Talks Ellen & Portia
Joshua Radin gives us an insiders' look at what it was like playing for Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi and their 2008 wedding.
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SheKnows: You started writing music as a release of feelings and emotions, and Zach (Braff) kind of took it by the reins and started the ball rolling. Were you ready?
Joshua Radin: I certainly wasn't ready. But what do you do when people are like, "we want more songs, we want to put them in TV shows, put them in moviesâ€¦commercials." You are like, "okay, I'll write more songs. I'm broke." I probably could have used some more time. I mean, most people have their whole life to write their first record.
SheKnows: And this was more like a side-project for you.
Joshua Radin: I didn't know anything about the music industry or writing music or playing an instrument. I had nothing to start with. I just sort of dove in and am learning as I goâ€¦I even got an electric guitar three weeks ago. I never even played an electric guitar and now I'm doing half the set on the electric. It's awesome. It's so much fun. And people are like, "whoa, you are the guy that sits there with an acoustic guitar and whispers into the microphone." And yeah, that's what I did last year, but I don't know. I'm still looking for my sound.
SheKnows: Now, I want to straighten something out, because I heard that you produced Simple Times with Rob Schnapf (Elliot Smith, Beck). And then I read somewhere that Rick Rubin (Columbia Records) co-produced the album as well. Is that true?
Joshua Radin: No, just Rob. Rick was co-chair of Columbia and they were my old label. Okay, this is what happened, I turned in the record that I made with Rob and everyone at the label including Rick was like, "yeah, we love it, but we are not hearing a huge radio hit." I knew that, but a huge radio hit? That's not what I do. I'm not looking to be John Mayer. These are the songs I wrote. This is where I'm at right now. It's a moment in time. That's what a record is to me.SheKnows: I bet they weren't too stoked on that reaction.Joshua Radin: Nope. They said that they would release the record if I went in with Rick and made a big hit. I told them no. I love the record that Rob and I made and I didn't want to go in with another producer, even if it is Rick Rubin. I admire so many records that he has done, but I made this record and this is what I wanted to put out. I was happy to work with Rick on something else, but not this. They said, "sorry, we still want a big hit." So I gave them all their money back and I put (Simple Times) out on an indie label called Mom and Pop.SheKnows: And you are their first artist?Joshua Radin: Yup. It was a little vindication, for sure. When the album went to number one on iTunes, I think everyone at Columbia was like, "whoops" because I got all these calls from my manager being like, "I think they realized that maybe they made a mistake." I think a major label is like a bad girlfriend. They meet you and think, wow, he's got so much potential, I can change him into this. And they lie and they lie and they lie, saying, "you're perfect, you're great" and then it starts to rear its ugly head and say, "what about ifâ€¦you sang a song that John Legend wrote." What?â€¦what are you even talking about.SheKnows: Well, props to you. You are really staying true to who you are and what you have a passion for.Joshua Radin: I think people really respond to that. I think if you write what you know and you are honest about it — like journal entries — I think people relate to it.SheKnows: It's so much more accessible to your audience that way.
Joshua Radin: That's the thing, I was writing comedy screenplays for like six years before this and I was making up things, it was all my imagination and none of it was true. So when I started writing songs, the first song I wrote was so personal — and people responded to it — I decided that I wasn't going to write anything untrue.
About a girl
SheKnows: It's working so far. Okay, to shift gears a bit, is the song Vegetable Car from the recent release Simple Times about a girl that got away?Joshua Radin: Well, sort of. We've actually never met. I admired her from afar. She would drive down my street all the time and I never had the courage to talk to her. It was my fantasy I guess. I thought if I wrote a pop-y tune about her, maybe she'd drive by one day and it would be playing on the radio and it would be my in. I could say, "I wrote that and it's about you."SheKnows: But not so much, huh?Joshua Radin: Nah, not so much. And I'm in New York now, so I think I lost my chance.SheKnows: If it's not the girl with the Vegetable Car, thenâ€¦who? I know that all those female fans are probably dying to know; is there someone special in your life right now?Joshua Radin: (smiles) No.SheKnows: So, you are touring through the end of March and then are you going back to New York to relax a bit?Joshua Radin: You bet. We picked up Zack and his girlfriend in LA the other night and took them up to San Francisco. They had never been on a tour bus before. We all got drunk and partied on the busâ€¦we had them with us for 24 hours and then dropped them off. I talked to him today and he was like, "man, how do you do that every dayâ€¦it was like, one of the best 24 hours I've ever hadâ€¦I was on the bus, I got to learn all the tour lingo and totally partiedâ€¦but really, how do you do that every day?"
SheKnows: Random I know, but if there were a question that a reporter hasn't asked you, but you wish they had, like what color socks are you wearing?
Joshua Radin: Black. Always black.SheKnows: â€¦Or, boxers or briefs?Joshua Radin: Boxer briefs. Black.SheKnows: Okay. Since we are speaking about intimates and personal style, tell me about this t-shirt design contest you ran for your fans?Joshua Radin: Yeah, totally. The t-shirts that we are selling on this tour were designed by a fanâ€¦I thought it would be cool to get different ideas and include our fans. The one we picked is me at the Hollywood Bowl shooting my first video. I love the Hollywood Bowl so much; I would die to play there, so I feel like every time I see it, it is like a goal.
Joshua Radin Spring Tour 2009