Interview: Joshua Radin, loneliness, longing, and working remotely

Credit: Catie Laffoon

How COVID has influenced an album that speaks to everyone.

Singer/ songwriter Joshua Radin has become known for his introspective lyrics over his nearly two-decade and eight studio album long career.  His latest album, ‘The Ghost and the Wall’, goes deeper than he has ever gone before.  Written during the pandemic, Radin addresses his own sense of loneliness and longing for normalcy in song, crafting an album that we all can relate to after the last year.  Radin also found himself working in a manner he had never done before, creating the entire album remotely, working with a producer he only knew through email.  As things creep back to normal, Radin checked in with Americana UK’s Tim Newby from Italy to discuss all that and more.

Thank you for taking the time to share some thoughts about your new album.  In these lockdown/ pandemic times, how have you spent your last year?  What did you do to stay connected to music?

Well, I was alone in my house in Los Angeles for the entire pandemic.  So I decided to write this new album.  And I read so many books, swam in my pool, went on so many hikes, and every now and again, I saw a friend or two who was in my pod.  We made a pact to only see each other.

What did you discover about yourself and your music during your time at home?

I discovered that I don’t think I want to live in one place anymore.  I was meant to roam.  I always knew this but I used to have the opportunity to tour and come home.  With just home, I realized that travelling and meeting new people is the most important thing for me when it comes to keeping my soul happy.

How did the past year influence your new album?

Well, I recorded this album in a way I never have before, remotely.  I worked with Jonathan Wilson, whom I’ve never met.  We did everything over email and text.  Pretty out there.

What was it like to work with Jonathan remotely?  How did that change the recording process?

It was so different.  I never thought we’d be able to do this remotely as I usually like to figure out the production for a song while in the studio, with all the musicians.  This whole thing is pretty much just Jonathan and me.  But I’m really pleased with the way it turned out.  JW was just so great to work with. He really listened to everything I wanted to achieve, and every time he sent a file back to me, I barely had notes.

What was the writing process like for this album?  How did it differ from albums past? 

That was one thing that wasn’t too different.  It’s always me on my couch with my old guitar.

Was any of the material pre-existing or was it all freshly written for this album?

One song was pre-existing but the rest I wrote while in lockdown.

There seems to be a sense of longing on this album, something we can all relate to right now.  Was writing these songs cathartic or healing for you?

I’m glad you sensed that.  I think I was longing throughout the entire writing process.  And I honestly don’t know how I would’ve made it through the lockdown with my sanity intact had I not been able to express all the many feelings going through my head.  I’m so grateful for this job.

What was the surprise track for you, the one that maybe had a difficult birth or you did not have high hopes for? Why?

Hmmm.  I’d have to say that ‘You’re My Home’ was a track that changed the most throughout the production process.  All the other songs I sent JW were exactly the way they ended up, lyrically and musically.  But “You’re My Home” started out as a more mellow track and throughout the process, I decided it needed to build and have a chorus that would explode a bit more.

As the world starts getting back to normal, what are you looking forward to the most?

Well, I’m writing these responses from Italy, sitting in a restaurant without a mask, filling my face with different kinds of pasta and wine.  So I’d say things have definitely gotten better.  We’re not there yet, but when I think back on this time last year…let’s just say, I’m smiling.

Joshua Radin’s ‘The Ghost And The Wall’ is released on 23rd July by Nettwerk Records

About Tim Newby 59 Articles
Author of books, writer of words, enjoyer of good times. Often found with a beer in hand and barefoot at a festival somewhere. Author of 'Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound & Its Legacy' (2015), 'Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! (2019). New book 'Pete Browning: The Life & Troubled Times of a Forgotten Legend' due out in 2023. Follow him on twitter @Tim_Newby9 .
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