This past year has seen Josh Flowers And The Wild demonstrate their raucous live show by way of iconic independent venues such as London’s Bush Hall, The Borderline and Bristol’s Thekla. Tight, loud and world-weary, the band blends crunching blues with rock and folk influences in an exploration of both the rough and varnished textures therein. Lead singer Flowers admits to being principal songwriter, yet is quick to acknowledge the band’s shared responsibility.
TAKE ME BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.
I’ve found that I have to conceive the seed of an idea on my own. That’s how it always works. So, if I do any co-writing, I’ll always go in with those seeds to then work with. Otherwise none of it feels like it’s started from anywhere real. I think that’s because the essence of a song has to come from somewhere inside… a person. It does for me, at least, and then it makes its way out and becomes formed in some sense– whether that’s one line, or a whole verse-chorus sequence, or one chord progression or whatever… If something starts with that kind of essence, then that there is a pure thing that you can work with.
DOES THE GENESIS OF EVERYTHING ARTISTIC LIE IN A PLACE OF SOLITUDE?
I think so, yes. I’m not against collaboration, of course – I think collaboration is great, but it has to be two people bringing the results of their individual solitude together and creating something new out of that. With what I’m trying to say in my writing… it has to come from that place, inside. I’m currently halfway through Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and that book has really helped me think more about the nature of living with others, and about how a community is made up of individuals each harbouring their own solitude that is separate from their communal life. I’m a very social person, but I’m certainly at my most productive alone. I never used to give myself enough time for that, but now I’m learning that that’s a really important part of my process.
WHAT, TO YOU, DEFINES GOOD SONG WRITING?
The things you’re trying to express in songwriting, or in poetry or prose writing, or in painting, are things common to everybody but expressed so that they feel fresh and accessible in a different way. There are thousands of songs about love, but the greatest ones are those that express it from a new angle, to make you feel something, when you’re listening to that song, as if you’ve never felt it before in your life. It’s not always about saying something new, but about finding a new way to say it. We’re all implicit in the same set of instincts, but we’re putting it through our own filter and we’re making it our own.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS INSPIRE YOUR CREATIVITY?
Reading is really important to me. You have to be alone and uninterrupted, and in that way you can enter into another world – be it a one you have helped create yourself or a world you have been invited into by an author. To be honest, I find language in itself, and just the way people say things, really fascinating. I think that the way people grab onto things in songs is closely linked to the way they relate to each other in conversation. The lyrics in our song No Bad Blood, for instance: I used that term in a conversation with someone in my life, and the moment I said it I knew that it should become something, because it immediately resonated and conjured up a lot of imagery for me.
- WILL STOKES
Josh Flowers and The Wild tour through Nottingham, Bristol, London and Oxford this September. www.joshflowersandthewild.com