He’s supported Tash Sultana on a world tour, smashed SXSW out of the park and is now preparing to release his debut EP, Josh Cashman is showing no sign of slowing down.
When I last caught up with Cashman it was after a small show with Tash Sultana in 2015 at Brighton Up Bar, and boy how time flies. “I wouldn’t have expected to be playing the Enmore Theatre, and I sold out the Northcote Social Club recently and I don’t think I wouldn’t have imagined myself last year doing these things within the next 12 months,” he says, amazed, “but it’s just the way things are happening. I’m not going to sit here asking questions. The Enmore was nuts, I played two shows, opened the first night and had main support on the second. I got a pretty awesome response as well from the audience and hopefully, that will build a Sydney following a bit more.
“It’s been hard in the past getting people to shows in Sydney, getting numbers without being smashed on the radio is really hard.” The way things are going and with a record on the way, it would only seem natural that Cashman will be taking Sydney by storm come December. And it’s looking to be that way, as he reveals that he has shows lined up for the next part of the year. “It’s looking to be around October, we’re going to be doing a run of shows, starting in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane. I’d love to do an Australian run, even just in some small rooms. I’m also doing a parlour house show tour around August and September, I’ve got a few shows around the country doing that playing people’s front yards, backyards and living rooms.”
In the meantime, the Melbourne local has made some pretty massive leaps in his sound, and as his latest single Beauty In Grey would suggest, learned a fair bit along the way. “Beauty In Grey I wrote about finding light in a dark place. We’ve all made stupid decisions from time to time and this song for me was about being accepted back, even though I’d made a really really horrible decision and acted like a bit of a douche,” he admits. “I wrote it just before I went away to America this year and came back after performing it over there for a while and getting a good response, people were really digging it when I was playing it live. So I put a bit more time and effort into it and went into the studio about a month ago now and laid it down, and I was really proud of how it turned out.
“It’s obviously not [what I’m] proudest of in regard to what the song is about, but the song itself is getting an awesome response.” Can we expect a more developed lyricism from Cashman? Known for his soulful and emotionally engaging voice, I was interested in hearing whether the upcoming EP would be a step in a more mature direction, one of the same self-reflection as we see in Beauty In Grey. “I think it’s become a bit more metaphorical without being confusing. I don’t like to hear things straight how they are, I like to get my own interpretation of a line or a verse. I’ve put in a lot more thought, I’ve done a lot more reading and getting my vocabulary up… I like what we’ve done with Beauty In Grey, I’m enjoying this mix of organic and electronic elements to production. We’re going to be releasing another single in August and the a couple of weeks after that will be the release of my debut EP. You’re going to hear stuff similar to Beauty In Grey… it’s going to be a 60/40 mix of organic and electronic. From a songwriting perspective, I’m happy with what I’ve written.”
He’s just come back from a huge round of shows overseas with Tash Sultana and playing showcases at SXSW, and these shows seemed to solidify in Cashman a sense of just how disparate audiences are on the global platform. “I remember my manager called me really early in the morning, and she only calls me early when she has good news… so we went over there, obviously being an up and coming you’re such a small fish in a big pond at a conference like [SXSW]. But we had about seven showcases which was great, so I played seven times over the week and three or four of them were great showcases and the other two were challenging in a lot of ways because you’re only playing to your manager and some punter in a bar.
“Most of it was awesome, and a lot of networking was done and a got a few opportunities out of it as well. I highly recommend it, it was just a learning curve more than anything and I’m sure we’ll do it again in the next few years. Going for the first time and learning what we would do differently for next time is something I would take out of it. I got to see some amazing artists and bands and meet some fellow Aussies who I like to listen to myself.”
The difference between audiences at home and those State-side were a point of interest for Cashman. “I found that over there was less rowdy. We’re pretty loose over here. It tends to be a bit less attentiveness to shows. It didn’t matter what night of where we were playing, everyone at those shows would be sitting there silent for all the shows, and in moments they really grabbed at you would get massive applauses during songs and after songs… They were some of the most responsive audiences that I’d ever played to.
“You could tell that had been waiting for Tash to come over. I was opening all the shows and the room was full, half an hour even before I was meant to go on. The response that we got over there for the both of us was phenomenal; they were really attentive and respectful. There was such a good energy being thrown around, it wasn’t as if you had to try hard to impress them… you just had to go and do what you do. And now that you can see where your top plays are on your Spotify, and most of my top plays right now are over in the United States!”
4 August, Northcote Social Club, Melbourne