Joshua Radin Shares His Secret to Writing Music and How His Songs Reflect His Personal Life
Fans have heard his popular songs on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Now, recording artist Joshua Radin is going on “The Coffeehouse Live” tour amid his most recent album, “The Fall.” Entertainment Voice caught up with Radin for a conversation about his special guests who will join him on tour, how his personal life impacts his writing, and his secret to creating music.
How does the name of your tour, “The Coffeehouse Live,” speak to what fans will experience at your shows?
It will be intimate. It’s being sponsored by the Sirius station, which is called The Coffeehouse. This is the first time they’re doing the tour for their radio station. They approached me and asked me if I would be a part of it and I said yes.
What songs are you the most excited for your fans to hear on tour?
I play a lot of the old ones. But I always play the new ones. You have to play it for fans live before they really love the song. Sometimes they love it off the record and sometimes they need to hear it live.
Rachael Yamagata and Brandon Jenner will join you on the road. How did that collaboration come about?
Rachael is a very dear friend of mine. We actually went to university together. I’ve known her for a long time. She’s opened for me for three or four different tours. She’s one of my favorite people musically and personally. I had never met Brandon before, but the Coffeehouse played one of his songs and I loved it.
What do you look forward to most about when going on tour?
I don’t play a lot of local shows here in Los Angeles where I live. So when I get to play music in front of people, that’s always my favorite. It’s a lot of travel, so for an hour and a half every night it’s all worth it. It can get pretty tiresome but it kind of washes away once you’re on stage.
You were also the producer on your latest album “The Fall.” How was that different for you than previous records that you have released?
It went a lot quicker because I knew exactly what I wanted to do before going into the studio. I brought my guys in and they know me so well. I can play a song and they know what I want. A lot of it was done almost live because we just let the tape roll and got a great take.
How do you feel your writing style has evolved for “The Fall” in comparison to your debut album, “We Were Here,” in 2006?
I don’t know. I’m still kind of writing. They’re just journal entries essentially. I don’t know if it has really evolved [musically]. It has evolved along the same lines as my life has evolved. I try to connect the songs as intimately as possible and make people feel like they’re in my living room with me.
You are known for writing heartfelt songs. How did your personal life influence your lyrics on “The Fall”?
It’s all personal. I make myself as vulnerable as I can. That’s what people will respond to. If I’m writing about universal themes like falling in love or how people get along with each other, you know, then I feel like a good song kind of shrinks the world. It makes it seem smaller. Whether you speak a different language or you’re a different race or religion or whatever your political beliefs. We all know what it’s like to have our heart broken and fall in love. I try to stick to those themes. It’s what I’m interested in most. When I feel emotional, that’s when I write. What makes me feel most emotional is something to do with my love life.
You have said that you write your music before the lyrics. Is that always the case on all of your songs?
Yes it is. I usually have a melody floating around in my head and I’ll play guitar and like the chord progression. I hum the melody with gibberish and then that sticks in my head for awhile. I sort of wait until I have something I really need to express. I could walk around for a week with this melody in my head but I don’t have anything I need to say. It’s kind of like love letters. Something I’m not so good at expressing myself with, I’ll write it in a song. It’s easier.
You began writing music when you were 30 after being a screenwriter and painter. What made you want to go this route and do you still dabble in screenwriting and paint?
When I picked up the guitar at 30 I never really planned on becoming a professional musician. I just wanted to learn a few chords and a few songs that I love like Tom Petty and Dylan and Simon. After a few months I thought ‘I’m a writer why not write my own songs?’ I kind of fell into my career and so I guess I got really lucky.