Record execs often speak of the “It” factor. The “It” that makes you destined for stardom. I have been blessed in my lifetime to come across a few individuals whose talent could not be denied in any setting. One in particular is a young man by the name of Josh London. I have had the pleasure of meeting this artist as he recorded some of his very first songs with my mentor and business partner Davel “Bo” Mckenzie (Mary J. Blidge, David Banner, Dave Hollister). The “It” was not just his raw talent but his determination and willingness to work and get better. Since then, his road of this Suffolk, VA native has had the twist and turns that could only craft the makings of a star. Sharing the stage with iconic voices such as Tank, Tyrese , Faith Evans, Keyshia Cole, Eric Benet, and Carl Thomas, Josh polished his craft into a style as diverse as his fanbase. I recently got a chance to catch up with Josh just before the release of his new EP Josh London vs Paris.
How did you start in this industry?
I started with Sprague Williams and Bo Mckenzie. I was 15 and at the time I wanted a John Legend sound. They got me in the studio raw, no auto-tune, just protools and my vocals. The thing was if I wanted to be a star I couldn’t use those and I had to really sing. So it was a lot of “redo, redo, redo.” It kinda built a foundation and I admired John Legend at the time and I still do. I wrote a song for him and he was coming to Virginia for a concert, I felt like this was my opportunity to get close to him some kind of way. I found out who his manager was, a guy by the name of Jeff Christie, and I took his name and emailed every version of it I could think of, at Gmail, Yahoo and at the time everyone had Blackberry so I did those too. It took a while but the Thursday before the show I get a email from him. He asked if I could pick John up from the airport the day of the show. So I went into the studio and recorded 5 songs and this will be my chance. I get another call before the show saying I was no longer needed.
I was crushed like I missed my opportunity. To make up for it his manager said he would give me passes to John’s show. So yes I got another opportunity. I get to the show and NO, I can’t get backstage, can’t even get a ticket. Found out security would not let anyone backstage at all. His manager told me I could come to the after party at a club in Virginia Beach. Get to the after party and get to VIP but John doesn’t show up. So I stayed and scoped everyone out so I could get names. They went back to the hotel and I get a call to come out to the next show but it was in Fredericksburg the next day.
One of my friends drove me up to the concert and when I get there I had an envelope with a regular ticket. So Ok, I had to figure out how to get backstage. I did some research and found out who the tour manager was and told everyone I was here to see him. I finally find him and told him that John’s manager told me to give him my CD to bring to him. I gave him the CD and as he walks away he drops it in the trash can. So the whole ride I’m like they are just jealous of me, trying to big myself up.
I was working at Canon here in Virginia and my supervisor told me to stop. I felt it was cause I wasn’t the best of tech support reps but but he said cause he felt I was too talented to be there. So I took my last paycheck and hopped on the Chinese bus and moved to New York. I did more research and found out the studio where John was recording. This was my opportunity cause John is working on his album and if I was recording in the same studio he will hear me and I will become his artist. I wind up working with a producer who had worked with Madonna and others. I only had $250, it cost me $35 to get to New York and the studio was $50 an hour. The plan was to only spend $100 at the studio and hopefully by the time open my mouth he will like what he hear and want to work with me. That is exactly what happen. I sang Bipolar Girl which was a song I wrote and he actually stopped the record and asked me to sing accapella.
We worked together and at the time I didn’t have anywhere to stay and he noticed that. He allowed me to stay until the contract came around. I emailed Jeff, John Legends manager and he told me not to sign and to wait for him. Well when I told him my decision he pulls the contract and kicks me out. At the time I was homeless and the only one who knew was my aunt who sent me money to eat and paid my cell bill. I was homeless for a good two months, sleeping on couches and at the train station. I refuse to go home cause that was like failure. I get a call from Bo while at the train station. He asked where I was at, I’m like I’m in New York trying to make it. He goes well I’m in Jersey and I need you here to write some hooks for an artist. I got my Amtrack ticket and he picked me up from the station in Jersey and that allowed me three weeks to have somewhere warm to stay. When everyone went to sleep I was sneaking in the studio to record my stuff.
While there Jeff sent his assistant to the house to hear my stuff and she loved it and told him he should listen to my stuff. Bo took me back home to VA for Christmas. Everyone’s looking at me like I’m doing my thing in New York and should be heading back after the holiday but I knew that I’ll be down here to stay. The day after Christmas everyone was expecting me to leave but I already knew I was staying. I get a call from Jeff telling me to pack my things and to come live with him. Once I got there day one it was artist development. He helped me further develop my image as an artist. Then he put me around some great people and we been rocking for about three years.
So tell me about this new project:
It’s Josh London VS Paris. I would say to expect the true essence of who I am. First I am a Gemini born June 4th. I think I am the epitome of a Gemini, there’s two sides of me. Sometimes laid back, don’t want to be bothered and just want to keep to myself then the other side thats bold and just don’t care. That album reflect that. I love making music, I love having sex and then I love partying and inspiring. That album has been broken into two parts, Josh London being the alternative, songs that bring love back to the surface and Paris is my alter ego that brings sex, and love back to the bedroom.
Who influences you today?
Everybody, every person I meet whether good or bad, good artist or bad artist. I learn from them and take in the good and bad of what they do. I listen to people’s stories around me. Musically it would have to be Prince, Tina Turner, and John Legend. Another great influence in my life has been Jill Scott, who is also a great mentor. I Love Jill, she’s so real and she recognized my talents, and almost everyday she sends me encouragement and give me pointers to prepare me for this fast life. I am currently working with her now and I cannot express how much I appreciate her guidance.
As an artist, what would you consider success?
Being able to stay true to yourself. Not allowing this business to turn you into something you’re not. If I am able to continue on the path that I am on and stay myself then I consider that success.
Josh London Vs Paris will be on iTunes mid-March. You can find more music and updates on www.Joshlondonworld.com twitter and instagram @Iamjoshlondon