Josh Kelley: the Man behind the swoon

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How were you discovered?

 

“I was discovered through Napster when I was a sophomore in college.”

 

Where did you go to college?

 

“Ole Miss University of Mississippi. I put my tunes on Napster, which was like my own songs that I had made up, I figured out how to convert them into MP3s and I would look up artists on Napster that I thought I sounded like, like Dave Matthews, James Taylor and Stevie Wonder, and I would look up those artists. And I would send everyone of them a random instant message saying: If you like this person I found named Josh Kelley. And about a month after doing that, one of the recipients was an A and R guy and I got signed a year later.”

 

Was it a difficult process?

 

“Huh-uh. It wasn’t at all. It was just like I had an idea, I set the idea in motion, committed too it 100 percent, and never looked back. I knew it was going to work actually. It was weird.”

 

“So when did you decide that music was going to be it?”

 

“I’ve always known that music was going to be it. But when I made the decision to do it for Plan A, for a living, was my sophomore year basically when I was playing these live shows and I was making really good money and the demo version of “Amazing” was playing on the radio every 30 minutes, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I can totally do this.'”

 

What’s it like competing in this genre of male singer-songwriters? It’s pretty crowded.

 

“I don’t even think about it. I mean, It’s not like a horse race or a sporting event. Basically I just write great songs, and you know, if you write great songs, people are going to find out about them, people are going to hear them. Once you start competing with somebody, you’re losing the whole reason that you got into this business for – I get a rush and a high on writing songs and that’s the main reason why I do it. And if it brings a little green paper every now and then that’s cool. It’s just fun, man, it’s fun being on the road.”

 

Do you have a certain process you go through writing songs?

 

“Its just whenever the timing is right whenever I feel inspired to write something. It could be, freaking, somebody stepping on a grasshopper, it could be a kid going to lick and ice cream cone and the ice cream falling off – Luckily I always take a little recording rig with me, I can always just record it down.”

 

Was “Amazing” inspired by a certain person?

 

 

“Actually, it came from a melodic idea at first. I was sitting on my bed, I was sitting on this dorm room bed, and I was playing these chords, and the first words out of my mouth were ‘baby, you’re amazing.” And I had to figure out what I mean and what I wanted to write about and basically, mainly just wrote about the girlfriend that I had in college.”

 

Did you go to college to study music?

 

“No, absolutely not. I went basically to get an art degree in computer graphic design, sculpting and painting.”

 

Do you still keep up with that at all?

 

“Yes, all the time. I actually draw like everyday.”

 

Who would you sell you soul to perform with?

 

“Hmm. Sell my soul. Well, I’ve already done that. But I’ve got half of it left and I would sell the rest of it to play with Stevie Wonder.”

 

How did you decide to get on this tour with Jem?

 

“It was sort of an idea that we had been throwing around for a while and I don’t think my booking agent realized that she pulls the crowd that she does. We got around to doing this I was like I promise she pulls a good crowd and she does good shows, and they had to research it and they were like, ‘yeah she does.’ I had the choice of either co-headlining it or being a special guest and it was actually in our favor to be a special guest, so we’ve had a good time so far. She’s awesome.”

 

Tell me about the new album, Almost Honest.

 

“It’s definitely more of a funky soul kind of feel. The first album, when I went to college at the beginning I could only fit my acoustic guitar in the trunk of my car, I couldn’t bring my electric guitar and my drums, because you can’t play drums in a dorm room, anyway. That album was more of an acoustic feel. But when I made my second album, I had a house in LA and I had my whole studio there, my drums and and my guitars, everything, and I wrote with a lot of friends and I really got back to what I was used to growing up as a kid. I played like funk and soul and blues. I just kind of squeezed it all together, with the old style and the new style, stuck it in a blender and it’s a little bit funky.”

 

What was it like coming off the success of “Amazing” and For the Ride Home?

 

I never really knew the success, because when the album came out, I was still in college, and taking exams, and that song just happened to become a hit single. You know, I’m still trying to catch up with that song. Every night we play, when I play “Amazing” I can see everybody going, ‘oh my god, this is the guy who plays that song.’ So I’m still trying to catch up with that tune. But it didn’t freak me out, I write so many songs all the time cuz you know, its my job, out of the 140 something songs that I had for this second album, I knew that 12 of them were going to be taken to the next level.

 

“It’s really hard to choose by the way. But I send the songs to my A&R guy, I say choose your favorite 20, and he pulled out his favorite 20 and his list was very similar to mine. And out of that, 13 made the album.”

 

Was there a song that didn’t make the new album that you wish had?

 

“Oh yeah. I have a slew of them. ‘Lady of Mine;’ there’s ridiculous amounts of songs that I wish had made the album. But it’s impossible. There’s a song called ‘Amy,’ a song called ‘Caroline;’ actually, ‘Caroline’ is going to be on the Japanese release. It’s going to be great-“

 

(A band member pipes up about the newest song, ‘What I Wanna Say.’)

 

“Oh yeah, that one’s sick. We should play that tonight. ‘What I Wanna Say.’ Working title.”

 

You should, I wanna hear it. (The subject moves to his girlfriend, Katherine Heigl, of “Roswell” and most recently, “Grey’s Anatomy” fame)

 

“We met on the shoot of my video ‘Only You.'”

 

Just like Josh. Adorable.