We sat down with Josh Kroehn to unpack his stunning debut album State of Devotion.
An acoustic/alt-rock fusion that boasts raw, unadulterated emotion and passion, this album will leave you utterly breathtaken. Fresh off the release, we caught up with the artist to chat about the record and his music.
HAPPY: Hey Josh, thanks for your time! What do you find yourself doing right this moment?
JOSH: No problem at all, thank you for having me! I’m currently on break at work where I teach guitar students.
HAPPY: A huge congratulations on the release of your debut album! Was this a product of isolation?
JOSH: Thank you! No, it wasn’t, all of these songs were written prior to 2020 before all of the madness began. It was only the recording process that was setback due to COVID.
HAPPY: Can you tell us about the creative process and the meaning behind State of Devotion?
JOSH: State of Devotion came about through years of me writing songs as a form of catharsis. We all have had bad stuff happen to us and I found that making music was the best way for me to let go of pent-up emotions. The past decade, in particular, has been a tough one personally and this album details all of that. I’ve always enjoyed full records that have an intentional flow and story to tell, and I feel I have accomplished this both compositionally and lyrically with this album.
HAPPY: This is an incredibly emotive album – was there a track that was particularly hard to write?
JOSH: Yeah, for sure, there were several tracks really. I’d say Welcome Bare and As Clear as Day were particularly tough, as they detail the pain and loss of people I care about.
HAPPY: What would you hope is the biggest takeaway from this album, for the listener?
JOSH: This is a difficult question. This album was very much written for myself, first and foremost, as a way of dealing with everything that is mentioned. However, I think what people could potentially take away from the album is to not be afraid to be yourself. For a long time, I thought the more introspective elements to my personality were a flaw, but I’ve learned to embrace them and not alter my personality to suit others. Being something I’m not, really took its toll on my happiness.
HAPPY: What artists do you most admire for their vocal talent specifically?
JOSH: The man who made me decide to start singing was Dallas Green of City and Colour. I don’t think I have heard a more angelic voice, along with his pure precision and effortless control. Mark Hollis and Jeff Buckley were both phenomenal vocalists with their dynamic range and, more recently, I have grown a great admiration for both Ben Howard and Julien Baker for their emotive singing styles.
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HAPPY: Have you been to any sit-down gigs this year, what were your experience?
JOSH: My one and only gig for the year (both as an audience member and performer) was last week at the Wheaty here in Adelaide, which is one of my favourite local venues. It was a sit-down gig and that’s the way I like it when it comes to music. I sit down myself when I play live and I feel it suits my music for the audience to sit and absorb, so I definitely enjoy sit down gigs.
HAPPY: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
JOSH: That’s a bit of a dangerous question really, there are numerous things I could mention. Globally, I feel that streaming has taken the value away from an artists’ product, especially now that there is the ability for anyone to upload music that they make in their bedroom to all of the streaming services and stores via a distributor. It really has saturated the market and changed the common listening habits of people. There are less albums being made and more singles, which is to keep up with the relentless demand for something new. I’m a bit old school in that I like to invest in an artist’s story through a whole album experience. I rarely listen to playlists and mostly jump from record to record.
HAPPY: What’s to come for Josh Kroehn?
JOSH: I’m currently working on a more acoustic record and I’ll be moving away, somewhat, from the darker subject matter. I’ve never felt better in my life than I do at the moment, which if you listen to State of Devotion might be hard to believe. However, all of the experiences and feelings detailed on the album are in the past now and I’m ready to move forward having come out the other side a better person.
HAPPY: Cheers Josh!
JOSH: Thank you guys, and all the best with the rest of this crazy year. Happy holidays!