Back in January 2019, I met Joshua on my way home from work, while he was busking in the CBD of Melbourne. Immediately, I was mesmerised by his voice and charisma. But distracted by the daily grind, I passed by and forgot about it.
Two weeks later, I ran into him again while he performed in the streets. This time, I made sure to note down his details to check out his music online. Fast forward two months, I attended the Mind over Matter event where he performed, and he agreed to let me interview him about his journey with music – the story of Joshua.
Newscoop: Tell me a bit about yourself, did you grow up in Melbourne?
Joshua: 29 years old. Half Irish, half Ghanaian. Born in Melbourne. Love Music. I lived all my life in Melbourne. Lived a few years in Thailand, did some traveling. I’ve been there four times. I studied marketing here. I have a marketing degree. Wasn’t really for me. No office work. Just followed music.
Newscoop: What got you into music? How long have you been making music?
Joshua: It was a girl that broke my heart that got me into music. That’s what made me start writing poetry. But my mum was always playing music. She was always singing Bob Marley around the house.
Newscoop: Aside from Bob Marley, which other artists were your main influencers?
Joshua: Shaggy. She used to play those two. But my biggest inspiration is André 3000. Old School. You know him from OutKast “I’m sorry Miss Jackson, oh”.
Newscoop: Yes, of course. So, having your heart broken got you into writing poems and then writing your own songs?
Joshua: Yeah, writing poems and I was working a job at a cash converter. I’d seen a guitar on the wall. Every morning I was going to work to open up, I kind of kept getting closer to the guitar, and I ended up buying it and learning the guitar.
Newscoop: You’re playing the guitar and…?
Joshua: Guitar, keyboard, piano, a little bit of saxophone and I produce music. While I was studying marketing, I was always doing music.
Newscoop: Producing music, it’s so inspiring and interesting – what is your process from idea to finished song?
Joshua: When I’m creating music, I usually start with a blank canvas, so I start a new project. Then whatever comes to me, whatever I feel I will start creating. By the end of it, I’ll lay out the track. Then I basically turn that loop, that four bar loop that I’ve made, from a blank canvas into a song. Once it’s laid out, I kind of just get a blueprint in my head. I see how it needs to be done. Then I just start to name the vocals, arranging it, layering it. But I freestyle everything.
Newscoop: How do you freestyle? It just comes to you naturally or is it practice?
Joshua: I watched this interview with Snoop Dogg. He said “Freestyling is just the practice. If you do it for long enough, it becomes a real thing.” I’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s getting closer to the real thing.
Newscoop: How do you combine freestyle and music? Do you first think of the lyrics and then make the melodies afterwards, or at the same time?
Joshua: First I make the music, then I’ll layer the words over. I try and find melodies and I freestyle with the beat. It might take me ten takes and then on the ninth take, I’m like “That’s the one.” I know when it’s the right melody and the song is going to work out.
I witnessed the magic happening first-hand. The day I interviewed Joshua, he let me watch him and his friends produce music in his studio for hours. A group of incredibly talented musicians. A group of friends, a family, just doing what they love: creating music together. Everyone contributed parts of a song. A melody. A beat. A verse. Free of judgement and rules, full of vulnerability and creativity.
Newscoop: I was listening to your EP during the last weeks. Some themes and messages I got from it were: self-love, self-development, empowering the people around you to love themselves, be themselves and follow their path or dreams. How would you describe your music? Which message do you want to get across?
Joshua: Why I try to promote my music is just because…Don’t waste your time on this Earth because we’re only here for a short period of time. It’s not very long at all. So, I feel like I just want to encourage everyone to do what they love. What they consider to make a difference, their purpose in life. You can fail in something you don’t want to do, but find something you do want to do.
Newscoop: I think that’s what’s so special about Melbourne. What we talked about at the Mind over Matter Event where you performed. People in Melbourne can be more themselves. They feel more confident to do what they really want to do here. Besides, I watched this interview with Jay-Z where he’s talking about what his intention is with his music. Say you are writing about a struggle you have in your life. And then someone listens to it and doesn’t feel any more like the only one going through this.
Joshua: Exactly. I find now that I’m able to be vulnerable with my music, I know that everyone is going through the same thing. Everyone around the world is going through depression. Nobody escapes it. It’s an epidemic. No matter how big your house is. No matter how many cars you got. No matter how many dollars you got in your bank account. It doesn’t matter. You can still go through depression. Something is going to make you sad. You’re never completely satisfied. I think to try and live with less expectations is better.
Joshua’s lyrics hit hard because they are unapologetically honest and genuine. Sharing his own experiences, he encourages his listeners to find themselves, chase their dreams and do what they love. Mixed with soul-full melodies and hip hop beats, his music is empowering and healing.
Newscoop: What do you love about making music?
Joshua: I just love how happy it makes me.
Newscoop: I read somewhere it actually releases endorphins in your brain. Singing, playing an instrument.
Joshua: It’s like a high.
Newscoop: For sure. Is there anything you dislike, hate or find challenging about making music? I heard from some artists they are so self-critical – that it’s never good enough.
Joshua: Everyone goes through this. I’m learning more to just let go. And I’m only going to be better. I don’t plan on stopping music ever. I don’t ever want to get to a point where I’m too afraid to release something. I just want to keep creating and releasing.
Newscoop: At the Mind over Matter event, when my friend complimented you for your great performance, you said: “I don’t like to perform too much, because when people compliment me I get anxious…
Joshua: I hate compliments.
Newscoop: Is this what you mean when you said: “You got to stay grounded”? With the art you do, to not lose sight of yourself. If you start doing it for people or for certain expectations, you start to lose yourself in the process.
Newscoop: What about the busking scene in Melbourne? Do you remember the first time you busked on the streets?
Joshua: The first time I busked on the street I was with people. I was just walking around the streets seeing a lot of buskers and I jumped on a microphone. It wasn’t until I started busking by myself which was like a year and a half ago that I started to take it more seriously. I’ve always loved music. I wasn’t nervous to busk. The difficult thing I find is standing up and performing. You know “Everyone having a good time?!” That kind of stuff I find really difficult. That’s the difference between being a musician and an entertainer. I want to be both. So, I need to work on that entertainment aspect. But it’s going to be a while.
Newscoop: From your songs, I got the message “Live in the moment” a lot. But I also want to ask you: what’s your vision for the next year, the future, for your journey with music? Where do you see yourself in one year, ten years?
Joshua: I want to build a family, people I’ve met along the way. My friends, keep everyone close along the journey. Eventually, get a big place, a mansion, and get together to make music. Build a big studio. It’s like a family but no one is born from the same family.
Newscoop: A family you choose. Beautiful.
Joshua: There’s no great plan. There’s no great idea. There’s only great implementation. So, take action.
To check out more of Joshua Caleb’s music, follow him on Spotify or Instagram.