Like a moth emerging from a cocoon, Prince Josh hones a fresh sound in his upcoming album Moth, where he takes his initial murky, blurred sound and adds depth and layers to his craft. Exploring vocal samples, backwards instrumentation, and club music, the singer incorporates themes and aspects of different styles of music production to form a cohesive and enticing sound.
Ambient yet hype, the tracks found within his upcoming record make you want to move, whether it’s a sway or a jump. Coming a long way from his 2020 debut album The Joy, Prince Josh now produces songs from which he can sample to create more songs – a technique he has developed and can be found within the tracks The Glory and The Glory (Reprise). Having released three singles so far, stay tuned for the entire album, out August 25th.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I want to start by congratulating you on your upcoming album, Moth, which drops in just a few days. How are you feeling leading up to its release?
I’m incredibly excited for this album to finally come out. The project went through many iterations during the time of writing and recording. I initially started working on new music for the album in April 2020. I made a lot of stuff during the pandemic but ultimately decided to scrap most of it. I found that most of the music I was making at that time was very reactionary to the times. I was either making hard club songs or minimal ambient tracks. The album started to take shape at the end of 2022, and the last track on the album was recorded in winter of 2023.
Let’s start with the title. It’s also the name of the opening track of your album. Where did the inspiration for this title come from? And what does it mean to you?
I wanted the title of this record to be something concise. I started thinking about evolution and how it fits in with my musical journey. The process of writing and recording a sophomore album can be a daunting task, and I started relating this process to a moth in hibernation. A lot of Canadian artists go through similar experiences, we write and record music in the winter and release it in the summer. I gravitated to the idea of moths when I realised I was close to finishing this album. It felt like I had emerged from a long hibernation of experimenting until I found my sound.
The track titles are quite minimalistic. They’re either one word – Moth, Wax – or they’re short phrases – Close to You, Bring the Beat Back –. How did you go about naming the tracks? Did you have a name and then crafted the sound around the title or vice versa?
I usually name my songs at the end of the process, especially the one-word titles. It’s often hard to name instrumental songs without sounding overly pretentious. Close To You and Bring The Beat Back made sense because those are the vocal samples in the tracks. I try to name them based on a feeling. Most of my songs start out with names to help me differentiate them. Wax was initially called Backwardsguit because I recorded myself playing the guitar and sampled it backwards.
Your stylistic journey was described as a transition from “a hazy lo-fi take on dance music to a crisp three-dimensional sound.” How exactly do you find this change in your approach to creating music? What ignited this change?
I’ve always been drawn to lo-fi music. I love bedroom recordings and music that feels like it was discovered in a dollar bin. Actress’ Ghettoville was a huge inspiration for The Joy. I tend to get bored by things easily and try to reinvent myself musically as often as possible, so for this project I wanted to switch things up and go for a more clear sound. I wanted to make this album less buried behind walls of reverb.
What were some differences between honing your sound for Moth versus your debut album, The Joy, in 2020?
The Joy was originally meant to feel like a DJ mix. The first five tracks on the album flow together and can be experienced as a single one. I wanted Moth to feel more like an album with different genres blending together in each song. The Joy also featured a lot of obscure samples of people vlogging on their webcams on YouTube. Most of the vocal samples on Moth are from people I actually know. Moth is also heavily inspired by IDM, trip hop and big beat whereas The Joy pulled more from house music.
The press release of Moth speaks about how you weren’t finding material to sample, so instead, you decided to create full songs yourself from which you could sample. One example is the sample you use from The Glory (Reprise) in The Glory. Could you tell us more about this approach?
This approach initially came from the amount of music I made during the pandemic. I was making all sorts of songs in different genres and styles. Sampling music in 2023 can be incredibly difficult when it comes to clearance. I originally recorded The Glory with Lauren Armstrong as a standalone song for fun. When I started working on what later became The Glory (Reprise), I was looking for a vocal sample and decided to put her a capella into my sampler. Once I realised that I had an entire library of songs that were probably never going to see the light of day, I decided to use them as my source material to create new songs. The song Dream Story samples Orit’s vocals from our 2022 song One Time. In both instances, I chopped their vocals to create new phrases and sentences, ultimately giving the songs new meaning.
You also experiment with different vocal lines in some of the tracks. In general, the vocals are very muffled and simply add to the instrumentation without displaying very clear or cohesive lyrical messages. How did you go about implementing the voice as another instrument?
My first project back in 2009 was a solo post-punk band called Little Girls where most of my vocals were completely buried in the mix. I tend to treat vocals as more of a background instrument than a lead. I like when they add a texture that can blur the line between a voice and an instrument. Lyrics tend to be the last thing I think about when writing a song. I prefer to sample a single sentence to create a sort of mantra.
You just mentioned the band Little Girls, and you’ve also worked as Prince Innocence. How do you find working and collaborating with other artists compared to working on your solo projects?
I love to collaborate with other artists but like to keep my circle fairly small. Most of the people I work with are friends first, collaborators second. I can be pretty picky when it comes to decision-making for my music and like the ability to make a choice sonically and just stick with it. That being said, recently I’ve been trying to be more open-minded and collaborate with more people.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences? Where do you find inspiration?
My biggest musical inspirations are from artists with long career trajectories. I love discovering an artist and being able to follow their work as it evolves. Alice Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sonic Youth, Prince, Kanye West and Aphex Twin to name a few.
After Moth releases in a couple of days, what do you see as your next steps? Will you go on tour? Are there other projects you’re working on?
I currently have no plans to go on tour for this project, but I’m not opposed to it. Lately, I’ve switched gears and started a new band called Thermal. It’s been really refreshing to play with other people and write songs on guitar again.