Indifferential Magazine - Meet ARI JOSHUA
Feb 01, 2024
Where can we find you right now and what are you up to?
Right now you can find me at www.arijoshua.com, there you can download sheet music for my music, sign up for mailing lists, read the news and listen to the tracks. As well I have a music school you can sign up for lessons, we also teach remotely so that can be found at www.musicfactorynw.com.
Is there a story behind these two new releases? What inspired you to create “Elephant Walk” & "Country Stroll"? One was a tribute to Bill Frisell? Tell us about your creative process.
I know Billy has a thing for exotic percussion, and he has an ear for the occult sounds. I have had this shaker with me for years, something I got in a museum in South Africa. I have a few, these are all like vintage instruments from hundreds of years ago. The sounds are really dimensional. I gifted one to Billy on day one, and he used it all over the session. On the trip we bought it we went to a huge game reserve and spent like a week driving around. Something impressive about seeing these animals in their habitat. We say herds of elephants, and one in particular we thought was going to walk into our car. Billy encouraged me to bring the art that made sense to share in the moment. I prepared like 30 new works, and this just came up. We would set an intention and be with a song, and then move to the next song. My creative process is to listen to the cats I am working with, to be vulnerable, and to also know when to take some ownership. There is a balance.
If you had to describe the essence of "Country Stroll" in a few words, what would they be, and why?
Country Stroll is like if Bill Frisell, Trey Anastasio, Jerry Garcia, Thelonius Monk, David Grisman, and Elvin Jones, had a love child and that love child was walking around the woods on a summer’s day drinking lemonade and honey.
How about “Elephant Walk”?
Elephant Walk is the sound of a family of majestic giant elephants walking the plains years before humans came on the scene. Being the largest creatures on the planet the music depicts a time when they were free to wander, to roam, and to walk about the bush and each eat 300 pounds or vegan food.
How did the collaboration with John Medeski and Billy Martin come to happen, and what unique elements did Medeski and Martin bring to the compositions?
When I was in NY I had the pleasure to have the best teachers, and classmates, and to be immersed in a scene that was just thriving on so many levels. Looking back I am unsure if we realized how lucky we all were. I would frequently see these guys play and say hi, and even tried to set up some collaborations at that time. It started with John and I talking about options. I think when I finished my EP with Ray Paczkowski and Russ Lawton, I reached out to about 15 or so friends and colleagues in NY about maybe doing something while I was out there. We didn’t know what the future had in store, but we knew that there was a protocol that could be followed, basically isolate and collaborate. I had some drummers in mind, and after talking to Billy, I was like well this is perfection, the gods are smiling on us. I sent John some charts to preview and he basically liked them all, Billy had a more philosophical outlook, and I learned so much from both of them. Just very nice genuine and focused individuals. Very like minded. I was really delighted to hear how generous they were with sharing how they do things in MMW. Little things, and I love those guys so much, there was a lot that they brought to the table. The most important was their presence, their vulnerability, and their incomparable life experiences. Brilliant human beings.
What do you think of AI in music? Will this change the way we produce and consume music?
No. There is no substitute for human expression tapped into the source, connected to the fountain of life. There is no substitute for the capacity to transform human struggle, pain, and joy into sounds that are filled with emotions.
What is the most difficult part for an artist these days? Could you tell us a bit about the obstacles you had to overcome?
It seems to be almost impossible for most artists to get to the level they should be at. It feels like a daily grind, not only is there the hours you put into your craft, the music, and the humanity, there is also the whole business side of things which is often not regulated, there are rarely unions, and the clubs oftentimes want to only pay you if they get paid. If there is an obstacle I feel like I have been through it. It's been a long journey, but it makes those moments where you get where it all lines up even more magical. I think the most challenging part is connecting the dots. Finding the resources to build or hire a team is often really hard because the skill sets you need can also work for tech companies or other industries that can keep up. One good thing about having been through so much is that if any one needs advice, or if there is a way I can help the next generation I can speak from experience. Kurt Rosenwinkel once told me, you climb up the mountain one step at a time. If you do that day after day year after year, you find people are asking you how you got so far up the mountain. In a way I am blessed. There are many people that ask me how I got so far up the mountain. The only thing is, to me all I can see is more mountain, more steps that need to be taken. It’s humbling. It really is a phenomenal path to take. My secret fantasy is that politics will actively debate the way we have treated my community, the artists. All in all it is really quite shocking. On the other hand look at how many artists there are to inspire us, and to represent humanity and stand as examples of some of the greatest accomplishments through unbelievable adversity. I have been talking to some folks about starting a patreon, or a blog, or a channel where I can be vulnerable and start to share some of those challenges. I don’t feel like I can share right now, but I am getting closer.
What initially sparked your interest in music, and how did you begin your journey as a musician? What was the first record you’ve listened to?
The first record I heard was Debussy at my Granny Queenies flat on Seapoint Road in Cape Town. She said I would run to the record player and say ‘Mimic’. After moving to the states I asked my folks for a guitar. I had a wind up fisher price record player. I loved it. My folks got me a piano and some lessons at age 8. I rebelled and asked for a guitar, and after about 5 years a neighbor bought me my first guitar. “The Terminator” had a built-in speaker, it was all black, and I started to learn by ear. The blues, and Jimi Hendrix, and that was it.
"Country Stroll" is described as a journey through sound, skill, and homage to musical greats. “Elephant Walk” has been described as the heartening sounds of a classic piano trio with an original twist… What should we wait for from you in the future?
More music, more education, more making the world better one moment at a time wIth sincerity, humbltude, gratitude, and in the spirit of the masters that came before.
My music will always come from my label Music Factory Records, look for about 2 tracks a month in 2024. I will always reinvest in education to help the future generations, and keep on going!