Today we have West Coast Spotlight – Josh Sahunta. We catch up with Josh to talk about his musical journey. We touch base on the music scene in Edmonton as well as chat about his new release. Check out Leave Summer Behind out now!
Josh, you were born and raised in Edmonton, AB. What was the scene like growing up and how has it changed? Are you still living there?
I do indeed still live in Edmonton! I spent a lot of time between here and England growing up and so I was exposed to two different worlds. Obviously, England isn’t that much different from Canada, but it was definitely a lot more cultural there than it was (and is) here. The Edmonton scene has gone through so many changes in the time that I’ve been doing music. It was once a metal/rock hotspot city, and then a country/folk hotbed, and now it’s kind of this mishmash of different genres. The R&B/Hip-Hop scene here in particular has been growing in a huge way over the past few years. It’s a very collaborative city, and it’s never unusual to see a Hip-Hop artist writing music with a Folk artist.
What got you started in music; and subsequently what made you feel certain that this was the path for you to take?
I’ve loved music since I was little. It was always so fascinating to me. I played drums and piano very early on and didn’t start singing or playing guitar until highschool. It was always just for fun back then. After graduating university I starting taking things more serious. I did 5 years of psychology and absolutely loved it until the last 2 years of my degree, where I just felt drained and unenthused about it. I started playing shows more regularly and recording an album and eventually I just felt like I needed to give music a fair shot before pursuing any additional schooling. Haven’t looked back since!
Your song “Take All I Am” was on Netflix’s The Order second season. How did you find out about them choosing it, and what did it feel like to be featured on an international Netflix hit like The Order?
This was easily a major highlight in my career. I found out from a music supervisor who was the person I pitched the song to initially. She sent me an email letting me know she was interested in pitching my song to the show, and then eventually after a few months of waiting, she let me know it was confirmed to be on the show! It was honestly surreal, it still is. I’ve never actually watched The Order, but sometimes I’ll just go watch the scene because it’s still hard to wrap my mind around it being real.
Mid October you released your new single “Leave Summer Behind” which is such the 2020 mood. It is hopeful while still being honest about the defeat we are all experiencing. Was it a difficult line to toe?
Honestly, it was actually a pretty easy song to write. This year in many ways has felt like a prank and I wanted to channel that emotion into the song. It’s a very serious song, but it’s also meant to be humorous because 2020 has been somewhat of a bad joke.
“I’d Leave My Happy Home” is well over 200k plays on Spotify alone, what do you think resonated with fans and that song?
This is one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written, and one that for whatever reason always resonates with people when I play it live. I’ve been asked to sing this song at a lot of weddings, and it’s always the song in my set that people ask about at the end of a show. I think it’s just a very real love song. It’s about wanting to run away from your everyday normal and go on an adventure with the person you love. Who doesn’t want to do that?
What was it like watching the numbers creep up, especially since it only came out in February this year?
It was amazing! I kind of always just anticipate when I think a song will start losing steam, but this one just kept going! It’s really cool to see the impact this one has had.
Back in 2019 for “Thick And Thin” you filmed a handful of short video clips interviewing elderly couples, what was your biggest take away from the experience? Have you thought about expanding more into the documentary game?
That was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever done in my life. It was so deeply insightful, and I learned so much about marriage and just how to honour and love another person for life. My biggest takeaway was probably that a lasting marriage is about commitment, not feelings. So many marriages end because one or both of the partners say that they’ve “fallen out of love.” I personally feel that if you base anything (let alone a lifelong decision) on feelings alone, you’re going to be in for a rough ride. The best and most healthy relationships are the ones that stay committed to their vows even when they may not “feel” like it all the time.
How did you and Conch connect? You seem like you have a good vibe going?
Conch is probably my favourite person to collaborate with hands down. Not only is he a phenomenal writer, producer and artist, he’s a real homie and anytime I get together to work with him, it’s always fun and it never feels like work. I actually don’t even remember how we first connected, I think I was probably just a fan of his and DM’d him on Instagram. But we’ve been buddies ever since.
You recently did a tour in the UK. What was the biggest culture shock you experienced while over there? How do you find the crowd’s energy there vs here?
The UK tour was the best touring experience of my life so far. I spent a lot of my childhood there so there wasn’t much culture shock per se. The crowd’s energy was certainly different. The biggest thing I noticed was that going out to see live music is a thing people do for fun in the UK. Regardless of whether they know the band playing or not, it’s just a social activity that is normal. That’s not at all the way it is in Edmonton. Sometimes selling tickets to a show in Edmonton is like pulling teeth. People just don’t care for live music the same way here. It’s really sad, but it keeps you on your toes thinking about creative ways to promote shows.
The South East Asian (desi) community is one of the larger communities in Canada, but until as of late has not shared enough of the spotlight in mainstream music circles. How does being an inadvertent ambassador and role model affect you?
I think it’s great! I have definitely felt a lot of support from the SEA community in pursuing a more mainstream music career path, and I think it might partly be due to the fact that there aren’t many of us trying to do it. It’s not easy, but it is truly an honor to represent a majorly underrepresented group in this particular musical space.
Was it you that solved the Rubik’s cube on your Insta post for the bottlecap challenge?
As much as I wish I could tell you it was, I would definitely be lying.
Have you and Jacqueline set a date yet? How are the wedding plans going? What are some words of advice you would give to couples that are struggling with trying to make plans during Covid?
December 6th! It’s coming up really fast, but we’ve been talking about it for a long, long time so it’s not as much of a shock to me as it maybe should be! Wedding planning has been interesting to say the least. We’ve had to adapt to changes in group sizes, and also with trying not to have masks in our wedding photos. It’s been a challenge, but I think my advice to other couples is to consider elopement as opposed to a full-blown wedding. It’s way more affordable, there’s less drama because people will be more likely to understand, and you can do it sooner. Either that or try and fight for a venue spot for next summer (not recommended).
Obviously “Leave Summer Behind” was cathartic to a degree, but what are some other ways you have been staying positive during quarantine?
I’ve been spending a lot of time practicing! One of the biggest frustrations I had before the quarantine was that I was always doing music business related things and I never got time to actually just sit down with my instrument and practice. I’ve had so much time to do that since quarantine started and that has really boosted my spirits. I’ve also just spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection on how little control we really have over what happens in our lives. We spend all this time making our 5-year plans but who could’ve ever anticipated even a year ago that we’d be in the midst of a global pandemic right now? Things change so fast and so it’s best to just be present and roll with the punches.
With a lot of local and independent places struggling right now, what are some local favorite places you would love to give a shout out to?
I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without the help of all my local guitar stores here in Edmonton. Stang Guitars, LeprechaunFX, these guys are keeping the creative community alive. I am so grateful for all they do for our local community of musicians. Also big shoutout to Kind Ice Cream. They’re a local shop that makes the best birthday cake ice cream I have ever had in my entire life.
What do you want to say to your fans and readers?
Try to stay busy. It’s so easy to fall into depressive slumps during this time, believe me, I have. This is a perfect time to try a new hobby. Go explore the outdoors (unless you’re in Edmonton and it’s already basically Winter), and use this time to be with your friends and family. I appreciate all of you and I’m wishing you the absolute best in the coming months into the new year. Let’s hope 2021 is a little easier on us.
This West Coast Spotlight – Josh Sahunta is now at an end. Big thanks to Josh for taking the time to chat with us.
Check out Leave Summer Behind out now!
Keep up with all things Josh here
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