NZOA newmusic single november 18

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by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: JSH

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: JSH

Among the stand out new artists featured on NZ On Air‘s latest NewTracks compilation is North Shore MC JSH. Signed with Tyree Tautogia and Deach Fa’afou‘s Empire Records, you might have come across the melodic rhymes of his debut single Lemme Just on the radio over the last few weeks. NZM got in touch to learn some more and JSH kindly obliged. If you’ve got a new song you think radio stations across the country might be into, you can submit it for the next NewTracks by February 16.

What’s the background story of how you became a solo MC?

I first started out making music with a crew called notmuch which was fun. There were three of us. I branched off from the group in 2016 creating my solo venture JSH. I get my productions from local producers, friends, networking with people in the industry.

It started from me jamming with my boy Thomas Rose and we’d make heaps of new music all the time. We started doing these mixtapes once a month in 2017 and I got some good looks from local radio stations like George FM and some gig opportunities through We Mouve. Once that stuck, it was inevitable that this JSH thing was becoming a real brand for myself. Now I’m just running it straight with how serious I’m taking it, haha.

So can you tell us what JSH stands for?

My name is Josh Grace, so it’s literally just Josh without the O, haha. I really like the way it looks on paper and reads… JSH. It took me a while to come up with a name for my solo project and this seemed the most appropriate.

What makes Lemme Just stand out for you as a single? 

It was first released on one of my mixtapes I made last year, and it got the most heat in terms of plays and favourites up on Soundcloud and Facebook. Everyone I showed it to just felt it was a really nice song to listen to and it’s got that laid-back R&B, lazy rap vocal feel. It’s definitely one of my favourite songs I’ve ever made, the best is so smooth and the hook way too catchy. 

Is there a story behind Lemme Just?

It’s mainly about the initial attraction between man and woman, trying to be that cool guy in the corner of the club and spotting someone who’s easy on the eye, haha. I write a lot about love and lust, but Lemme Just sits a lot more in the category of lust, and that honeymoon phase of a relationship.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, in the single?

Damn, nice question. I’m big on representing where I’m from and my city. So I love the opening line, “I just got my city on my back, that’s a day one.” I’m always referencing and shouting out to Auckland, and my day ones haha. But in terms of the musical moment, it would have to be the pre-chorus at the end of each verse where I take my vocal up a key. I just think it’s got that nice feel to it, probably where my voice sounds the nicest, smooth toned and all!

Who did you mainly work on that single with? 

My man’s DJ Grumble, out of New York – has some of the tastiest beats out there. I originally just ripped the beat off Soundcloud and wrote Lemme Just to it. Put it out on my mixtape and he said he was “flames”, gave it a re-post. When recording it, I did that with my main man Tom Lee who’s my engineer. Him and Thomas Rose were in the studio at the time and I just went in and laid it out in one take because I’d been singing it every day since I’d written it. I had it on lock – I liked it that much! After the take I could just hear them both laughing in the studio and clapping their hands, speaking back to me in the booth saying, “Bruv, this is a tune, straight up!” That was a good feeling and from then I knew this had to go down as a single, so I hit up DJ Grumble for the stems, and the rest is history.

Describe in one sentence what you want listeners to take away from this song.

I think I just want people to vibe with it, the same way me and the boys did when I recorded it. Turn it up in the car, wind the windows down on a sunny day and just roll with it. There’s certainly messages in there about love and risk-taking but it’s more about the feel of the song than the lyrical messages.

In general, how do you work out what song would make a good single?

The reaction of people when I show them a track, straight up. I can vibe out to a song I’ve written all day long, but it’s not until I see someone’s reaction that I know if it’s fitted to be a single or not.

Any other projects you’ve got on that we should keep an eye out for?

I’m working on my debut album. A couple more singles will be out before that, one later this month, and another next month. Then I’ll drop the album, no date set yet. But it’s sounding nice, it’s all written and recorded, has some dope local producers with their name on it. I’m excited.

Can you please give us three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song.

I’m big on looking out for my boys, so I’d have to say Nothing To Lose by Lee Mvtthews and Hunnid On The Drop by Montell 2099. They’re the homies and are both doing big things so it would always be good to have Lemme Just sit beside them on a playlist. For a third song, I’m big on supporting SWIDT. Their whole album was straight fire, but that All Night track is one of my favourites. The beat goes so hard, and their songwriting is always unique and vibrant.

 

Was there any NZOA criteria you struggled with in the application? How did you work it out in the end?

I haven’t got the biggest following as of yet, only one song on all platforms. But I’m hoping this year’s plans can change that, and I owe a lot to my label Empire Records who put on for ya boy. The following of JSH is probably the hardest criterion to cover, but trust in me, that’ll change.

Any last words?

Shout out to NZ Musician for noticing, and big love to everyone out here in NZ keeping their movement going. Keep an eye out for ya boy JSH over the year and I can’t wait to get this album out to you all. 

Much love.

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