Josh Pyke has seen some huge success, especially in his home country of Australia. This year he's released a brand new record and is coming to the UK for some tour dates, so we caught up with him to find out all about what he's been up to lately, his new material and more.
You've had four top 10 albums in Australia - how does it feel riding such a wave of success?
It’s funny, when you’re first starting out you might look at artists who blow up massively, and then kinda fade away and be envious of that trajectory. But I feel very fortunate to have been consistent over the years. I love what I do for a living, so every year I get to keep doing it at this level - just feels like a bit of a dream, even ten years in!
What's the music scene in Australia like?
The music scene here is great! Maybe even better than ever. There are good venues, there are people wanting to go to shows. There’s a whole new wave of younger artists coming through who are doing big things too. Boy and Bear, Vance Joy, Dustin Tebbut, the Jezabels, are all great artists doing good things overseas.
When I was first starting out I was led to believe that the industry was very fickle and people were likely to stab you in the back, but I’ve never had that experience; I’ve found most of the musicians I’ve ever met to be really encouraging and just into creativity more than competition. I think there’s a tendency in Australia for people to have a pretty strong bulls**t radar, and as long as the music is coming from an honest place, people are supportive of it.
'The Beginning And The End Of Everything' is your latest record, what creative process went into making this album?
It was a great period. Sometimes creativity just seems to be flowing, and I’m lucky enough that the period I wrote and recorded B&E was one of those times. It was a relief, because I’d been feeling pretty exhausted, creatively and mentally, just before writing it. But having a studio in my backyard made it easy to let creativity come and find me again, rather than me going out and trying to manifest it. I think I was able to achieve some balance in my life for the first time, and that’s helped a lot. I recorded half at home, and half with John Castle down in Melbourne, and even that process of being away from home gave me some clarity about various production elements and creative choices. It was the easiest album I’ve made.
How important is it for you to have creative control over the work you produce?
It’s paramount! I wouldn’t want to create music under my own name if it wasn’t coming from that honest, organic place. I’ve said from the start that I won’t write with an agenda, I write to purge the demons, and get the negative stuff out of my system so I can live a normal, well adjusted life. If I don’t have control of the creative process, I’d be unable to get those things out in an honest way, and I’d be a mess... AND I think the music wouldn’t be very good!
For those who haven't yet heard your sound, how best would you describe yourself as an artist?
Haha, I’d probably just tell them to ask Google! I can’t be objective about my music, and the comparisons I’ve heard made over the years have reinforced that. I guess I write songs with a focus on lyrics and story telling, but I don’t think the actual music is always “classic” singer songwriter stuff. I really don’t know!
Where do you draw influence or inspiration for your work?
Life, my imagination, art in galleries, books I’ve read, conversations over heard in crowds, random photos of people I don’t know, misheard mumbles in my own demo tracks, constant stream of consciousness ramblings written down straight after waking up, dreams, injustice, desire, regrets, memories, my kids, frustration, nature, wordplay, derivation of words, love, anger... all the usual stuff.
Your new single is out October 20 - 'Leeward side' - what was it like creating the video for this track?
Kinda brutal to be honest. It was a 16 hour shoot, and my second son had been born earlier that week, so I was sleep deprived, kinda distracted, but also excited to get the clip made. Lots of physical stuff in this clip too... all the crawling through tunnels, and climbing up walls. The wolf/husky was pretty difficult to get to perform too, so lots of time was lost there. In the end though, I love the clip and i can’t really remember much about making it now, so it’s all good!
Has music always been a passion of yours?
Yeah very much so... from as early as I remember I was drawn to music, and when I was about 12, I joined my first band, and from that time on I was very focused on “making it”. It took a long time, and I had to follow my own path, but I can’t imagine doing anything else, and I never had a back up plan, so I feel very fortunate every day.
What challenges have you faced in your career to-date?
Every day is a creative challenge. The challenge to keep pushing yourself creatively, and not get stale. Or the challenge of not freaking out if you don’t write a song for a while. That’s probably the hardest one I think. The industry has changed immensely since I started, but I feel like I’ve navigated that pretty well so far, in that I’m not afraid of changing my expectations of how people will get my music. The biggest challenge has been finding balance. I have 2 little kids, and finding balance between going away, being home, working, family, and also indulging my creative side has been a big challenge. So far it’s working well though.
You'll be touring next month and into November, what should fans coming to those shows expect?
I can’t wait to get back over! I’ve made sure I get over once or twice for every album, and I always love it. I’m playing solo, with a loop pedal and a couple of extra adornments, but essentially me and my guitar playing tracks from my whole catalogue.
If you could work with anybody going forward who would you choose and why?
I love James Mercer from the Shins. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a bunch of amazing artists in my time, but I’d definitely be keen to write a few tracks with him.
Finally, what's next for you?
I’ll wrap up 2014 with a few final shows in Australia over summer, and then focus on a big project for next year. I’m doing a collaboration with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, where they will be playing a buch of songs from my catalogue, with me playing along side them. I’m really excited about it; it’s a bit of a dream. After that I reckon it’ll be time for another record!