Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview with Josiah Gentry: An Instant Pop Star or at least he should be

Josiah Gentry is a 16-year-old indie pop-rock artist from Grand Rapids, MI. Not only is he a singer, he is a true artist. Inspired by the beauty of life itself, Josiah Gentry transcends his gift of the mind, heart, and melody through his music. As a photographer might capture life on film from his point of view, Josiah captures life through his eyes and translates it with beautifully spoken poetry delivered with captive music.

When I stumbled across Gentry’s MySpace page, I saw a handsome kid and he looked like he was already a star with his long straight hair brushed to the side and inviting smile. I was compelled to press play on his music player and it was the song, “Like Summer”. Immediately, I was hooked. I couldn’t believe this song came from an unknown. This song is simple yet catchy, but also has all the musical features that could entertain an entire generation of listeners. “Like Summer” could easily be a top 10 on the Top 40 charts. This simple song sings about the girl on the other end of the phone line while he describes his feelings to her way into the night. It is a relatable song and it makes the listener ponder about their own days of summer.

Music from someone so young, I had some reservation about the rest of Gentry’s library, but that was before I heard the entire album. From song to song, it threw out all my preconceived expectations out the window. The first track on his EP was “GR Rockstars”, an acoustic rock song with an almost contemporary ring to it with a mid-tempo rhythm that appeared to make no sense, but it is actually a shout out song dedicated to his hometown.

Another song that caught my attention was “Don’t Break My Heart”, a well written song about regaining his control and not allowing his insecurity to ruin his relationship.

An especially grown up song is “The Old Version of Me”. It is a beautifully crafted song sung along side with the alluring voice of Erika Lopez. It is incredibly short song that made me wish there was more. The story behind painted a perfect picture about missing each other and describing whom they both were when they first met. This simple love story made it even more enjoyable.

Another great duet is the song, "Guys Like Me Aren't Allowed to Write Songs Like These" co-sung with Charla Bultman. This charismatic and cute song is exactly what the title is...about writing way too many love songs of being hurt, but still wanting to be with “her” as she sings back to “him” and says, “Now is not the time to use your words to make me cry again. You’ve written quite a few. You’re written too many love songs.”

Instead of candy coating his songs like a Justin Bieber, Miley, Cyrus, or Jonas Brothers, Gentry sings about real issues regarding love, loss, and hope and he does it with the maturity and respect of a true musician.

The one exception is the song, “Oh, My Beating Heart”. It is an up-tempo acoustic love song which is full of cheesy, warm-hearted lyrics, “Oh, my beating heart, you got me going around again…oh, my beating heart, got me pounding in my chest.” There is nothing serious about this song, except revealing his fun nature within his lyrics.

Enjoy a special 4-track music preview from his self-titled EP with a special appearance with Josiah Gentry on The Great Unknowns Presents, Ep 73

Q&A with Josiah Gentry:
So, tell me how you got started in music? I guess it was mostly derived from boredom. When I was twelve, I was taking piano lessons, and I hated them. There was something about being forced to play music that didn't seem right, especially because I had no choice in what I wanted to play. My brother came home with an electric guitar, and I bought it off him. I played it quite a bit, it was very refreshing to be able to play music and feel some passion. At that point, I mostly played punk music... I was 12, what could you expect?
How old were you when you wrote your first song?
I was 14 years old.
You obviously love to perform, because you are booked solid through August. Thinking back to your first performance, what was it like and how did the crowd react after your set?
I performed for the first time at a costume party. The night was mostly geared towards live music, I played in between two bands as they were setting up. I just played 2 songs, and I did terrible. I was so nervous. There was really probably only like 15 people in attendance, and most people were not paying attention, but I owe a lot to the few people who were and those of them who encouraged me to keep playing.
Was this the point when you knew you made the right decision to pursue a music career?
I'm still having a hard time with the "knowing" part. I honestly am undecided in what I'll be pursuing after high school, for now I'm just playing music because it's what I am passionate about, we'll see what the future holds for me.
If you weren’t a musician, is there anything else you would like to do?
I have a couple other promising hobbies. I am a photographer and I do a lot of graphic design work as well, if music fails... I have a few back-up plans.
When you write lyrics, do you write about your personal life?
As cliche as this sounds... my music my journal.
I have a very strong personal connection with every song that I write, most of which are deeper than they appear to be.
You have a lot of songs on your CD, but I am sure you have so much more to offer. How many songs have you written so far?
I've performed over 40 originals, but I only have around 20-25 songs that I would still feel confident enough about to actually perform today.
Who inspired you to become “Josiah Gentry”, the artist?
Oh my, what a question. I started writing music because I wanted to touch peoples lives. My first song was written about drug and alcohol addictions, it was a desperate attempt to open some of my friends eyes to the lifestyle that they had.
What musicians do you look up to?
On a personal level, I look up to Chris Dupont and This April the most. Both are really great artists, and I would recommend them to anyone who's interested in listening to great music.
On a level of musicianship, I really look up too Aaron Marsh. He's the vocalist of the band Copeland(which just recently broke-up). I'm also really inspired by bands such as The Fleet Foxes and Lydia.
If you have to pick which artist to perform with, who would it be?
So many choices! The national act that I feel I would fit best with, would probably be NeverShoutNever, but for me personally I would have really liked to play with Copeland.
On your MySpace page, you wrote where it says, “Sounds like”, you wrote “A kiss on the mouth”. What did you mean by that?
Oh gosh, is that still on there? That's a little taste of my adolescent attempts of being witty. There's really no background behind it... Ha-ha!
At the beginning of the year, you announced that you had a new project called, “Summerville”. What is this about? Are you still planning on expanding that project?
It's basically a project that I started simply because that kind of music is a lot of fun to produce. Though, the "electro-pop" style generally holds little-to-no emotional value, it's a really energetic and fun genre. I haven't really done anything publicly with it, but since I finally finished my album I can start turning my attention to my side-projects again. I've been doing some work on some covers for Summerville, hopefully I'll have them all set to jet pretty soon.
When high school starts back up are you going to keep performing?
Oh yes, performing is my outlet. I've been performing year-round ever since I played my first show.
Any plans on a music video?
I hope to do one soon, I have a few video directors that might be working with me soon. But there are no plans in the works at this time.
Do you have an official CD release party coming?
It actually already happened! It took place on July 9th, the day of the CD release.
What else is in store for Josiah Gentry?
I'm hoping to do more of a national-tour next summer, but besides that... your guess is as good as mine. I'm just going to see where this thing takes me!

Find more of Josiah Gentry on: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Purevolume
Also, listen to a special 4-track preview with a special appearance with Josiah Gentry's self-title EP on The Great Unknowns Presents, Ep 73

Written and interviewed by Michael J

1 comment:

  1. Josiah is the man!! I love his music and his views on life. They're fantastic