INTERVIEW: Josiah Leming
In the spring of 2013, independent artist Josiah Leming hit the road with fellow singer-songwriter One Love for his first headlining tour, the Listen Close Tour. April 10 took the artists to Atlanta, where they were joined by Jacksonville artist Jenni Reid. All three artists gave their all at the stop, giving infectious energy that made the small gathering feel like a bigger show.
Prior to the show, Candor News was able to sit down with headliner Josiah Leming, where we got down to business where we talked tour, social media, and more.
Q. You’ve taken to Twitter and Facebook to heavily promote this tour. What role do you think social media has played in your career as a whole?
Josiah Leming: It plays a huge role, especially now. It’s all I have really. I’m not spending a lot of money to go to radio and do all that kind of stuff. And that’s a decision I made so all of my people are accessible through social media. It’s played a huge role. And what I’ve implemented from this tour is that I just want people to know. And I know how social media works. It’s gotta be in your feed to see it, so I just bombasted it. And you just have people who say, “Well, I don’t wanna see all that,” to which I say, “Please go away.” This is my life, this is my career. If you don’t wanna see about me going on tour, then I don’t want you following me on my social media. Because this is what I do for a living, you know? And in order for my music to not to be bullshit, I use that as my primary form of promoting.
Q. How do you think your career would be different if social media was as prevalent a couple years ago as it is now?
JL: I think it has just slowly progressed. I think that social media has changed the way things are done. I don’t know, I came on to the scene right when things were turning a corner. The social media thing just helps, really. It helps artists that don’t have labels and representation build a fan base that they can access.
Q. How did you and One Love meet?
JL: He hit me up, and he wanted to write when I was living out in L.A. And then I moved to New York, and he hit me up again. We had a mutual producer friend, and I was like, “Sure, yeah, I’ll come over and write a song,” so we met up and just started hanging out.
Q. When did you both come to the decision to tour together?
JL: It was the end of November or the first of December in New York, we were sitting in my apartment and we were just both talking about being frustrated with living in the city and the game that comes along with when you’re not on the road and you’re not making a record.
There’s this kind of game you play in the industry where you try and get something under your belt that holds weight with the people that are higher up, which is a lot of writing with people, and a lot of trying to get stuff placed. And I was just like, “I fucking hate this, I don’t wanna do this anymore,” and he was in the same boat, and he had this bus, and I have connections to get booking for a tour, so we were like, let’s do it.
Q. What sets this tour apart from your previous tours?
JL: This tour is different because it’s mine, number one. And [on tours] people make decisions based off of money. The tours I was on, they were like, “We’re not gonna go to Florida because it’s a lot of gas, you gotta go down in, and it’s not worth it.” To me, it’s like, I don’t give a shit, I just wanna play music. And if you wanna see me play music, I’m gonna go play music. And it’s longer, it’s bigger, and it’s more in depth, I think we set it up better than any tour I’ve been on. We had good lead time on it, we had giveaways, we had a lot of promo stuff.
For me, it’s about the fan experience being as good as it can be. I’m playing a lot of older songs because I went through a phase where I only wanted to play new songs, and I get bored very easily. I realized [only playing new songs] hinders people’s experience with connecting with certain songs. And I know how I feel when I go see an artist that I love, and they play shit. I wanna hear what I love, you know? I guess those are the biggest differences.
And for me, it’s fixing me, it’s healing me. I’m just fed up with the business aspect of music, and I just don’t care enough. I’m too smart, and I’m too personable, and honestly, there are days where I’d rather go to college, and just work, and make a lot of money, cause I don’t wanna deal with the bullshit. I just wanna make music. So for me, this allows me to just make music.
Q. Which one of your older songs were you the most excited to revisit?
JL: ”Paper Houses”, I’ve been playing at a lot of shows and I’m really excited about it. I’m doing something new with “Come On Kid” and “Song Without a Reason”, putting new twists on them. But for me, just learning them in general was exciting. I’m always forward minded. I’m always most excited about the next song that I’m about to write.
Q. What has been the most requested so far?
JL: The most requested songs I get so far have been “Bad News Baby”, “One Last Song”, or some of my older stuff. “Dream Reality”, every now and then.
Other than meeting your fans in person, what’s your favorite part of touring?
JL: That is absolutely my favorite part.
Other than that, I like the — how do you put it? — I like that I can just clean my hands when I’m done and I can just move on. Nothing’s ever that bad, because there’s another city, there’s another show to play, there’s another set of people that wanna see the show. For me, I like that it lets things not get too heavy. I like being on the move, and I don’t wanna sit in the same place. I’m changing everyday. Especially on the road, you become a new person everyday.
When you live in the same town, you have people around you and they get to know you, that’s who you are, and if you do something different or out of character, they give you the eyeball like you’re weird. I’m a weird person, and I change all the time and I love that. I like that I can be somebody in Atlanta, and I can have an interaction, and I can just go on to the next city and try out something new. That intrigues me, and I get anxious when I sit in the same place.
Q. Other than the tour, what can fans expect from you in the upcoming months?
JL: In the upcoming months, tour. That is what they can expect. I am going to not do what I’ve always done, which is constantly just put out stuff, and then tour, and then put out stuff. I’m gonna sit down, I’m gonna travel on my own without touring, go to the UK, I’m gonna write some more, and I’m just gonna live a little bit. The most important aspect of writing is living, to live life and experience some things. It may be six months, it may be two months, it could be a year, it could be two years. I’m gonna work on my next release. I don’t know what they could specifically expect.
Q. Your UK fans have been dying for you to do some shows over there. Do you plan on touring once you get there?
JL: I know. I will. I want to do a tour, and then settle down, and then write, and then tour a little more. My goal is to switch. I wanna live [in the UK], and then come [to North America] occasionally. It’s a decision that I’ll obviously have to make, once I’m there.
The Listen Close Tour will be in a city near you this summer! Check out the tour dates at bit.ly/lctjl, and make sure to RSVP on Facebook, where giveaways and updates are will be announced. Also check the Twitter hashtag: #listenclosetour, and follow Josiah at @josiahleming and One Love at @oneloveny.
This piece originally appeared on Candor News in 2013.