Spotlight Artist of the Week: Josh Gray

Meet Josh Gray. He is a Nashville based singer-songwriter, who has his own unique sound. His musical style comes from the old folk, bluegrass, and country roots. Josh released his debut EP, Josh Gray, in 2015 and it is definitely an album you will want to listen to. Below is our interview with Josh Gray.

On The Verge: Nashville: What made you want to become a singer-songwriter? Did a certain artist or performance influence your decision?

Josh Gray: I started writing poetry when I was around ten or twelve and eventually that turned into writing lyrics. I never wrote with the intent of performing but maybe it was always subconsciously there. When I was sixteen my parents got me a guitar and I slowly taught myself to play. Music was something I just did for myself for many years. I didn’t started performing live until sixteen years later. That might sound crazy, but for the longest time it was just something I did for my own enjoyment.

OTVN: When describing your musical style , you said that it’s “a blend of folk, bluegrass, and country”. What made you gravitate to this style of music?

Josh: My interest in lyrics has always gravitated towards the storytelling and social messages. Because of this, I think it was only a matter of time before I found folk, bluegrass, and old school country. These genres celebrate our commonalities, I like music that is honest and somewhat minimalistic. When I listen to a song about 90% of my focus is on lyrics. I don’t have the interest or time to become a great guitar player. To me, music is primarily a canvas for lyrics. This isn’t to say I don’t want to make songs with nice melodies, but how many artists do you know that are great lyrics writers and musicians? It’s rare, most artist lean towards one discipline at least slightly more than the other. 

OTVN: Let’s talk about your songwriting process, how do you go about writing songs?

Josh: I make an effort to free write daily. I can’t say a ton comes out of it, but it’s a way of keeping the gears oiled. Lyrics come to me a line or a verse at a time, and I could be anywhere. I find the best stuff comes late at night when my internal editor has gone to sleep. Writing has never been easy for me, I’ve never written a song in fifteen minutes. Songs typically take months and some even years. I’m kind of a perfectionist, but if you aren’t you’re doing something wrong. 

Josh Gray 2

Photo Credit: Taylor Dukes

OTVN: What do you find most inspires you to write a song?

Josh: Inspiration can come from anywhere, I try to write in different styles. People say write what you know and I say sure, but don’t limit yourself. Don’t write what you know if what you know is boring. I’ve written songs about relationships and songs about high-speed car chase shootouts. I’ll leave it to you to decide which one is writing what I know. 

OTVN: Do you play more than one instrument? If so, which one is your favorite to play?

Josh: I play guitar, but I think my voice is my favorite instrument. I’m starting to write songs that challenge my voice more which has been fun. 

OTVN: Who are your musical influences and why?

Josh: I listen to a lot acoustic blues from the ’20s and old folk, country, and bluegrass. When I was teaching myself guitar, I made the decision not to learn cover songs. I didn’t want to subconsciously pick up the guitar style of another musician. Due to this, I like to think I have somewhat a unique style. 

OTVN: Who are some current artist or songwriters that you would love to collaborate with?

Josh: I like what some of the modern Americana bands are doing like Shovels and Rope and Hurray for the Riff Raff. I respect anyone out there speaking their mind with their music, it’s sadly a rare thing. I have a good group of friends here in Nashville I collaborate and play shows with, namely John Dennis, Jason Erie, and Holly Bruce. Keep an eye out, we have a big show at the City Winery in Nashville on 10/23.

OTVN: What are your plans and hopes for your music in the future?

Josh: Well I have a band now, Josh Gray and The Dark Features. The plan is to play a couple of shows in Nashville each month. The rest of the time I’ll be on the road. I like visiting places and meeting new people. In the coming months, I’ll be in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and all over Tennessee. Make sure to sign up for my email list to stay up to date on where I’ll be.

Josh Gray

Photo Credits: Kayla Kohl

OTVN: We loved listening to your Debut EP, Josh Gray! Is there any future projects that you are working on that you would like us to watch out for?

Josh: Thank you, I’m currently finishing up writing my follow up, full length to be released early 2018. Expect more of a full band sound overall, but there may still be a few solo songs as well. Lots of love to my Maryland and Tennessee friends who have supported me, I couldn’t do it without them. We’re going to take this thing all the way!

Follow Josh Gray on his website and social media sites, linked below:

Official Website: www.JoshGrayMusic.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoshGrayMusic

Youtube: www.youtube.com/JoshGrayMusic

Instagram: www.instagram.com/JoshGrayMusic1 

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