Josh Milan interview part 2: putting the soul back in the music
Singer, songwriter, performer, producer as well as founder and head of Honeycomb Music, Josh Milan is a living legend of Soulful House Music.
In the first part of our interview with him, we chatted about his musical beginnings, the spirituality that seasons his music and his mission to “inject some soul” into the industry.
Join us in this second and last part of our interview as Josh gives a peek into the inside workings of Honeycomb Music, navigating the industry and shares his ongoing passion for performing.
If South African artists continue to support their own scene, artists, producers and DJs, they will not only survive, but they will become a model for artists from all over the world.”
With artists such as Diviniti and Tracey Brathwaite you have a really rich roster of artists at Honeycomb? How have you brought these artists into the label?
Josh Milan interview: I’ve met many artists in many different ways.
Meeting the artist is actually the easy part. It’s the scheduling that makes everything tough.
Our studios are not near public transportation so it takes a lot for one to get to me.
Tell us a little bit about the lesser known artists on the roster that are worth giving an ear to?
Josh Milan interview: I have a new artist; his name is Ernie Jackson. He’s a 12 string guitar player who has also been a music professor at a college for 30 years. Guitar virtuoso if you will.
There’s also a poet by the name of Janine Lyons.
Something very interesting. She’s doing poetry and hardly any spoken word. I’m not fully sure what the difference is, but she’s doing a poetry cover by Robert Frost [American poet] and that in my opinion makes her a poet.
There is a meditation album on the way. So many interesting things coming from Honeycomb Music.
Be on the lookout!
There must really be quite the interest to work with Honeycomb. What do you consider when deciding whether to sign up an artist or not?
Josh Milan interview: This is a very interesting question. Recently I decided to change the requirements needed in order to sign with Honeycomb. I believe the artist must be proactive in their own success.
Record labels must partner with the artist. They can no longer do business as they once did 20 years ago. Talent is not enough for an artist to join forces with Honeycomb.
The Internet has revolutionized the music industry with both good and not so good results. How is Honeycomb maximising the good aspects while minimizing the impact of the not so good ones?
Josh Milan interview: Honeycomb has taken full advantage of the benefits of the Internet.
While having a public relations person is very beneficial in a lot of cases and sometimes even necessary, the cost can be very high. The Internet has given us a way to market and distribute our music without the expenses of a distribution company.
We all are aware that file sharing still exists and we know that that can hurt the label, however we rarely give away music. This is one way we can avoid from having file sharing issues, but people will always share music so that problem will always exist.
People are the same where ever you go. They want good entertainment and good music that makes them feel good.”
Contrary to popular belief being the CEO of a record label is not all about signing huge deals and attending launches and other such glamour. How do you handle the slog of everyday tasks like meetings, staying up to date with taxes and other admin?
Josh Milan interview: I believe that prayer is the only thing that’s keeping me sane.
Whether its promoters, managers, A&Rs and even the artists themselves it’s been said that the egos in the entertainment industry are whale sized. You deal with all these people and many more, how do you manage the “BS” as it were?
Josh Milan interview: Honeycomb artists are all aware that we need each other. We share each other’s successes and understand that the light will not always shine on us.
We are more like a family and that approach helps keep the egos down. I’m an artist myself yet I have to promote and produce other artists, so I’m always in a position to put others before myself.
I’m blessed to be in a position that A&R people, managers and publishing people call me, so they have to deal with me on my terms. I also have to feel mutual respect if I’m going to do any business with anyone.
That in and of itself will eliminate any egos.
You have performed across the US, in Europe, South Africa and Asia. Which audiences did you feel you made the greatest connection with?
Josh Milan interview: People are the same where ever you go. They want good entertainment and good music that makes them feel good.
I happen to enjoy smaller audiences. It’s easier to connect when the people are closer to the stage.
What is it that you feel has enabled you to connect with audiences at a deep level?
Josh Milan interview: I think it the mutual love for the music and the lyrics. There’s something about it that resonates with me the entertainer and the audience. We both are on the same page at the same time.
You have been at it [performing] for quite a while. What are some of the things that still get you excited about hitting the stage?
Josh Milan interview: The anticipation of the smiles, the love exchange between me and the audience, and the level of happiness we’re all about to experience. There’s something very spiritual about all of that happening at once.
One of the strongest things about the scene in South Africa for me, was to see the way the artists supported their own!”
Any pre-performance rituals?
Josh Milan interview: I pray.
Of the times you have visited and performed in South Africa what has struck you about the House Music scene here?
Josh Milan interview: The passion and the age of the listeners.
Here in the States it’s not like that. Most of the young people are into other genres of music.
Which DJs, producers and vocalists impressed you and why?
Josh Milan interview: I’m sure that there are many artists, singers, producers and DJ’s in South Africa that I’m unaware of.
Two DJ’s that I however do know and love are Edsoul and Fang DaRhythm for their love and passion for this music. Bucie is an artist that I’ve written for.
She’s able to deliver a vocal more beautiful than what was written.
South Africa has to be one of the few places where House Music is mainstream. How do you think South African House Music artists can leverage this popularity to benefit themselves and the genre?
Josh Milan interview: If South African artists continue to support their own scene, artists, producers and DJs, they will not only survive, but they will become a model for artists from all over the world.
One of the strongest things about the scene in South Africa for me, was to see the way the artists supported their own! For the artists from South Africa, they should maybe stay focused on the scene there and allow countries from all over to follow.
Some weeks ago Sir LSG featuring Ayanda Jiya released a range of singles (Sandcastle) of which one is a Honeycomb Vocal Mix that you produced. How did this particular collaboration come about?
Josh Milan interview: Ralf Gum is a producer friend of mine.
He called and allowed me to hear the original. I thought the singer and production sounded beautiful so I was very glad to be asked to be a part of that project.
Are we likely to see more collaboration with South African and other African artists?
Josh Milan interview: I’m always open to musical opportunities.
South Africa has an impressive amount of talent. So my answer is absolutely.
You have mentioned your love for visual arts like photography and painting. To what extent have these influenced your music and vice versa in terms of your music influencing the photography and painting?
Josh Milan interview: It’s all artistic.
Musical feelings are often referred to as colours. Photography is nothing more than colour and light. So you see, it’s all related.
I am surely influenced musically by artwork and photography.
What would you like to say as a parting shot?
Josh Milan interview: Please let the people know to visit the website for information on our artists.
For booking inquiries please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
WITH JOSH MILAN