theaussieword.com’s special interview with Josh Pyke!
Give us an introduction. How did it all begin? What had you first interested in music?
Music was always a huge part of my home life. We listened to a lot of music, and it was definitely a big interest of my folks and sisters. When I had the opportunity to start playing in a little rock band in primary school, I was just hooked, and it was all I wanted to do from that point on.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
I just follow my instincts. I’m compelled to write music. I’m very lucky that it became my job, but it’s always just been the way that I express myself and process the things that are happening in my life. I want to explore deeper meanings in things, and the best way I’ve found to articulate the things that I am exploring is to write songs. I’m essentially pursuing the thing that creatively satisfies me the most, and I’m doing it because it makes me feel good when I write a song that makes me feel closer to some kind of truth that I’m seeking.
Honestly, every goal that I set for myself when I was starting has been achieved. All I ever wanted was to play some festivals, make a record I was proud of, and be able to quit my job. When those things happen you, just kinda raise the bar and set more goals. So I did that for a few years, hoping for arias, and gold records etc, but when those things also happen, you get to a point where you realise you’ve lost focus on what you actually want to achieve, which is to make art that you’re extremely proud of. So whilst I’m super grateful and proud of those achievements, my biggest goals now are to continue to be able to make music that I’m proud of for an audience that appreciates it, and to make a living at it. And frankly that’s hard enough to achieve without all the other stuff!
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
I’m doing a series of concerts called the Fans First shows. These will be an introduction to the new album for my core fans and supporters before I head out and do more extensive touring next year.
Tell us a bit about your latest album and how would you best describe your music?
How would you best describe my music?
As for the record, I feel super proud of it, and I pushed myself very hard to make sure I felt 100% confident about every creative decision I made on it, which led to a record that feel is my best work. I think it feels balanced, hopeful whilst still exploring a darker side of things, and we really pushed ourselves (John Castle and I) with the production to include sonic pallets that I haven’t used before.
Success, what is the secret to it?
Obviously that’s a question that’s impossible to answer. For instance, you’d need to actually define “success” before anyone could identify a secret to achieving it. Success is different for everyone. For me, success is finding balance. Balance between feeling valued for doing the thing I love, whilst not allowing it to take me away from the people I love and value. That’s a struggle that’s not unique to a musician.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
Playing alongside the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for two nights was absolutely amazing. To hear my songs performed in that context was incredible and a real honour to play with such accomplished musicians in such a revered space as the Opera House.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
I’m inspired by anyone who is able to do what they love for a living. People like Sufjan Stevens who has carved such an amazing niche for himself world wide, and produces such emotionally honest records is hugely inspiring for me.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
My new record is not even out yet! No, I’m focusing on this one for a while!
The Australian music industry is actually tiny, and I mostly operate within that. The fact that the industry is so very small in Australia makes it even more of a challenge for young artists to get a proper career happening. I started a grant called the JP Partnership to give some money and mentorship to a young artist every year, and in the future I’d like to focus more on that side of things I think.
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
Gang of Youths, Packwood, Gordi, Jack Carty, Jackson Mclaren, Cloud Control, the Jezabels. There are loads of amazing songwriters in this country.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
The industry has changed in a lot of ways, but it’s essentially aiming at the same thing is always was, which is to try and draw attention to new music in the midst of lots of other great music. Social Media is a great tool for that, but the bottom line is, that if the music is no good, no amount of spin or tweeting will create any long term, sustained success for an artist. I engage with people on all the Social Media platforms, and honestly, it’s a great way to have a connection with people directly, but for me the old fashioned touring cycle will always be the best way to engage an audience and get the music out to the people.