Rock & roll revivalist, Josh Christina is bringing retro back in all the best ways. Reminiscent of an era when music sold itself, Christina’s classic energy humbly commands his audience, both on stage and through the stereo. With a sound described as “an infectious blend of piano driven, high octane boogie-woogie and pop ’n’ roll,” Josh Christina has not only received high praise from Daryl Davis (band leader for Chuck Berry) and Kent Wells (producer of Dolly Parton), but also gained international attention on Ireland’s The Late Late Show. Josh Christina’s latest single “Old Piano”, illustrates the lifecycle of timeless melodies narrated by hammers and strings. “Old Piano” serves as a thoughtful, contemplative and inspiring ode to Christina’s forever muse—the grand piano.
- Can you tell us a little bit about where you come from and how you got started making music?
Josh Christina: I’m from Cockeysville, Maryland. I was always around music growing up and at the age of six I heard Elvis Presley and it changed my life. That led me to Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Elton John and that’s when I started playing piano and songwriting.
- Have you had formal training or are you self-taught?
Josh Christina: I’ve had a few lessons, maybe half a dozen but besides that’s I’m self-taught.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Josh Christina: First was the king, Elvis and then all those rock and roll guys. Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry. That sound was so raw and real.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Josh Christina: For me, I always try to keep the piano upfront. You don’t really hear that a lot in today’s music, the piano as the lead instrument. I think it makes my sound somewhat unique.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
Josh Christina: When I first started singing, I tried to sound just like Elvis and it took some time to grow out of that phase. I think some of it stuck around so on certain songs, you can still hear that influence. Same with piano. I wanted to play just like Jerry Lee Lewis. I think all artist go through three phases of development: Inspiration, emulation and innovation.
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Josh Christina: I try to keep politics and all out of my music. Gospel music was a big influence of mine so I do that and write that style from time to time but mostly I try to write what I’m feeling and for joy and entertainment.
- Do you ever write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and presuppose that it will be appreciated by a specific audience?
Josh Christina: I mix it up. Some songs are trendier with the lyrics or chord progressions or productions. Others are more old school and more random.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do you most often start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed musical piece? Do you usually start with a beat, a narrative in your head, or a melody?
Josh Christina: For me it all starts with a hook or the main subject of the song. Then I’ll write the chorus and then next the verses and bridges. I usually always write the music along with the lyrics.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your musical career, or life so far, and how did you overcome the event?
Josh Christina: I’d have to say right now with COVID. I live performing live and traveling and with the current situation I can’t so that’s been very hard. I’m very hopeful for a great 2021 though!
- What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
Josh Christina: In 2018 I went to Memphis and recorded a live studio album at Sam Phillips Recording. Such an historic place. Got to record on a piano Jerry Lee Lewis played and got to hangout in a place so any legend stood. Was such a cool experience!
- If someone has never heard your music, which 5 keywords would you personally use to describe what you and your music is all about?
Josh Christina: Tough question but I’d say energetic, real, emotional, fun and storytelling.
- If the name Josh Christina came up in a conversation among music fans, alongside which other current artists would you most like to be associated with in that conversation?
Josh Christina: I feel like there’s not too many current artist I get associated with. Meghan Trainor has a throwback kind of vibe and so does Chris Stapleton so maybe the two of them? I get compared to some older artist all the time which is a huge compliment.
- Where do you do most of your recording and production work? And is that where you recorded your new project “Old Piano”?
Josh Christina: My last two singles I worked with Skyline Brigade out of Nashville. They’re great to work with and really can take my sound and amplify it.
- Where did the idea and inspiration for “Old Piano” come from?
Josh Christina: I had an idea about if a piano told its life story. Pianos last forever and get passed around and moved around a lot. They get played by many different people and cross over many generations. I wanted a song to express that. Like if the piano was writing down it’ story.
- What were the main compositional, performance and/or production challenges you came across on the new song?
Josh Christina: Actually can’t really think of anything. It went pretty smooth. I know at the end we wanted to convey the piano being older so that took a minute but it wasn’t really a challenge.
- Are you entirely happy about how the track came out, or is there something you keep thinking you should have done differently in some way or another?
Josh Christina: This is probably one of my top five tracks of any song I’ve written/recorded. I really love it.
- How long did it take you to complete the song – from its conception to its recording and the final production – and which phase took up the most of your time?
Josh Christina: I wrote the song in probably twenty minutes or so? Then there was a few months of not recording or anything. Took us three days in Nashville to record it and all. From start to finish, probably four months I’d say.
- With all the various music genres flying around, what initially drew you to becoming a rock n roll revivalist?
Josh Christina: There’s just something about that era, that style that hooked me. The rawness of it all. Also the history involved. Rock and roll did only change music but it changed culture forever.
- Do you ever collaborate with any other artists? And if you could choose to perform alongside any internationally famous artist right now, who would that be?
Josh Christina: Not really. I’d love to perform or tour with Elton John. He’s one of my hero’s in the business but up to this point, I haven’t really worked with anyone else.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Josh Christina: The most rewarding thing to me is a live show and a lively crowd. There’s nothing like it. The electricity in the room and all is the best. I’d love to to keep performing and playing bigger and better shows. There’s nothing like people coming to hear you play your music live.