Twenty year old Josh Osho has recently been signed to Island Records. The talented south Londoner taught himself how to play the guitar and wrote songs whilst living in a hostel as a teenager. Courtney Buck met with him and spoke about his debut single ‘Redemption Days’, getting Ghostface Killah on the track and working with Nas’ dad, Olu Dara on the album.
Hi Josh! How are you?
I’m very well, thank you! This is my first real set of interviews I’ve done, so it’s all very new & fresh.
Good, good! So, tell us a little about yourself, for those that don’t know about you…
I’m part Irish, and part Nigerian, and I’m from South London… That’s it!
How would you describe your sound?
It’s difficult to say. My album describes my sound. There’s elements of hip-hop on there, elements of folk, blues… It’s mad! We’ve got accordions on the album, ukuleles, guitars, hip hop samples, scratching, hip hop beats, all different sounds really.
Sounds like a real variety of sounds there! You were recently on the Urban Development website, we ran a small introduction piece about you. Could you tell us a little bit about how you got signed to Island?
I had more or less finished the record before I got signed. We were talking to publishers, and there’s a guy called Alan Pell, he works over at Stage Three Music (home to Macy Gray, and writers such as Andrew Frampton) he’s good friends with Darcus Beese (Co-President at Island Records who signed Amy Winehouse). Alan gave Darcus my album; Darcus contacted my management, which was on a Thursday. My management phoned me on the Thursday night, all giddy, like “OH MY GOD! I JUST SPOKE TO DARCUS!” [Laughs] Then on the Friday I met Darcus and I was like “OH MY GOD! I JUST MET DARCUS!” [Laughs] And then he offered me a deal on the Monday! It took a bit longer to sign, but the deal was there. It definitely wasn’t an overnight thing, but it felt good!
That’s incredible! Your first single ‘Redemption Days’ features Ghostface Killah. What was it like working with him? How did you feel when you got the call to say “We’ve got him!”
It was weird getting the call because… It’s difficult unless you’re in the music industry to understand the dynamic of change, like, how quick things change, because even after Ghostface had done his part, I was still going back to my normal house and I was still doing my normal stuff, so my life hadn’t really changed. I hadn’t really got my head around it. By the time we got to filming the video in New York, things had changed a bit more and I was out of the studio, I had stopped writing the record, I had more or less finished writing it, so I was able to step out a bit and take it all in. While I was doing that, we were shooting the video, and I was like “Oh my days! This guy is… This is...” And I suppose what bowled me over the most was the kind of person he is. He isn’t what most people, or even his most avid fans would think he would be like. I’m one of those avid fans, and even I thought he’d be kind of cold, y’know, but he was cool! Hugs all day, he’s just a nice guy! Really intelligent, it was a great day!
Did he give you any advice?
Yes, actually! He didn’t just give advice, but he gave mad props too. We were on the roof at the end of the video shoot, and he was like “Everyone, be quiet!” He stood on the highest part of the roof and said “If this guy doesn’t win award after award after award, I don’t know what’s wrong with this industry!” He was like, ‘just keep staying positive’. He was saying everyone goes through what they go through. It’s nice to see someone so young having a positive outlook.
Amazing! You’ve already talked a little about the album, what else can we expect from it? Any collaborations planned?
I can tell you about one! We’ve got another kind of hip-hop connection through Nas’ father, Olu Dara. We didn’t actually pick him because he’s Nas’ dad, we picked him because he’s who I wanted, because on the track we picked him for, it’s got a hip hop feel about it, but I wanted to “blues it up” a bit. He’s done a song before with Nas called Bridging The Gap; I just thought his voice would be perfect for it. We originally got someone else to do the vocal, but right towards the end of finishing it, we were like “Ahh, it’s not him though!” So we emailed almost everyone we knew asking if they knew anyone who sounded like Olu Dara, and someone emailed back saying “Oh yeah, we know Olu Dara!” [Laughs] So we emailed them the track, and the following week, he did it, he loved it! We did it via webcam, and he’s a really funny guy.
Do you have any gigs lined up?
I’ve got a gig in Hoxton on Wednesday 20th July 2011. Just keep an eye on my Facebook, Twitter, website for the latest, because everything goes up there.
Brilliant! So, here’s a scenario. You’re outside the venue you’re due to be performing in, but security doesn’t recognise you and refuses to let you in. What do you do?
[Laughs] OK, 2 answers. I either perform [outside the venue] or I go get my dad or my mum! [Laughs] Nah, I’d probably perform and really loud, just to annoy the security!
Is there any song you wish you wrote?
Yes. Loads! But I’ll say one recently. ‘Someone like You’ by Adele and ‘Neon’ by John Mayer.
Finally, your house is on fire and you can only save ONE album. Which one do you save?
What do I take? Life! [Laughs] Umm…. See, this is such a ridiculous situation, it’s not even a serious question, but I’m getting really emotional! Can I take two?
But they’re close together!
The question says only one!
Ok, I’ll pick one, but I normally leave these two albums together in the same box! [Laughs] Donny Hathaway’s live album and Black Star by Mos Def & Taleb Kwali.
[Laughs] Ok, we’ll let you have that one! Thanks for your time today!
Thank you boss! That was fun!
Josh Osho's debut single 'Redemption Days' is out September 12th!
WORDS: Courtney Buck