Recording artist Joshua Harrell looks forward to a Brighter Day

Joshua Harrell’s first full length album is a collection of infectiously catchy electronica mixed with good-old fashioned neo-soul and trip-hop influences giving the album an eclectic feel without sacrificing continuity of the music. While it is apparent that Harrell is new to songwriting (as a couple of the tracks feel a bit forced and even somewhat dated [Touch My Body] and his vocal range is somewhat limited in places) Harrell does a great job working around his limitations even if he doesn’t completely overcome them.

With a little work and some tweaking of his sonic palette, Harrell could well become a contender for well-crafted, pop-centric dance music. As first albums go, this is a daring and mostly well rendered offering that deserves a listen. Look for Joshua Harrell to refine his sound and release more tempered and focused work as time goes on and he grows more steadily into his role as a recording artist.

Recently, Joshua Harrell took time to speak with O&AN about his new album during an exclusive interview.

O&AN: Your first release was an EP called Johnny Be Happy a year ago. Why did you decide to release that first as opposed to pursuing a full album like you did this time out?

JH: That was my first time writing, so I did really well to get out two songs. So we just did several remixes and I just had to do Siouxie & the Banshees Peekaboo because it is a song that has never gotten enough attention. I felt like it was my duty to bring it back to the forefront. 

When I was doing the licensing research for the song I was shocked to learn that no one else had covered it. Being in Atlanta, the Hip Hop capitol of the world, I feel like I’ve had to look to Europe a lot for inspiration and those are the songs that I embraced at a young age and grew up with. With any luck I will be able to do covers of some other people’s work that I admire in the near future.

O&AN: What was your inspiration for Brighter Day and what do you fell it says about you as an artist?
JH: It was very important to me that this first impression of me as a recording artist be reflective of who I am as a whole at this point in my life. I didn’t so much look at this album as a project so much as I looked at it as my coming out. I was really proud of Johnny Be Happy, but I don’t feel like I really went for it as an artist with that release as much as I could have.

I knew this time it would be my coming out as who I am as an artist. The album is very much about happiness and acceptance. When I was going out to dance clubs as a younger gay man all the way up until now it was never really about scamming on guys. It was about getting out on the dance floor with my friends and having a great time being free of all our worries while the music flowed around us. We would all lip sync the songs and put on little performances to the songs that we loved. When I was writing the opening song that was what I had in mind. The rest of the album deals with relationships and the people in my life and who I am in relation to them. From the time I was three years old I’ve known I wanted to be an entertainer, but I think I hid out in the business world for a long time before I finally decided to go for it.

O&AN: How difficult is it as someone who has lived in the relative comfort of the business world for so long suddenly stepping out as a recording artist?

JH: In the business world it is so much easier to talk about things. Even if what you are talking about is something you created, it still has a life of its own separate from you. All of a sudden as a recording artist I have to talk about myself and I find it’s much harder.

Everyone wants to know what inspired this song and why did you write that lyric and I have to think of responses for it all. It’s almost as if I have never had to talk to anyone about anything before because it’s so true and it’s so raw that I don’t know that I can give anyone a quick sound bite without having them over to tell them all about my life. It’s a real challenge, but I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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