Welcome back to the 4X4 section, today I shine my spot light on Josh Milan.
The name Josh Milan encapsulates all that is emotive, life affirming and conscious in the ‘Soulful’, ‘House’, music scene. With a voice that is as unmistakable as his name and an impressive career that spans over 30 years. Josh has remixed chart topping successes for Lisa Stansfield, Diana Ross and Babyface to name but a few. After achieving world wide acclaim with the now legendary partnership of Kevin Hedges and Chris Herbert AKA Blaze. Since the split, Josh has ascended to new heights taking his love, passion and vision for music to a higher place.
Join me as I interview Josh; as we discuss spreading the holy gospel of love and life and bringing unity to the masses.
Josh you strike me as a person who has triumphed over adversity. Since the split from your former partner of Blaze several years ago, this must have been a difficult period for you. Can you describe what you learned about yourself during this period and how you turned this situation into a positive?
The music is business is just that, a business. And anytime one is doing business, that person should be responsible for their own business. And that is the lesson I learned from my experience while with Blaze. Never allow anyone to handle your business, friend or whoever. Handling your own business will allow you to fully understand what you’re dealing with, and not be taken advantage of. It’s an age old lesson in the music industry. It happens often because most artist want to do their art. Learning the business of music is very much like taking a college course. It’s not at all fun for most musicians.
What I learned about myself is that I’m very much a business man. For 25 years I didn’t know that. But after being devastated by the business, I quickly learned how to read contracts to the point of fully understanding them. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not the easiest thing to do for most musicians that can’t wait to perform.
Having a career that spans over 30 years you have undoubtedly seen many changes to the music industry. For example the changes in social media have affected the way that music is shared on a global scale; platforms such as YouTube have become almost instrumental in promoting tracks, much to the distain or delight of the artist depending on your stance. What are your thoughts on this issue? In your opinion if you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?
Social networking and media sites have allowed the independent artist to have a much bigger voice. It gives the smaller, less known artist the chance to introduce themselves on the same platform as the superstars of the industry. That’s great. But it also allowed for the listeners/audience to be saturated with music from anybody that feels that they have talent. And, it also opened the crippling door of file sharing. It was the beginning of the end of the music industry as we knew it. Budgets, have seriously decreased because of the lack of sales. Many record labels went out of business. Artist are now DEPENDING on gigs/performances for income.
For todays artist, on the other hand, social networking, media, and file sharing is all they’ve ever known. And they don’t seem to be stopping. So yes, I think YouTube is awesome. I just feel like artist will have to accept that sales will never be what they were. Artist will have to find a creative way through social networking to introduce themselves to the world. All artist must be proactive. The days of the label doing EVERYTHING is over. The music industry is no place for artist that aren’t willing to learn how to work social media and networking sites. If I could change something in the music industry it would be the treachery. Ironically, the music heals, speaks to our hearts and should, encourages, amongst many other things. I’ve heard it said that music is the voice of God. But the music industry/business is the opposite.
Josh your talent is multi faceted. There are few who are able to compose, produce, write and play a wide variety of instruments, let alone have a voice that touches the very soul. When working on new material, what processes do you tend to go through? For example do you write the words first then compose the melody?
That’s very kind of you to say. Thanks for that compliment. I have many approaches when doing music. I get inspired many different ways. It’s very similar to cooking. A chef cooks many different styles and ways. Sometimes he cooks the same product, but prepares it differently. Sometimes I start with a great lyric that I loved, or heard from somewhere, or I start with a chord change that I heard in another song and build a musical statement of my own around it. Sometimes I’ll start with a rhythm. It all depends on the mood of that song. I just finished my first solo album. A lot of the songs I started with lyrics. A lot has happened, and I had a lot to draw from. I did some cover songs, and because the lyrics were already written I was able to try my hand at reharmonization, and arrangement. So the approach varies.
Can you describe what the Southport Weekender events mean to you?
I went once and the feeling I got was that it’s a very musical event. There were some music lovers of all kinds there. And the performers were very musical. I like the diversity in the entertainment and the crowd. And that’s my kind of event. I enjoy all kinds of music, and Southport Weekender had something for a lot of musical taste.
In 2010 you started Honeycomb Music – who is Honeycomb Music made up of? How would you describe the style and music being released from the label?
Honeycomb is comprised of myself, Adam Cruz, and Tasha McZorn. The reason I don’t give any titles is because everybody does what needs to be done. We are a very small operation, however, we are very dedicated and focused on Global appeal. The sound is soulful. The term soulful umbrellas so many styles of music. Professionally, my roots in this business is Soulful House. However, Honeycomb is not a soulful house label. It’s a soulful label. The last project released on Honeycomb is the Honeycomb presents Black History Music album. There is a wide range of musical styles on that project, yet it all sounds related to each other. The entire album is free. at HoneycombMusicStore.com.
There is something intrinsically spiritual about your music; from the lyrics whether they be inspirational, motivational, uplifting or display honesty in human nature. I would go as far as to say that your work feels like you have brought the essence of the church into each track. How important is your faith to you and what impact do your beliefs have on your music creativity?
Thanks you so much for saying that. In my personal life, though I am not at all the perfect example of a Christian man, I do take my relationship with God very seriously. I believe in a very basic moral system of right and wrong. For me, vulgarity in my lyrics can never happen. The glorification of things that are not edifying in some way, is not part of my musicality. If it’s inappropriate for your children to listen to, then I won’t do it. I did a song like that one time in my entire career. It was fun. I enjoyed it, and a lot of people enjoyed it. It was a hit! But I felt spiritually convicted after doing the follow up to that song. So I will never do a song like that again.
Which artists / bands have you heard recently that gave you cause to cry tears of joy? Or at the very least are fine examples of emerging talent on the music scene?
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Jarrod Lawson’s self titled album. And also Laura Mvula’s “Sing To The Moon” album. Both are well produced, the lyrics are very very clever, and well thought out, there’s some serious orchestration happening with Laura Mvula, and with Jarrod, the musicianship is totally high. Can’t call either project “cheap”.
In the ever expanding world of ‘House’ music; there are as many sub genres as dance moves and countless artists / Producers all vying for attention. There has been a tidal wave of music being released. In this fast pace of life there is little time to absorb let alone listen to each track. Do you feel the urge to hit the breaks and slow the whole process down or do you thrive under the pressure? How do you balance the quantity and quality of your productions?
That’s an excellent question and I’m so glad you asked. Honeycomb is not at all interested in quantity. It takes me a while to finish some songs. I believe the soulful house scene has suffered partly because labels are rushing to put music out. I know some labels that have a schedule to release music before it’s done, which in turn puts pressure on the producer to finish. Causing the music to sound under produced. It’s so bad that now the consumer has developed a taste for that synthetic, under produced music, which makes it difficult for producers and songwriters that are really trying to come with some tangible music. So the way we deal with the fast pace and short life span of new music is to not deal with it. We believe in consistency over any schedule. However long it takes to get the song we feel is the right one, will determine the release date, not the other way around. The shelf life for new music is said to be two weeks at best. There’s nothing we can do but be consistent.
The music legacy you have created with Blaze, Elements of Life and of course through your own productions have a well deserved and special place in people’s hearts. Thank you so much for sharing your incredible journey with me.
Angel, it’s people like you that help preserve the music we love so much. You’re as important to this as the songwriter. I’d like to encourage you to continue doing what you’re doing.
Honeycomb Music LLC. www.honeycombmusicstore.com