Interview – Joshua Sade James

Canadian artist, Joshua Sade James has unveiled his new single, “Closer”.

“I feel like, if Twilight had a pop theme song for Bella’s mood swings between Jacob and Edward… This would be it,” the multi-talented artist explains. “I want people to start jamming out, then catch themselves saying, ‘oh, WAIT. I thought this was a happy song.’

“I wrote this song at the beginning of mine and my partner’s relationship and, over a year later, it rings more true than ever,” James shares of his personal and evolving inspiration behind the track. “Since COVID-19 restrictions shut down the borders, we haven’t seen each other in over nine months, so ‘(pushing) people out of my way to get a little bit closer’ doesn’t sound too far off.

“I bet it’s the same for anyone who’s separated right now.

“I hope that polarizing feeling reaches people, especially those who relate a little too well to this kind of situation, being separated from your loved one… I connect on another level with you right now, if you do. It has not been easy, but I can say: stay strong, stay sane, and stay home. You are worthy, you are loved, and you are perfectly you. We’ll get through this.”

Joshua has also released a video to accompany the single, with a small-but-mighty crew of creative powerhouses.

“I got lucky with this project,” he offers. “My friends had all been cooped up and quarantined in their homes for almost six months by that point, so I thought ‘okay, let’s do something. Let’s do a minimal music video.’

“First up, I asked my fellow Sheridan alum, choreographer and dancer Alexandra Gratton, to be a part of the project. I knew I’d be challenged — but just enough that I would have fun, and not look terrible while doing it. I remember saying, ‘whatever you choreograph, I gotta be able to do it in platform shoes on grass, so just don’t break me…’

“Once again, I got lucky; Alexandra just so happened to be dating Alex Gayoso — an incredibly talented videographer, cinematographer, and photographer extraordinaire who’s done a lot of work with Neon Dreams, and just did Carl Wolf’s fully animated video. Suddenly, not only was Alexandra wanting to choreograph, but now Alex became interested in the project as well!”

From there, the three masterminds executed on James’ concept underscoring juxtapositions between ‘light’ vs ‘dark,’ bright colours vs black and white, and love vs rage.

“In particular, I wanted to show our emotions that take over our thoughts when faced with conflict,” James explains. “Especially during this lockdown and being long-distance.

“When planning the video, I remember saying I wanted it to be like the ‘Gay Matrix,’” he continues. “I want it to seem like I’m battling my inner thoughts and temptations, jumping back and forth between this colourful, monogamous gay icon, and this gothic vampire slut.”

Check out the video below, and find out more about Joshua Sade James via our mini-interview.

First off, care to introduce yourself to our readers?

Hey Hey Hey, my name is JSJ aka Joshua Sade James. I am a 25-year-old emerging Canadian pop artist originally from Kitchener-Waterloo, ON. At the beginning of 2020, I moved to Toronto to pursue the dream and start “paying my dues”. That plan was quickly derailed at the beginning of the pandemic and I moved back home to Kitchener.

Since the age of nine I began writing songs, poems, freewriting; feelings if you will… Growing up I never fully felt secure in myself and began to find freedom in my writing; it allowed me to be anyone I wanted to be. I started writing at 8 years old and never stopped. I found solace in my songs. However, I wasn’t vocal about any of my own work until I was 15 years old and found my tribe.
At age 15, I joined a pop show choir called KW Glee. This group allowed me to fully be myself without judgement. I found myself creating relationships I never dreamed of. The encouragement, the people, and the performance experience led me down a path to musical theatre. Soon I would be auditioning and then five years later graduating from Sheridan College’s Honours Bachelor of Musical Theatre Performance Program. Along with the degree I had the honour to claim the Sheridan Pop Award for Outstanding Performance – even in theatre school, I was still pop-oriented.

After graduation I went on tour around Ontario, performed in multiple shows between Kitchener, ON and Myrtle Beach, SC. I had the time of my life and also saved up enough money to buy a MacBook and begin producing my own songs. In January of 2019, I began producing and wrote nearly two albums worth of material. This led me to pursue FACTOR and the KW Arts Grant, allowing me to record and release the music I have worked so hard on.

Next thing you know I’m stuck in quarantine with so many feelings and many many song ideas. I began writing more and more and now I have the list of songs I am ready to release for 2021! Some of the worst experiences, yet the best music came out of 2020. This pandemic truly put what matters into perspective for me.

Needless to say, I found my calling, my passion, and myself during this last, almost decade, of my life. I now honour the mantra “you are worthy, you are loved, and you are perfectly you.” I wasted too much time worrying about what others think, and now I know to never give up, and be true to who you are.

Random facts? My favourite colour is orange, my favourite number is 5, I am a Gemini Sun – Libra Moon, I love the water, and last but not least taking long walks on the way to your computer to open Spotify and search “Closer by JSJ” and hitting that like button <3.
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Tell us about the recording process behind “Closer”?

I wrote this song at the beginning of my and my partner’s relationship. Now, over a year later, it rings truer than ever. Since COVID shut down the borders, we haven’t seen each other in over 9 months. So “[pushing] people out of my way to get a little bit closer” doesn’t sound too far off; I bet for anyone who’s separated right now.

The process for CLOSER is an interesting one because of how this song evolved. This song was originally written and self-produced back in 2019. I wrote it about wanting to be closer to my partner at the time, applied for an EP Grant from the KW Arts Fund and once it was approved, it was shelved. It wasn’t until my first three releases One Thing, Feel Alright & All Fall Down that we (my mix engineer Ron Chilton and myself) revisited the single and once we had another listen, we said: “ohhhh this one’s gonna be fun!!” In reality, this song began in March of 2019 but wasn’t fully realized until the month of November a year later.

The process began with me messing around with GarageBand in my living room. Soon after I would be texting my Mix Engineer, Ron Chilton, from CedarTree Studios to get started on the project. We began by fleshing out the song itself, adding different loops, recording new bass parts, guitar, piano, adding strings, editing the loops I already had, and last but certainly not least: re-record the vocals on a studio microphone. The production of this song was super fun. It allowed us to just play in the studio with contrasting emotions of happiness and rage; then and now. I felt truly comfortable and proud of this song when I was recording. It allowed me to tap into my more theatrical side with some of the background vocals, callouts, delivery of that vocal, and most importantly how we packaged and mixed the song. After a few weeks of 12 hour days in the studio, 37 mixes, and 8 masters later; we had a final product!

Once we had a final mix I began thinking about the visuals of the song; the Music Video. What I wanted to do was have it look like I was in a flamboyant, super colourful matrix and then have those shots juxtaposed with darker shots almost vampiric in nature; light vs dark.

I reached out to my friend and fellow Sheridan Alumni, Alexandra Gratton, to choreograph and be a part of the project. She just so happened to be dating Alex Gayoso, so suddenly not only was Alexandra wanting to choreograph but now Alex became interested in doing the project! He’s done a lot of work on Neon Dreams, Canadian pop Icon’s, video’s the last few years, and just did Carl Wolf’s fully animated Music Video (once again, I got lucky). After some “hostessing with the mostessing” and being smart with my budget, we created a stellar video with the help of these two creative masterminds.

Cut to three months after the shoot, and we finally had a final product – both a master and a music video. I set a date, uploaded both the song and the video, and the rest is history. Go watch the M/V on Youtube and stream Closer on Spotify, Apple music & more NOW!

What was the highlight of 2020?

December 31st 11:59 pm 2020? Hahahah, honestly 2020 was an interesting year…

There were so many troubling yet incredible things that happened last year. The pandemic was/is terrible, but it allowed us to truly look inward and reflect on our behaviour as human beings. I believe there was a collective shift in mindset around the globe. I had to move three times, lost 2 different jobs, wrote a shit ton of great music that is planned to be released this year, and I got to do it from the comfort of my own home with the support of my family. I know I’m only supposed to pick one so I’ll make this short and sweet and give you two…

1. I am extremely happy we had time to self-reflect and begin a journey of forced self-exploration. This allowed me to not only dig deeper on my own personal issues with anxiety and self-love but then brought out songs I’d never thought I’d write.
2. Back in April, JoJo – one of my FAVOURITE artists since 2004 – went live on her Instagram and randomly accepted my request. I got to sing for JoJo… I have a screen recording of it and I remember that rush of adrenaline and emotion from finally being able to meet one of my heroes.

Ergo, this year was terrible yet beautifully transformative for so many, including myself. That would be my highlight of 2020.

What do you hope to accomplish in your career in 2021?

In 2021, I hope to accomplish the feeling of being successful in my career. Honestly, I hope I’m actually successful, get nominated for a Juno, release 6 singles and one full EP, Win the Jim Bean Talent Search, get nominated for an Indie Award, go viral on TikTok, have one of my singles then go viral to get played continuously on the radio/streaming services and make back the money I’ve invested in my career.

I would love to and will accomplish these goals. However, if they happen to fall through I want to and will maintain the feeling of success. I have found that if you focus only on the stream count, the amount of times you get playlisted, etc. it becomes a numbers game. It takes out any and all fun that you’ve had creating the project in the first place. I want to and will focus on the art itself this year. I will accomplish each of these goals listed, and do it with a smile on my face (especially if I don’t achieve them).

Continue to manifest and believe in yourself. You are more powerful than you think.

Is there anyone out there you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

ANYONE?! Okay, there are quite a few…. Let’s do a Top 3 situation because I am a queen who loves options. My dream, my fantasy, and all-time favourite artist I would love to collaborate with is and always will be, Christina Aguilera. By listening to her music, she taught me how to sing when I was only five years old. I owe her and her music a lot; it got me through some of the toughest moments of my life, truly letting me know that “I am Beautiful, no matter what they say”.

My second choice is basically a Canadian legend at this point: Shawn Mendes. He is both an incredible vocalist and performer who has exceeded the expectations of so many on and off stage. Between his storytelling, his musical ability, his work ethic, and THAT VOICE; he truly is an inspiration to myself as an artist. I would be honoured if I ever got the chance to collaborate with him.

Finally my third and most realistic collaboration at this point in time would be my friend and fellow Emerging Canadian Recording Artist: Jessia. If you don’t know her she is an incredibly talented singer-songwriter from B.C. who recently just went viral on TikTok with her song “I’m not pretty”. Soon after two more of her videos blew up, she got Elijah Woods (incredibly talented producer) to help write the music and next thing you know she’s being streamed by millions of people, getting played on the radio, and then finally gets spotted by Republic Records via Ryan Tedder. Her story is so inspiring to me, and she’s also just a wonderful human. We had plans to write together, but now she’s a little busy becoming famous haha. I cannot wait for the day we have a duet together, or at LEAST get to write together.

I know I didn’t just choose one, but there are too many talented musicians and artists out there right now. Therefore if I had to choose three right now, these would be them.

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