New Sounds: Josh Richard opens his soul (on his own terms) on ‘PWNY’


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Our current social media climate is allegedly great for a lot of things — instant satisfaction and gratification, an onslaught of news and media, and open portals into artists who overshare on a daily basis.

But there still needs to be avenues for creatives to move at their own deliberate paces. Massachusetts musician Josh Richard, who last year released his Cities & States LP, admits that his comfort zone is likelier to find him cooped up in a studio creating music on his own terms rather than shouting every moment from a social media mountaintop. That allows a greater voice to accompany his finished product, and today the self-taught multi-instrumentalist and multi-media artist unveils the video for his song “PWNY”, a trippy number that connects ’60s British psychedelia to modern fuzz-rock, aided by a colorful and glitchy visual pulled together with found footage from archive.org, partially edited and shot on his iPhone.

“[It’s] a wide open soul song, and I knew the lyrics were going to be dramatic and existential when I wrote the opening chords,” Richard tells Vanyaland. “Musically, I’m a pretty restless person and with this particular song I wanted to explore the feel of T. Rex, the Beatles, and Tame Impala. I like trying to think of my influences in a room composing together, and the choices their collaboration would materialize. My dear friends Jhai Sinnatamby (Engineer), and Andy Bickerton (Drums) were invaluable in helping me achieve this vision. I want the listener to be overwhelmed, confronted by a wall of stimuli and that’s essentially what I‘m trying to do with the video as well.”

That video truly syncs with the sonics coming out of the speakers, and it’s fun to imagine Richard’s musical vision coming into view. Even if there’s no bank-breaking budget behind its creation.

“As a working artist my budget was literally zero dollars, so I gathered hours of Creative Commons footage from archive.org, taught myself Adobe Premiere, and tried to throw an engaging series of clips together,” he adds. “I’m a sucker for the inherent meaningfulness of old technology, constantly stuck in a fog of nostalgia. The footage revolves around continuity and degradation, and the parallel between growth and decay. Life is intense and ridiculous, but not without its beauty. When I can sit back and say ‘I’ve created a monster’, that’s when my work is done. I can move on.”

Up next for Richard is the release of an Amy Winehouse cover recorded with Elio Deluca at the Soul Shop, a new record with legendary Boston musician Jon Butcher, who was a part of Cities & States, and a solo summer tour.

But not before each of those things are ready for public consumption.

Featured Josh Richard photo by Camilla Anne Jerome, via joshrichardmusic.com. After digesting the ‘PWNY’ video, revisit ‘Cities & States’ below.