Monday, August 24, 2015

An Interview with ThatOneEyedKid

>> Making the best out of any situation is an impressive talent, and it seems to be something musician Josh Friedman has mastered over the years. Having fought and survived cancer, Josh is pursuing a career doing what he loves under the name ThatOneEyedKid. He's gained a following through sharing excellent piano covers online and playing in bands along the way, and now ThatOneEyedKid is gearing up to release a new EP, titled Always, that's bound to be full of his signature soulful synth-pop goodness. Read more about his interesting video ideas, musical inspirations, and a possible talent for making root beer below.
>> Note: ThatOneEyedKid is currently represented by The Catalyst Publicity Group.

Please introduce yourself with one interesting thing you would like people to know about you.
My name is Josh Friedman, I’m a Boston based musician and singer-songwriter. The eye patches that I wear are hand-made by a man in Japan named Yuuichi Shibuya, he’s also made me ones with rhinestones for when I’m feeling frisky.

How long have you been making music? Have you always gone by ThatOneEyedKid?
I’ve been playing the piano since I was six and I’ve writing music since I was twelve. ThatOneEyedKid came from AIM, I’m pretty sure… I was 14 and really wanted a clever screen name. I think I tried “TheMatrix23” and something with a piano in it but “ThatOneEyedKid” was, thankfully, what I went with. I’ve always kept that as my name online so when I started playing shows it felt natural to use ThatOneEyedKid.

What inspired you to start doing cover videos? Did the online reaction influence your desire to create original music or were you always interested in writing your own songs?
I think probably like a lot of artists when I first started playing I was trying to find all the ways that I’d be allowed to play music in front of an audience. Part of me also likes making things immediately accessible to an audience, so picking a top 40 pop song to cover on YouTube felt like a great way to do that. In addition to the performer side of me, there’s the writer part of me that just wants to sit in a room by myself and make shit. From classical piano compositions to playing in indie-rock bands the goal on the original-music side is just to make something unique and high-quality, so not necessarily “pop-song-mashup” accessible. The online reaction to the covers has made me feel like “Awesome, I love that I do something that people can get into, I love connecting to people through music.” With my original music I’m definitely casting a smaller net than “Check out this Taylor Swift piano-cover!”, but I love having this outlet, a more personal way of connecting to people through my music.

Do you have a favorite song to cover? If so, which song and what does it mean to you personally?
It really changes… I think my favorite songs to cover are ones I put my own spin on and don’t end up sounding worse than the original haha. There’s one I do of “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” where I change the chords and the feel (it’s like if Death Cab wrote an R&B ballad) that stands out to me. I love the lyrics, it’s so simple and the imagery is so clear but it’s also a totally unique, morbid way of telling someone you love them… I love that.

How was your experience transitioning from a viral YouTube cover artist to a musician with original work? Did a lot of your viewers immediately become fans of the new tunes as well?
That’s a great question. There’s not really any transition happening for me internally… covers and originals have been a part of my musical identity since I first started playing and writing. But publicly it’s definitely a shift. Until now there hasn’t been a whole of my original songs that I’ve felt excited about, but now I have these songs I’ve worked really hard on that I’m just super pumped about sharing with everyone.
I’m really grateful for my viewers. I’ve made non-cover content like vlogs and improvised songs that, at the very worst, they’ll just ignore it. But there’s no “Hey! What’s with this dumb original stuff? More coldplay covers plz!.” And at the best, they’ll take a chance on the originals they’re almost entirely really encouraging and supportive. Honestly most of what I’ve put out has been met with positivity, if my viewers start saying all my new content is garbage then I’ll re-evaluate haha. But that’s totally not the case so far… the audience I’ve found online have been super warm and open.

What was it like to transition from being one guy beautifully playing the piano in videos to having a live band?
Again not much of a transition for me, probably the same week I was putting piano covers up I was out playing with a band that weekend. I will say working on something collaboratively like playing in a band or an ensemble is so important for working independently. I like to work in solitary, too, but I attribute all the best things I do creatively to something I picked up from a collaboration. I’m really fortunate to perform and write with people who are just unbelievably more talented than me. It’s like running with Kenyans, it just makes me so much better.

In your Hang Around” video, viewers get to watch you strip while running down a long road. What was that filming experience like? Does the running and getting naked represent a specific feeling or message?
Haha oh Hang Around, good times. Filming was 90% adrenaline-fueled awesomeness and 10% “shit I might get arrested. in Baltimore. Shit.” Honestly the whole idea for the video came from me just talking with Greg Bowen (the director). We’re good friends from St. Louis and I told him I thought it’d be so funny if I did a music video where I was just running naked for no reason, and he said, “Yes. Let’s do it.” So there’s not really any other message we wanted to get across, other than “Hey look how funny it is Josh is naked, like really naked, singing along to this song.”

Your new single “Always” is quite fantastic. Since this is the title track for your upcoming EP, is there something extra special about this song for you? What went into writing and recording this one?
Ah awesome! So glad you like it!! I wanted it to be the title-track because I honestly feel like it’s the best of the five. I LOVE the 5, but Always definitely has something special going on. If I knew what it was I would tell you, but I honestly don’t know. I know it’s my dad’s favorite song and it’s the one that, when we play it live, everyone seems to get into the most.
I think the first thing I wrote in Always was that opening riff. At the time I was going through a breakup and my parents were separating so a song about enduring love just kinda came out haha. The story is definitely a testament to what was going on in my life back then. We recorded it with my band last May and tweaked it and tweaked it and then one day it was done! Still can’t believe it.

Can fans expect to hear similar themes on the rest of the EP?
Yes. 4/5 songs are about a lot of the themes in the song “Always.” It’s a lot of “What does it mean to love someone? What does it mean to love yourself?” That kind of emo shit. Haha just kidding, they’re not that melodramatic. But themes of love, loyalty, uncertainty, those show up a lot on this EP.

Was there anything particularly interesting that happened during your writing process for the EP? What are you hoping listeners will get from this release and what did you get out of putting it together?
Honestly I just hope listeners like it. I hope they get something from what I’ve experienced and put into these songs, that’s all. Putting it together just showed me how hard you have to work at anything to make something good. If you want to make a good song you have to work your ass off. Hopefully my ass-working-off made some cool songs .-)

You recently announced a string of shows coming up in September. What are you most looking forward to with these shows? Any surprises in store for attendees?
I’m just looking forward to playing these songs live again with my friends. I may or may not have made my own root-beer they we’ll be selling at the merch table. I don’t know if there’s anything more surprising than that haha.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
That’s all… thanks for writing such great questions and listening to the songs!

- Kate Russell

Get Connected:
ThatOneEyedKid on YouTube


No comments: