Harmony of Heritage and Hustle: Singer Josh X’s musical journey combines Haitian roots and New York vibes
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- Published on December 6, 2023
- Last Updated December 15, 2023
- In Interview
The Haitian-American artist talks with DETOUR about his newest single and how his music incorporates his love of Haiti and New York.
If music is a universal language, who are the artists that speak most powerfully to our heart and soul? Whose music offers the perfect soundtrack to adventures we’ve experienced and those that await us? In DETOUR’s TuneDn, we connect with artists – from seasoned vets to up-and-coming talents – about where their work has taken them and where they’re headed, both literally and musically.
This time around, we’re chatting with R&B singer, songwriter and producer Josh X about his travel must-haves, how his Haitian heritage influences his art, and the meaningful story behind his Billboard-charting hit, “Love Takes Me Higher.”
Where are you from and how does your background inspire your music?
My background as a Haitian born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, New York, adds a unique and diverse dimension to my cultural identity. Being born Brooklyn, known for its cultural diversity, and growing up in Queens, provides a rich backdrop for my experiences and perspectives. I have a strong connection to my Haitian heritage, despite being in a different country. Haitian/Kompa music has a strong influence on my sound, melodically. Kompa, a popular genre of music originating from Haiti, is characterized by its infectious rhythms and melodies. Growing up in New York, a city known for its vibrant arts scene and diverse musical influences, exposed me to a plethora of genres and styles.
Can you explain why music is important to travel?
Music sets the tone; it’s like theme music. The power and influence of music shapes and defines various aspects of one’s travel experiences. Theme music is often associated with your memories. Many times, people may associate specific songs with vacation destinations. Like, if you hear reggae you may be influenced to book a trip to the Caribbean.
Do you feel music is a key factor in a person’s destination choice when planning?
Yes, music definitely can influence your decision to travel to a certain destination. Music even lets people enjoy places they’ve already traveled to. Certain songs will remind you of certain places.
What places have you traveled so far, and where was your favorite destination?
I’ve traveled all over the world doing music, but the place that inspired me the most and left a heavy impression on me was going to my homeland Haiti. In 2020, I traveled to Haiti for the first time. Having such a strong cultural connection through my heritage and family made the experience very special for me.
Where are some must-go-to places in your hometown?
Americana mall in Manhasset, Long Island. This is an upscale, open-air shopping mall similar to Rodeo Drive. I love to go here to shop and eat.
What foods and restaurants would you recommend?
I hang out in Long Island a lot and some of my favorite places to visit and dine at are Tocu, Peter Lugers, Sabora Restaurant, Kura which is an amazing revolving sushi bar.
What are your must-have items when traveling?
My Bible because I always wake up and go to sleep with a word from God. I also have a chain with a picture of my dad around my neck. My father is my guardian angel. He passed away a year ago on Father’s Day. The loss of my father inspired me to write, “Love Takes Me Higher” in honor of my father. My dad’s love takes me higher. I’m close to being #1 in the country due to the success of this record.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
I typically create R&B music that predominantly revolves around themes of love and relationships. My creative side often delves into the intricacies of human connection, expressing the nuances and emotions associated with love in its various forms. The R&B sound serves as a canvas for me to explore and articulate the complexities, joys, and challenges inherent in relationships, allowing me to create a musical narrative that resonates with listeners on a deep and personal level.
What is your creative process?
My creative process happens organically, typically initiated by a deep connection with the music. Once I immerse myself in the melodies, they flow naturally. The interplay between the music and my creative instincts guides the formation of melodic arrangements. As the musical foundation takes shape, I integrate lyrics, a process that unfolds entirely within the realm of my thoughts.
How does your culture influence your music?
My music is deeply shaped by my cultural background. As a Haitian, born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, this all has played a part in my music. My Haitian heritage serves as a significant source of inspiration. The rhythmic and melodious influences of Haitian music, particularly the vibrant Kompa genre, resonate in my songs, adding a distinctive and culturally rooted flavor to my sound.
Growing up in the diverse and crazy environment of New York City has also left an indelible mark on my musical expression. The city’s urban culture, with its blends of music and styles, has seeped into my creative process. The energy, diversity, and constant innovation of New York’s music scene has encouraged me to explore and experiment with various elements of music. Moreover, the urban culture of New York inspires me to infuse a unique “drip” into my music. All New Yorkers possess a certain swagger that reflects in their music.
Can you share your favorite memory with music and travel?
My favorite memory is performing in Haiti in front of my people. I felt like I was home. The performance was held at JoJo Restaurant, an upscale restaurant in Petion-Ville. I performed in front of the press, TV and an audience with over 100 people. It was a great experience and the food was exquisite. Best Haitian food I ever had.
What is your favorite song to perform?
My favorite song to perform undoubtedly has to be “All On Me” ft Rick Ross and what makes it particularly special is the collaboration with the renowned rapper Rick Ross. The track seamlessly blends my musical style with Rick Ross’s distinctive flow, creating a dynamic energy that elevates the track.
“All On Me” holds a special place in my repertoire. The song allows me to showcase a fusion of styles, incorporating elements from both the R&B genre that I typically gravitate towards and hip hop.
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
If I had the opportunity to influence a change in the music industry, my focus would be on fostering a culture of more love and encouragement. I believe that by creating an environment where artists uplift and support one another, we can collectively strive to be the best versions of ourselves creatively.
In an industry often characterized by competition and intense scrutiny, emphasizing love and encouragement would create a more nurturing space for artists to grow and flourish. This approach acknowledges the diverse talents and perspectives within the industry and promotes collaboration rather than rivalry.
What are you working on currently?
Where can we watch your new video and listen to your latest music?
You can watch all my videos on my YouTube channel and you can find me across all streaming platforms.
Frances Handy (aka Franie M) is a music marketing and public relations specialist from Staten Island, New York. Music has always been a major influence since interning at Roc Nation, where she assisted on numerous artist marketing projects, brand activations, and PR campaigns. After achieving her BA in Business and Marketing Communication at Berkeley College, she founded public relation and artist branding agency, CGM Publicity.
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