Josh Kumra is best known for his contribution to hit summer song ‘Don’t Go’ with Wretch 32. Now the 21-year-old singer-songwriter is breaking out of Wretch’s shadow and just released his new single, ‘Helicopters and Planes.’
We caught up with Josh to talk festivals, inspirations, and what it would be like to work with Rihanna…
Hi Josh! You just played T4 on the Beach – are you enjoying the festival circuit?
I’m really enjoying it. I finished the festivals with Wretch last year in September and I just couldn’t wait for this year. I thought there’d be more sunshine but the festivals have been good anyway, so it’s good.
How different is it doing them on your own, without Wretch?
Smaller crowds! No, it’s really good. It’s kind of similar in a way because Wretch was also just coming out – even though he’d had ‘Traktor’ at number five and a song with Example, he was still relatively new on the scene. He was still winning over fans and playing to new people, and that’s what I’m doing now. It’s interesting to see that people are waiting on my music and want to hear some of it, so it’s good.
Do you find it difficult, after your number one hit with Wretch, to establish yourself as an individual artist?
Not really. I mean, ‘Don’t Go’ was originally my song anyway so it wasn’t totally different to what I was doing because that is what I was doing. It was just that Wretch came on it and made it a bit different, you know? And I’ve always been a singer-songwriter, I’ve always been playing to crowds, I’ve always been playing and making and writing music, so nothing’s new to me. It’s just that I’ve got a bit more of a platform and a bit more coverage.
So your individual music doesn’t differ much from ‘Don’t Go’?
Yeah, it’s definitely on the same road, you know. ‘Don’t Go’ is definitely a good specimen of what you can expect from the album. It’s got that modern edge to it but it’s also – if you listen to the lyrics and you listen to the structure, it’s actually a really traditional singer-songwriter kind of song.
What have your best and worst festival moments been so far?
Best would be last year we were at V Festival and myself and Wretch were actually number one the day we played. We had like 15,000 people singing ‘Don’t Go’ back to us which was the best feeling – the timing couldn’t have been better. And worst festival moment… When I played Wakestock, I sang the whole song and normally you’d see the crowd singing along, but nobody was singing along with me. I was thinking that I must sound really bad and then I realised that the microphone hadn’t been on through the whole song. That wasn’t a pleasant experience.
Do you prefer smaller, more intimate gigs or festivals?
To be honest, I like them both equally. When you get a bigger gig, you appreciate that you’re playing to more people and you get more of a vibe and a bigger buzz. But then you can lose that connection – when you’re at the small gigs, it’s really intimate and nice and everything seems to be slowed down. At the big festivals you’re rushed and you’ve just got to go out there and do it and then run off and that’s it. But when it’s intimate, you can take your time and get your point across better.
So when ‘Don’t Go’ blew up, did you feel like it was instant fame?
I don’t know, really. It was big last summer and we got loads of coverage and my Twitter followers went up by like fifteen thousand people. But to be honest, it’s like – I don’t know, the music’s number one for me so if this stuff comes along with it then cool, but I’m not out for that. It’s cool to have people interested in you but it’s even better when they’re interested in your music, so I think it’s just balancing the two. It’s good.
Your new single, ‘Helicopters and Planes’, is already up on YouTube. How’s the response been so far?
It’s been really good actually! It’s always a risky one, what your first single’s going to be after you’ve had something like ‘Don’t Go’, so I’m really surprised that people are there and they want to hear my stuff. I really appreciate it. ‘Helicopters and Planes’ has been really good – we got over two hundred thousand views in two weeks, so that’s a good sign. I don’t expect anything remotely close to ‘Don’t Go’ but it’s got people interested and I’ve put something out – it’s been a long while since I put something out, so it’s cool.
You didn’t feel any sort of pressure to live up to ‘Don’t Go’?
No, not at all. You don’t get a song like ‘Don’t Go’ every day and you don’t get a collaboration that works that well every day so I didn’t expect that. I believe in the songs that we’ve got and I’m really proud of the album, so hopefully there might be one or two that get close to it.
Is there a title for the album yet?
Yeah, the album title is ‘Good Things Come To Those Who Don’t Wait.’ It’s quite a long one.
What inspires you to make music?
Many things, to be honest. I normally write and get inspired by things that I see happen to people and the way they react. I just love getting to know people and I’m kind of a creep in that I like people-watching. It’s always great to get ideas. So that definitely inspires me, but also singer-songwriters like Tracy Chapman and Ray LaMontagne and anyone who’s got something true to say. I like honesty in songs and that’s what I try to do.
‘Helicopters and Planes’ is also a collaboration, so what would your dream collaboration be?
My idea collaboration would be Rihanna just so I can get her dancing on stage. I’d look like the coolest guy in the world – just Rihanna, yeah.
Finally, 2011 was a good year for you. How are you going to make 2012 even better?
I’m just hoping that I get the chance to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m really enjoying myself – I’ve been making the album and working with Mr Hudson on it and I’ve got loads of gigs coming up, I just want to keep busy. As long as that doesn’t end then hopefully I’ll bring an album out that I’m really proud of, and people like and enjoy.
Thanks Josh! Josh Kumra's new single, 'Helicopters and Planes', is out now.