I sat down with Josh Robinson… well not literally, we face timed… don’t worry Boris! Anyway, we spoke about how creative industries and musicians are keeping busy during such unprecedented times, without losing their minds! We discussed how the industry will change and what we can expect from Josh musically in the coming months. From live streams to Facebook groups, and viruses to viral content, here’s what we came up with.
So What Gave You the Idea to Busk Online?
I was thinking “sh*t what am I gonna do?” My Mum, she was putting leaflets through peoples doors, which were saying “anyone that can’t leave the house should contact this Facebook group and together we will try and go to the shops and stuff to get stuff for people.” She’s also trying to help kids who are having their birthday around this time. Thinking of fun content to put online so then they can have fun on their birthdays and stuff like that. She said I should go play music it could lift peoples spirits, and I was like “yeah f*ck it I’m gonna do it on my rooftop.” Then I had an outlet I guess, I decided to just go on and play for the whole street. At 6 o’clock every night I had people opening up their windows, I had people coming outside, they were further enough distance apart but people were actually standing outside the house to watch! That’s kind of where the idea came from, and I carried on because I had such a great response from it. I got a lot of requests, I’m getting like twenty-five a day and I’m only doing half an hour! It’s going great! I’m getting such a big audience from it. The older people, a lot of them don’t know how to use internet banking so I then decided to set up the go fund me page. So then they wouldn’t have to actually swap money between them and risk catching anything.
What’s the transition like from the street to the stream?
You know what? It’s a bit weird, because when I was busking, a lot of the time people were just walking past, your just background music and if they like you they put the money in and all that. If you’re on a live stream, people are watching everything you do. if you make one mistake it’s like “ohh sh*t that’s been video recorded! That’s going on all my things!” And loads of people have shared it as well! I can have like 30 people, or one of them even got 200 people on the livestream at one point. 200 people there watching everything that I did. It was quite daunting, it was definitely an adjustment but I’ve definitely got used to the live streaming now. And I’m doing it every night tonight’s my first break! Back at it again tomorrow!
It’s amazing when you think about it! 200 people if that was a gig that’s a lot of people, physically, you know what I mean? That can fill a room!
Yeah that’s a lot of people sitting there watching! yeah, and I had like 80 shares as well so you get one share go into another profile they’ve got 3,000 friends so that’s 3,000 people’s Facebook walls that you’re on! so you can see how something like that can go viral!
I think a lot of people respect what you’re doing, have you got any other ideas to bring live music to people?
I mean, I don’t know if you watch John Mayer’s “Current Mood.” He does like a TV show, he’s been doing it for like two years or so. He sets it up almost like a talk show so I think there’s other ways of creating entertainment online, I’m not sure if there’s another way of doing live music though. I guess there’s all this karaoke stuff going on as well. People are singing together on face time and I think that’s really cool! Maybe if everyone in your area got like a community group on Facebook or something, if you message everyone in your area and get everyone to do different parts of a song, different people with different instruments in your area and they all play it out their windows maybe. You could all sing songs together from all different areas. As well as that there’s a Facebook page called the lock down, it’s got half a million people in it! I’m actually recording a video today because you just send it to them and they put it on. That is getting sooo good at the moment! That’s another outlet Facebook groups as well as streaming.
As a musician, how can you see this pandemic affecting the whole music industry?
It will really benefit, or really hurt people’s careers. Artists are either gonna use it to their advantage or their just gonna sit there and wallow in it! I think the people who are gonna really try and see things positively are gonna do well. People taking advantage of everything online, people taking advantage of sitting at home not being able to do anything, and just practising and practising, are gonna come out on top. That’s what I’m tryna do, use it to really establish my branding, all my websites, get it sorted for when this is all over. I think it’s gonna bring the best out of a lot of people. Webcamming is gonna be a massive thing, like live streaming and it’s gonna move everything. I think a lot more people feel more connected and I think the people who gain fans during this time will also have fans for life as well. I think that the people that take it and see everything as a positive will come out on top.
How is this impacting your creative output and songwriting?
Due to the situation, I’ve actually had to move out of my flat because I really can’t afford it now, we’re not actually gonna have a tenancy anymore which is sad. I’ve had to be in the family home and I guess at the moment I’m not having any creative output because I’ve not got the space for it. What is good though, is having a lot of the time sitting there on logic. So I’m learning a lot of different production skills, and because I’m doing live streams I’m learning a lot of new songs. I’m learning a lot of new chord progressions. I think that this is really going to enhance my creative output in the future because I’m gonna have so many more skills that I wouldn’t have had previously, I just didn’t have the time to sit there and do it. I think it’s the first time in like three or four years, that I’ve gone “oh my god I’ve got time to do that, I’ve got time to learn that” so I guess it’s gonna help in that aspect, and to be fair my time was done in Brighton. I was ready to leave actually, I’m still gonna come back and visit every couple of weeks because I wanna carry on the band. I love it but I’m bored of living there now, for me my time there was done. I want to get out and start busking in London, Brighton’s so small, I kept seeing the same people.
What is your day to day routine while in lockdown?
I’m tryna wake up early, if I think if I wake up late I’m just gonna spend my day dossin’ around. So I’m tryna wake up at nine, for someone that’s been a uni student for three years it’s pretty hard to do that at first! But now I’m in the routine of it. I’m going downstairs and I’m doing three hours of uni work straight away. I just wanna get that out the way, because obviously I’m in third year now and I’m tryna get everything done. I go for a run or try and do some sort of exercise, even if it’s just a walk. I then come back and I’m learning the songs. I literally learn the songs an hour before I go on! So usually I’ve only played the song once, and then i’m doing it on the live stream! After the stream I’ll make dinner or have dinner if someones making it for me, and then after that I just kind of relax. I’ll go on logic, that sort of thing. The routines are really important because you’ve gotta know when you’re working, you’ve gotta get out, and you’ve gotta have some relaxation time. I’ve found I’m probably drinking beer a bit too much! That seems to be my routine at the moment getting to the evening then drinking! But don’t worry, I haven’t got drunk yet!
Any tips for surviving isolation? other than don’t get drunk!
Any tips for people… I’d just say stick to a routine. I think it’s ridiculous to be sitting there and watching TV all day, if anything I’m actually tryna stay away from TV altogether. I’m trying not to watch it till the evening because if I do then I’ll just go mad. That’s the main thing I’d say: routine. Try not to watch TV, try to watch other things, most people are productive a lot of the time and actually I think I’m being more productive now than if I wasn’t stuck inside, I watched a lot more TV before, but because i’m forcing myself to stay in the routine I’m a lot more productive. I’m doing it Monday to Friday, and I’m treating the weekend like the weekend. I’m actually getting a lot more sleep, and I’m looking after myself better.
Have you been stockpiling toilet roll? Tell the truth!
You know what? When everyone was going on about it I had the complete Brit-Mindset of “ohh this is nothing, it’s all gonna blow over it’s gonna be fine”. The day everyone was going on about it I was in Aldi I saw some loo roll and I thought, I can’t be bothered to carry that home! So I didn’t buy any, I haven’t had any loo roll for ages! I only got some loo roll two days ago for the first time in like two weeks, it’s been ridiculous!
How have you been surviving? That’s a long time to be without loo roll!
Well beforehand, I was just going across the road to McDonald’s, to use the toilet! And then luckily I’ve been at home since then so I actually haven’t had to have any! I bought ONE pack for myself! That was three days ago when you were only allowed to buy one! I haven’t even had the opportunity to stockpile! I went to Tesco’s to do a shop for my Family on Monday before the lock down, because we wanted to do one last shop, and I got there really early and I was allowed one nine pack, that’s all I’ve bought. The thing is there is enough for everyone! I don’t know why everyone’s being an a**hole about it!
Too right! Any plans for the summer, or whenever this thing blows over?
It’s annoying, we had a few gigs lined up and now they’ve all been cancelled, I hope as soon as this blows over I can go back and busk. What I’ve been wanting to do since I was like sixteen, is just go out into London, busk everyday, build up my name, build up my social media and try to make something of this thing. I’m able to record songs and send them over to my producer in Italy at the moment. Just so I’ve got something to release when this is all done, or even during if it’s produced and mastered in time, I’m just trying to prepare for the future. I’m getting it together to send off to companies to try and get work after. I had so many people watching these live streams, I’ve had people wanting me to do engagement parties, weddings, birthday parties, for when this is done. I’ve got a lot of work lined up for the future, and I’ve only been doing it a week. In a couple of weeks time I’m wondering how much more is gonna come of it.