Interview: Josh Kumra

Although you may not be aware of Josh Kumra yet, you soon will be. With a killer voice, soulful and silky smooth, displayed on his hit single collaboration ‘Don’t Go’ with Wretch 32, Josh now moves to his own solo project with the release of Good Things Come to Those Who Don’t Wait on April 22nd.

Whilst talking about collaborating with Wretch 32, Josh found it remarkably easy, having just gone for a meeting with the rapper and coming out with what would become the finished track only “a few hours later.” He then went on to collaborate with Emile Sande on ‘Helicopters and Planes’ which became his first proper single, with [from press release] a “soulful sound which connects the chart-topping re-work of ‘Don’t Go’ to the more acoustic-leaning album to come.”

So, amongst this amalgamation of a hip-hop/acoustic cross-over, where does Kumra fit? When asked, he says he’s “most comfortable with a guitar in his hand and an emotional song to fit.” Amongst all the production on some of the songs on the album, Kumra maintains that “if it doesn’t sound good on an acoustic, it doesn’t make the album.”

This sense of emotion in his songs leads Kumra to citing examples such as ‘Fool to Cry’ by the Rolling Stones on his press release and, when asked about yesterday evening’s line-up release, was naturally happy about the Stones inclusion. With early inspiration coming from the Stones and, amongst others, Eric Clapton who his dad built some furnishings for one time, Kumra spent evenings reminiscing about gigs his father had been to and discovering his record collection, citing the unplugged album by Clapton, Tracey Chapman and a U2 gig at Wembley as particularly memorable. His inspiration may have originally come “straight from his dad’s music” which can be felt in the soul of Kumra’s voice, the songwriting nuances and emotion carried through his music but he is definitely an artist of today.

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Throughout the interview, he uses the word “vibe” a fair bit and, right now, is loving that “vibe” of his early inspiration coming through artists such as Ben Howard who he highly praises for Every Kingdom, comparing it to the aforementioned Chapman and arguing that there’s “not a bad track.” His other listening at the moment lies with Gary Clark Jr. (who’s been hailed as a “modern day hendrix”), early Black Keys albums and even Americana.

Kumra’s diversity, throughout his listening and songwriting life, is both reflected in his songs, and the modern mainstream, which we also discussed with Scott Mills. “Whilst the poppy stuff is always around, there’s lots of diversity and ‘feel-good folk vibes’ are breaking through.” 

Hopefully Kumra will be the next ‘feel-good vibe’ breaking through. For him, it’s “all about the music” and, with a big month ahead, including the release of his debut album, this philosophy seems to be working well. He also soon flies to Milan to tour with One Republic to 8,000 people, is playing festivals such as Boardmasters in Newquay where he is due to headline one of the stages and says that all of that will “hopefully lead to a headline tour”. Although big things, big venues, and big audiences that Kumra “gets a buzz from” seem to be on the horizon, he is still “down to earth” and doesn’t shy away from an intimate setting: “that’s where you see if a song works, whether the emotion’s there.”