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SPOTLIGHT ON JOSHUA EPITHET

Casey Got The Call is out now!

Image: Eric Aydin-Baberini.


Manchester-based artist and producer joshua epithet recently shared his sombre new single, Casey Got The Call. We caught up with the musician to chat about the release and more!


Continuing his genre-defying sonic exploration, the hip-hop ballad shows a more intimate and pared back side to the musician, built upon soft melodies and minimal production. The song presents the idea that in modern times, a phone call bares bad news, representing the inevitable and feeling helpless. The songs video serves as a continuation to the visual for You Genuinely Concern Me, where we follow the musician through a desolate forest.




Could you tell us a bit about your musical background and what led you to pursing music?


I think I just got bored too often as a kid and I was like, 'oh, I'd love to make beats' and just mess around with it. Like silly lofi ones. I thought it was really cool where I could make silly little ambience ones and just like, 'oh, I'll move these drums in here. Or I'll put like this vocal in here', but I didn't start actually recording music until I was like sixteen, because my voice hadn't broken. So I was like, [laughs] I was waiting for the day my voice was gonna break and I was gonna be like, 'okay, okay. I can do it now and I can actually sound right'. But then that took ages. So it was weird. It was like, I was like a good producer and like really bad at writing and vocals. So it's like my producing has always kind of been one step ahead. But it was just kind of, I don't know. It was just for fun. I like doing projects now, like I like building a little world and kind of being like, 'oh wow. This means this but nobody knows that. I don't know, I just think it's cool.




Your latest single Casey Got The Call is so achingly beautiful, and explores this idea that in modern times a phone call represents bad news. What prompted that thematic exploration for this song?


I think one of my friends was like, I think they were worried about something and they were worried they had annoyed someone and they hadn't spoken to this person in a few days and then they're like, 'oh shit, they're calling me. They're calling me'. And I was like, 'oh, that's weird that they'd attach someone ringing them on the phone to be like a bad thing'. Like a serious enough conversation that it has to be like a [phone call]. I think. And it's like with Corona and stuff, it's like people would call about job interviews and stuff like that. It's like either that or an email, but I think a call's more like you care enough to call, but it's rarely good news. I don't think people call a lot to deliver over-joyous news. Because you can just send that in a text I feel. But like that ringing is just, like the 'duh-duh-duh', I think it just scares me. It's kind of like, it's in horror films and stuff. Like the phone's hanging off and it's still ringing whilst they're getting killed or something like that. That's just kind of the connotations for me.




Yeah I totally get what you mean and that connection. The song is accompanied by quite a striking and great visual. Am I correct in thinking it's a continuation of You Genuinely Concern Me?


Yeah it is, it definitely is. All the videos are kind of continuation of each other, It's just that the first one, is kind of detached at the moment because I wasn't wearing the same outfit. But I think I'm gonna do one in between those but we'll see. This one, it was kind of like we wanted to be a direct communication because it's like, there's a song between it on the album, between these two songs, but that's kind of like the bad news brewing. So we were like, 'oh, this makes sense. Like if I start from where I left off from this last one and I'm the same character'. Because like in You Genuinely Concern Me, it's like I'm preparing to get fired. I'm like all like kind of up and my suit's kind of still in shape and stuff like that, but like I'm angry about it. And then the Casey's like the sadness, like the depression's. You know, at first where it's just like anger and denial and then it's like, you know, it's like acceptance. It's like, 'oh shit, I'm a bit done for. So yeah, you're exactly right.




Yeah, I love it. And so how important are the visuals to you when it comes building the visual identity for your music and representing the themes present?


So important, because I think that's like where like all great things stem from right? I feel like for every song to truly be great, it needs a great music video, you know? Like Yonkers by Tyler, The Creator. It's not a great song. It's a good song, but the music video's so good that it enhances the song. I just think that you need that kind of, I think we're over stimulated with media and stuff that, so the video has to be like topnotch to go along with that. I used to think it was fun for like B-sides and albums to listen to and be like, 'oh you could do this for the music video and you could do that'. So that was like another thing to get excited for when I was starting to do music, I was like, 'oh I can do music videos one day and I can die at the end and it'd be funny'. So it's like really important for me. I think colour grading is really important as well. All like the old like Kevin Abstract videos were so like bright and the saturation and the contrast there was so like summery, and I think it would just like attach that to me. But I really wanna do more like black and white videos on film. I wanna move to like film cameras as opposed to digital cameras in the future. I think that would be more fun.




Is there a particular line, lyric or musical motif from Casey Got The Call that you find will get stuck in your head more often than not, or maybe one you’re most proud of?


Well cacophony was like my word of the week, the week I made this song. I think it was in some film and there was this character that was shouting and then someone called it like an Irish cacophony. And I was like, I imagine someone like shouting in someone's ear and it's like, 'ah'. And a cacophony being depressive to me was like a really interesting idea where it's like, it's a lot happening at once, yet it's like sad. It's like almost like crushing. I thought that was quite interesting. But yeah, "Drowning in this melancholy cacophony", I think that's a cool line.




Such a great line, and I love the word of the day! You’ve shared three singles so far, and they all lean into different sonic realms. How did you arrive at this genre-melding sound you’re creating within your music?


I don't wanna like, yeah, I don't have one. I like alternative. I think that's a cool little thing to put on it because then it doesn't really, it could be like alternative hip-hop. It could be alternative indie or whatever, you know? I think I try and bring all the elements in. Like I don't really like live sound drums. I don't really like drum kits. I like 808's and stuff, that's cool to me personally. But then it's like, I don't like indie guitars a lot of the time. I'm more of a bass guy. So yeah, it's just like whatever sounds right sounds right. And I think melody and stuff, that's completely from my head. It's not like, 'oh, I should sing this how I think Childish Gambino would sing this' or 'I should sing this how fucking Bono would sing this'. When I really like a song, it kind of like flows out with me. Especially like these three, it really did where I feel like I wasn't doing work. I was just kind of like, 'yeah, yeah'. Because it's just like a hobby right. And it's just a hobby that you can make money from at the end of the day or is important to you. So these songs I care a lot about, very much deeply. So I kind of like just wanna make them as out there as possible.




So would you say that when you are writing each song kind of takes on its own form, in terms of your process of writing? Or do you kind of have a kind of set process you try and stick to?


That's a good question. I usually do it like bit [by bit]. I'll start at the start and I'll finish at the end. But then maybe I'll be like, 'oh, it could sound good if this part's repeated here' or whatever. And then I'll mess with it there, but usually I kind of like lay out the structure as it goes, but it's usually like I focus on the start and then I'll go along. It's like about the journey, cuz then it's like, it's a momentum thing. Whereas if I come up with like a cool middle part, I think I stress myself out. Cause I'm like, 'uh, like, uh, I'm trying to make things work around this hh, uh'. So that's difficult for me. It's like when you're doing an exam and it's like, 'okay, that one done that one done'. It's like you're like slashing through like a jungle. So I was like doing that basically through each song and I was like, 'bah, don, don, don, bridge, don'




Yeah, no, I love that. It's been a while since I've done an exam. So that took me back.


I haven't done an exam in like three years, so even for me -




Oh no, it's even longer for me [laughs].


[Laughs] I mean like a driving exam is an exam. In Australia do they do theory tests?




Oh true, that's something that's more recent. The first one's a theory test, the second one's a driving test and the third one I think is just a theory test.


Oh, okay. That's amazing.




What do you have in store the rest of the year? You mentioned an album earlier, are you gonna be hitting the road on tour? Maybe come to Australia?


I wanna go to Australia so bad, but the spiders are scary. All the insects and stuff. Like also I did not know that Australia was that big.




Yeah?


Yeah. It's like like half the size of America right? Or something like that? And like America's massive. I thought Australia was like kind of like England crushed into like one, but it's not. There's that big area, the Outback - I dunno why I'm explaining this to you, but I'm like explaining to myself. The Outback is like uninhabitable, so no one can live there right?




Yeah, It's mostly around the coastline you'll find towns and cities and there is more inland but nothing too deep into the outback.


Maybe when I see it, I'll be able to understand, but I just don't. It sounds like a weird place. I don't understand it, but [laughs] I think it's just like a really pretty place, but like I don't know what the climate would do to me. Like all that heat and like all the insects and stuff. It's such an interesting place. I do wanna go, that would be cool to do a show. I haven't done a show yet and I'm preparing for that's really exciting because it's like, 'oh, I can do this outfit I can perform', but like it's completely unknown territory, but I really wanna release the album whenever I can. It just depends when's the right time because I put so much work into it and then it'd be really like bad if I was just like, 'oh, here is tomorrow'. And like I didn't build up to it. So yeah. I'm just waiting for the right time.



GET TO KNOW JOSHUA EPITHET


Biggest musical influences?

Childish Gambino is number one. I love him. He like brought in this world building aspect of it to me, where the album's like an experience as opposed to just like,' oh, I listen to it and I'm done'. I feel like it's interesting to be like how each song is like telling story and that, you know, an album is like brings up a certain like colour or experience in your head. That's cool to me. So yeah, in that aspect, definitely him. But I don't know. I think with like different sounds, I kind of just take a bit from each artist I listen to and I'm like, 'okay, throw that in there, throw that in there'. But it's mostly American music, like internet music I'd describe it as.



Dream collaboration?

If we're talking anyone, it would be Childish Gambino. But I think I would really, like if you ask me like right now, maybe Kevin Abstract. That'd be cool. I think that that would be really fun. Probably one will come to me later and I'll be like, 'shit, why didn't I say that one?'. But yeah, I like features on songs where it's like, you make a song and then you go, 'oh, this person would sound great on here' as opposed to making a song, just to fit someone on here, you know, like to force it. I think it should come naturally to your brain and it works that way. Like that's how I've done it before.



Album that has had the most impact on you?

I keep answering [Childish Gambino]. Wait, I'll say my second, because I'll say another Childish Gambino one, but I really like Because The Internet by Childish Gambino. That's probably the top one. But a specific album where I was kind of like, it's not an album, but Chloe Burbank Vol. 1 by Joji. It was like a mix tape thing. I think that was definitely one where it was, I was kind of like, 'oh, this is simple. I could do this'. And then I realised that I couldn't, but I could if I kept trying. So it inspired me probably like at a point where I was able to do something about it, if that makes sense. So I was like 14 and I was like, 'oh, I can actually do this'. You know? So yeah, that's a good choice I think.



If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?

That's such a good question. That's an amazing question [laughs]. I'm gonna think, because immediately my mind will go to Trainspotting. But the Trainspotting Soundtrack's so good I don't wanna mess with it. I'm trying to think of a soundtracks for a film that I didn't like, where I'm like, 'oh, that could have been better'. We Need To Talk About Kevin, that I could make something weird for that. I like like psychological films where it's like something's brewing. I don't know, that's fun to me. But thank you for that question, that's amazing question.



Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?

It's funny. I didn't really watch Hannah Montana when I was a kid. My girlfriend showed me it more. The Hannah Montana movie is great. So I'd probably have to pick Hannah. I love Miley Cyrus, but I think Hannah Montana. Like that was the first TV show of its kind where it was like a young kid becomes famous. And I think my favourite show as a kid was iCarly, so I think they got the idea kind of from Hannah Montana. I love that all the songs are really good. Best Of Both Worlds is amazing. Nobody's Perfect, that one's amazing.



What was the first song you loved to sing?

It was either Ms. Jackson by OutKast or Ben by Michael Jackson. Because before I hit puberty, my voice, I could match Michael Jackson's tone. I swear, I have no way proving it, but I could nail that song down and I loved it. That was like my party trick, my dad would get me to sing Ben by Michael Jackson and they'd love it. But yeah, Ms. Jackson by OutKast was definitely one that was in the car a lot. I'll give you one more because I feel like I wouldn't be doing justice if I didn't mention like an, indie one. So Chelsea Dagger [The Fratellis].



Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?

Oh, Spice Girl.



What would your Spice nickname be?

Can I just be like Spice Head? Cause I think that's funny



An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?

Kanye West. I had an argument, my mom, where [laughs] we were talking about who's more influential: Kanye West or The Beatles. I didn't really listen to the Beatles until my girlfriend showed me Help!, I didn't know they made films. I didn't know them like that. Let It Be and Hey Jude are probably the only Beatles song I had heard until last year. So this generation it's Kanye West. I think he's really like paved a way, and I don't agree with everything he does, but I just think like as a producer who does their music and like self-produces I admire that.



What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?

God, that's a good. If you're famous, don't become like Brandon Urie. That would be good.



The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?

[Laughs] I think when I saw Michael Jackson for the first time and there were people like fainting in the crowd because they saw him. I'm not a narcissist, I don't want people to do that for me, but I was so like, I respected it so much that his presence and his art, and he like didn't flinch for a second. He was just like, 'yeah, you know, they're fainting, whatever'. And he was performing and he kind of gave his life to that art right? He didn't really have a life outside of it. So I was like, 'wow, that's like so cool'. So I think little kid Josh was kind of like, I'm always like fascinated by enigmas. I used to like wrestling a lot when I was a kid, and I think like all the characters and the storylines are super cool where I was like, 'oh wow, this guy is like a dead person, but he comes back to life to wrestle people'. It was an era of mystery around people, which is sad because we don't really have it that much anymore. Because I feel like the internet, I feel like to be an artist now you have to tell people about you, like your personality, but at a heavier level than it used to be


Casey Got The Call is out now!