It takes a special kind of person to have the will power and persistence to keep pushing forward in the face of adversity. You start to question your life goals and ambitions when you're pushing 30. American culture is always telling us to secure a well paying career, buy a house, pay a mortgage and get married. Pressure from society makes it easy to submit to those ideas and for many that way of life is fulfilling. However, the release of Glory Days ultimately solidifies my complete departure from that frame of mind. I have accepted my current position and decided to navigate my musical ambitions without any regrets. I strongly advise readers to follow their heart, passion and soul wholeheartedly. This life is too short. Do what you love and motivate the people around you to do the same.
You also crowdfunded some of this album as well. What was it that drew you to that route for this release?
I was recently laid off from my 4 year position as a bartender. During that time I was more than halfway finished producing the album and came to a crossroads. Dedicate all my energy towards finishing the album or start applying for various career fields within the scope of my management degree. I ultimately chose to finish the album; however, running low on money, crowdfunding was my only available option to produce physical copies of Glory Days. I am incredibly grateful for each and every single contributor. Without the support of my friends, fans and family I wouldn't be shipping physical copies of Glory Days across the United States. Most of my current orders have been to people I have never met. That is an incredibly humbling and rewarding experience.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced while working on Glory Days?
Patience was a huge factor. In 2015 I filmed the music video for "Angel" alongside Fredo Jones and Blurred Pictures. During that time my group Travellers Music was gearing up to release our debut album, filming music videos and touring extensively. After a year of performing and working on various instrumental projects (Str8 Out The Box, Voyager) I finally had the opportunity to dedicate all my energy towards Glory Days. Working day and night with a professional engineer (Josh Denhardt) was definitely a new process. Describing how I wanted my production and vocal presence to sound was a huge learning experience. Josh Denhardt has an amazing ear and is phenomenal at monitoring frequencies; However, you still want to maintain a cohesive mood and vibe (which only the artist can describe at times) That process of recording alongside an engineer but also finding my special place in the mix was as exciting as it was challenging. I wear my heart on my sleeve and rap about many uncomfortable circumstances on Glory Days. As a writer, its my therapy to discuss such things and try to make sense of them. However, you are always taking a risk when putting yourself on the line. I wrestled with the idea of openly sharing that brutally honest, vulnerability at times. However, allowing myself to truly let go and share these emotions and stories within a particular moment was monumental to my growth.
On the flip side, what were some of the most rewarding moments when working on the album?
Having the opportunity to film music videos alongside Blurred Pictures was life changing. Working with a professional director, building story lines and having the opportunity to film with top of the line gear was amazing. My father, Larry Warner played guitar on Glory Days. You could definitely make the argument that I would have never started making music if it wasn't for my dad, so having his presence on this album was truly rewarding. David Iwane handled the photography and illustration of Glory Days. His vision and ability to take an idea and run with it is unsurpassed. The album release show at Larimer Lounge was absolutely out of control. Having the opportunity to perform with my crew Travellers Music in addition to playing a solo set was spectacular. Performing to a nearly sold out room, full of screaming fans, is such a rewarding experience. The energy was truly surreal and the audience was completely engaged and responsive. Bringing so many people together through the power of music is truly something special.
Denver has a really big music scene when it comes to alternative rock, folk and even metal, but not many people notice that the city has a really big rap and hip hop scene as well. Who are some of your favorite artists in the area?
The ReMINDers, Six O' Clock, DJ Cavem, Maulskull, Whiskey Blanket, Bulhead*ded, AG Flux, Distrakt, Qbala...just to name a few.
How do you feel the music scene in Denver and the surrounding areas has affected you as an artist?
The music scene here in Colorado continues to grow larger and stronger by the year. Networking and building quality relationships with like minded individuals is crucial in order to grow your brand, tour and book successful events. Its imperative to show respect to other artists in the music community. Unfortunately, many choose to let their ego get in the way and it ultimately only casts a negative light on the entire scene. The majority of us hip-hop artists in Denver and surrounding areas are all in the same boat. We depend on each other to organize events, promote and collaborate. In the words of Kendrick Lamar, be humble. I have had the opportunity to perform with so many talented people in the Denver scene over the years. I understand that on one side you have to maintain your "reputation" but some quality advice is to be supportive of newcomers in the hip-hop community and at bare minimum show some respect if its mutual. It only takes one negative comment or cold shoulder to turn away future fans, opportunities and artists. I understand this is hip-hop and if your wack, so be it, your wack. But actions speak louder than words and as an artist, I want to see more collaboration and respect. As far as the local hip-hop music circuit goes, its incredibly competitive. Denver has so many hip-hop artists of nearly every sub-genre you can imagine. The scene will quickly teach you that if your not willing to put in the work, then you wont see any positive results. As an artist, the Denver scene has taught me work hard, be humble, network and enjoy the ride.
Do you have any other big plans for this year?
My crew Travellers Music will be finished recording our sophomore album Judgement Day in 2018. We are planning on pressing the record to vinyl which is a huge milestone for us. I am also planning on booking and promoting more events through my website justenoughmusic.com. I recently secured a venue for the 1st annual Fresh Start Music Showcase. Other than that, be on the look out for Travellers Music at SXSW 2018 as we begin to start touring for new crew album.
Where can listeners purchase or stream your new album Glory Days?
The best way to support this project is to purchase digital or physical copies at travellersmusic.bandcamp.com. Listeners can also stream Glory Days on Spotify or download the album from all major music retailers (I-tunes, Amazon Music, CD Baby...) I am currently shipping out the next 25 physical copies of Glory Days for free to anyone in the United States up until Christmas.