The Josh Ramsay Show includes an all-star list of collaborators and showcases Ramsay’s astonishing musical versatility. The album’s first single, “Lady Mine,” is a blistering hard rock track that features Nickelback’s, Chad Kroeger. Ramsay also ventures into modern country on “Best Of Me” (featuring Dallas Smith), ‘80s funk on “Beat The Devil” (featuring Serena Ryder), and dreamy, anthemic pop on “Can’t Give It Up” (featuring Tyler Shaw).
“I really wanted to write something upbeat, fun, and irreverent, so I just hope it’s an uplifting listen for people,” he says. “I don’t think anyone needs to hear a sad-sack album right now. Losing your parents is a tough thing – something everyone will go through – but I’m in a positive place. So, even songs about that, I wanted them to be uplifting. I didn’t want it to feel like grief. I wanted it to feel like love.”
Writing The Josh Ramsay Show was an opportunity for Ramsay to step outside of his comfort zone and dig deep, reflecting on his experiences of love and loss, and the confusion that can arise when the two coincide. Over the past two years, he’s experienced the pain of losing both his parents, along with the jubilation of getting married. All of those emotions come out in the songs “Miles And Miles” (featuring Ramsay’s sister Sara), “Spellbound” and “Like You Do”.
As with every project he takes on, Ramsay wanted to push his personal limitations and challenge himself as a songwriter, singer, player, and producer. In a true solo effort, Ramsay wrote, produced, and played all the instruments on the new album, with the exception of orchestral parts. Ramsay’s hands-on, experimental approach has always been a defining characteristic of his output as with Marianas Trench, and in his role as producer and songwriter for artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, whose worldwide hit, ‘Call Me Maybe’ garnered Ramsay a Grammy nomination and a SOCAN Award for Most Performed Song in SOCAN history.
These last couple of years have afforded many the time to illustrate their thoughts and emotions through various creative avenues. Using the facet of music, what have you come to learn about yourself on an individual and artistic level?
Josh Ramsay (JR): “If you believe in what you’re doing, there’s no such thing as ‘too much work.’ Doing this all by myself was an immense amount of work, but I never regretted any of it.”
Your debut album, The Josh Ramsay Show, was just released today. What made now the right time for you to release this solo record? How does this record set itself apart from Marianas Trench?
JR: “I always wanted to do a solo project and play everything myself. The pandemic was just the perfect time to finally do it. But it’s not a Marianas record – the songwriting choices are totally different.”
Given that the record highlights your musical versatility, how did you ensure that it is still a cohesive body of work, where every song flows into one another despite the array of genres that are covered?
JR: “In two ways: musically speaking, there are three pieces of orchestral music that divide the album into sections. They feel like film scores. Once we get to the final song on the album, it’s revealed that the orchestral stuff has been alluding to the ending – a symphony composed for my dad. It doesn’t seem weird when we get to it, it seems logical. The other is that, for better or worse, my voice is my voice. I think that still anchors the record with a consistent sound upfront.”
Was there a particular genre you felt most comfortable with, and on the flip side, one that was more of a challenge experimenting with?
JR: “The pop stuff comes more naturally to me, and the rock stuff took me back to the music I made in my teens. Big band swing was something I hadn’t tried writing before, same with EDM. But a really fun challenge.”
Throughout the record, there are a handful of tracks centered around composition. What inspired you to have these cinematic-like pieces on the record?
JR: “I think they serve as act breaks on the album. They also transition the mood. And as I said earlier, they make the ending make sense when you get there. At first, you think, ‘Oh ok, it’s on more of these,’ but then my voice finally comes in.”
On the record, you collaborate with a variety of artists. How did you decide on which artists to feature? How do you find each artist complements their respective collaboration?
JR: “For the most part, I wrote each song for that specific artist. Everybody really brought something to their songs. Hearing different interpretations from all of these amazing singers was such an amazing thing to experience for me. A true honor to work with so many great people.”
Having worked with so many fixtures of the Canadian music industry on this album, how do you find it’s brought a greater sense of integrity to the songs heard on the record? What more have you come to appreciate about the talent within the Canadian music scene?
JR: “I think when playing around in different styles so much, each artist definitely brought a sense of validity to each track. Something that would have been very difficult on my own. Canada is truly rich with talent, now more than ever. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry.”
You recently announced a tour in support of the record. Given the number of duets on the album, how will this translate to your live shows? What are you looking forward to most about being on the road after some time away?
JR: “I’ve put together a band that has a few other lead singers as well, to help share the load. I will also be having surprise guests at shows! After so long away, I’m just really looking forward to seeing everyone out there again. Finally!”
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