For Josh Gray’s most recent single, he wrote and recorded Painkiller, which was released in February, having already released a number of songs including Wrong Ones and Cut Loose. In 2022, Josh wrote and featured on THEO’s single For You, and he wrote First Love, which appeared on ASTRO’s number one-selling album Drive to the Starry Road. Josh has plans for future releases, and he was previously a member of the Irish boy band HomeTown, who had two number one chart positions in Ireland. Answering our questions recently, Josh spoke to us about his latest single Painkiller, featuring on and writing THEO’s release of For You and some of his favourite memories from his time in HomeTown.
Your most recent single Painkiller was released in February, can you tell us about the song and where did you get the inspiration from for the lyrics?
Painkiller is about my partner. It was a song that quickly poured out on a rainy day when I was taking a break from recording due to heavy rainfall. I picked up the guitar and then there it was! My partner is my biggest fan and always pushes me to be the best person I can be so this is really a song to her that I hope others can relate to.
How long were you working on Painkiller and how did you feel when it was released?
I was working on Painkiller for a couple of weeks, it was actually quite a quick process and I had a lot of fun playing around with this one!
What has it been like seeing the listeners’ response to the single and who do you think it will appeal to?
It’s been crazy, I’m super overwhelmed. So many people have reached out to say how much they’ve enjoyed listening to it. It’s a big thing for me that people are connecting to songs I’ve written and produced. I guess this one is for the lovers!
What do you enjoy most about writing and recording your own music and can you tell us about some of your previous singles, which have included Wrong Ones and Cut Loose?
I just really enjoy expressing myself through music. I like to share experiences I’ve lived with through fun (not always fun) pop tracks. Cut Loose is about breaking out of a toxic relationship, we’ve all been there! Wrong Ones came from the absolute hassle of modern (online) dating. I guess I’m old school when it comes to romance and I hate the idea of selling yourself for people to like you, so in a nutshell the song was born from frustration with that.
What is your songwriting process and has it changed much over time?
It really varies. Sometimes it may be an idea I have while driving, sometimes it’s messing around on guitar or piano and then some melodies come and then there’s other times where I just need to get something off of my chest. I think with becoming a producer and gaining more experience with writers and producers and working with artists, your approach gradually changes for the better as your mind opens up and you get out of your box!
In November, you featured on THEO’s single For You, what was this like?
Yeah, that was dope! As you can tell, its got a super 90’s hip hop/R&B vibe, which is what I grew up on with the likes of JT and Timbaland. I’ve always wanted to be on a feature track like that so it was cool that after writing the track for THEO that she wanted me to be a part of it commercially too!
We understand you worked on a track for ASTRO’s third album Drive to the Starry Road, how did you find the experience?
Super cool and surprising. First Love was born out of a lockdown writing session over Zoom. I guess it just found its right path thanks to some amazing people, and ASTRO smashed it! It’s an incredible feeling to be part of a number one album!
You were a member of the Irish boy band HomeTown, what are some of your favourite memories from being part of the group?
So many, I can’t count! Playing The O2, London and the 3Arena, Dublin are definitely two of my favourites though. Along with having two number ones in Ireland!
Where does your love of music and songwriting come from and how did you start?
Honestly from my parents and my grandmother. They were always super encouraging and supportive. I started singing when I was old enough to talk and once I stumbled across Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson and Maroon 5, I thought to myself, yeah, this is for me.
Have you been given any advice over your career so far that has stuck with you and what advice would you give a new music artist starting in the industry?
It’s all about great songs and being persistent. So many times in doing anything creative or for yourself you’re going to meet slamming doors. As long as you keep the hunger and belief, that’s what makes you a winner. I’ve been working with The Script recently and Danny (O’Donoghue) has really given me some great advice and guidance on this topic.
Do you have any favourite music artists to listen to?
My taste is super broad but I am loving Saint Harrison, The Night Game and Lizzy McAlpine at the moment.
How do you like to spend your time away from music?
I like to play football or spending time with friends and family outdoors. Nature always seems to refresh my head and inspire me, it’s well needed working in music.
Do you have any upcoming music plans that you can tell us about and what are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
I sure do. Let’s just say you’re going to be hearing a lot from me pretty soon…
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