Joshua Radin brings musical diary to Aspen
July 18, 2012
ASPEN – For the past eight years, Joshua Radin’s songs have been featured on numerous TV shows and films. “Scrubs,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Brothers and Sisters” and “One Tree Hill” are just a few of the productions that have carried the songwriter’s music to a wide audience in the U.S. and abroad.
Despite that fact, it’s not accurate to say that the Ohio-born Radin, 38, writes songs for Hollywood or tailors his music for a scene within a script.
“I don’t really do TV-show work,” he said. “I just write my songs, and if people want to use them in TV shows or films, they ask me if they can use it. It gives me more exposure. It’s just another way of getting my songs out there.”
Radin and his band will be performing Wednesday at Belly Up Aspen. His current tour partly coincides with the upcoming release of his fourth album, “Underwater,” which will be made available beginning July 31 through Mom and Pop Records in the U.S.
He describes his style as mellow and introspective. Though he’ll roll into Aspen with five other band members, don’t go to his live show expecting a rock concert – that’s not his style.
“The songs I write are personal accounts of my life,” he said. “They’re really like diary entries set to music. And I kind of write songs to people, kind of like letters. I have a tough time telling people what I’m thinking or what I’m feeling, and so I do it through music. Or I’ll be inspired to write a song, and as I’m writing it, I’ll realize that even though it’s about someone else, it’s really about me.”
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In 2006, Radin released his first album, “We Were Here,” to critical acclaim. He says much of it was inspired by a bad breakup.
With “Underwater,” the title track to the new CD, he had a different source of inspiration. When he was 5 years old, doctors told him there was a hole in his right eardrum and that swimming or sticking his head underwater would be extremely painful.
“As a kid, I developed this fear of the water,” Radin said. “Just last year, I went back to the doctor, and he said the hole in my eardrum had sort of naturally healed after all these years. And he said if I wanted to try going underwater, I could do it.
“So I flew to Hawaii with some friends and went snorkeling. I had been sort of searching for something to write about, something to inspire a new album. I had been off the road for a few months and not writing anything.
“It was incredibly silent. I had never heard silence like that before. All of a sudden this melody line and these string parts came into my mind. I started hearing this underwater symphony, cellos and violas and violins. I decided I wanted to write a song about going underwater and use it as a metaphor for facing your fears.”
Radin didn’t initially set out on a music career. He’s a painter, actually, and backed into the music business after writing film scripts that never achieved fruition.
“I didn’t start doing music until about eight years ago,” he said. “It’s a later-in-life thing for me. I never had a night where I woke up the next day and I was famous or anything like that.
“I try to make it like a grassroots, organic, slow build. I really do believe that the longer it takes to build things up, the longer it takes to tear them down. I sold a couple of feature scripts, but neither of them made it to the screen. I was frustrated, and so I picked up the guitar. I learned a few Dylan songs to calm my mind.
“What I’m doing, … it’s like walking a tightrope without a net.”
Though the bulk of his past recordings may have a melancholy vibe, Radin says his recent material is a bit different. He still believes good art comes through pain, but his newer compositions draw upon other sources of inspiration.
“I’m not going to lie. Most of my music is inspired by falling into and out of love,” he said. “It’s what moves me, I guess; what makes me think. But I think my music has been a little more upbeat since my last relationship. A lot of it is positive and life-affirming.”