Josh Sahunta Shares Thoughts On New Single “Leave Summer Behind”

Kat Harlton

Edmonton based singer songwriter Josh Sahunta has gained major support from Apple Music and Spotify leading to several features on Spotify’s editorial playlists including “New Music Friday Canada” and on Apple music’s “New Music Daily” playlist. His single “Wanting” has been recognized by Pete Tong and MistaJam on BBC Radio 1 in the UK and from Tiesto on his weekly podcast.

Josh recently released his new single “Leave Summer Behind”, which combines Josh’s deeply rich songwriting capabilities with cool, contemporary soundscapes in this easy to love, mellow tune. Smooth vocal harmonies weave between bright beats and an upbeat guitar melody in a style reminiscent of John Mayer.

We had the opportunity to chat with Josh about his new single, what he’s learned on his musical journey thus far, and what’s next.

Kat: For those who are just being introduced to your music, how would you describe it? Is there anything you’d want them to know before listening to it?

Josh: I would say that my music is a mixture of contemporary R&B and this new wave of “guitar-pop” that seems to be making a comeback. Like if John Mayer, Ed Sheeran and The Weeknd started a boy band. It’s largely guitar-based, but each song places a heavy focus on the lyrics. I also produce my songs as well, and so that’s where you’d hear the R&B/Hip-Hop influences.

Kat: You recently released your new single “Leave Summer Behind.” Can you talk about the inspiration behind it, and if there was a particular sound or style you were hoping to achieve?

Josh: “Leave Summer Behind” was the product of a national “Summer Song” competition that was put on by Corus Radio. I actually won that competition with this song which is still surreal to me considering that the last thing I won was a free donut at Tim Hortons. I wrote this song about how “unusual” this year, and more specifically, this summer has been. When writing a “summer song”, you would typically think of traveling, or going out and doing fun things, but 2020 kind of put a halt on all of the above. I wanted to capture that lyrically, but keep the music very light and fun and, well, “summery”.

Kat: You’ve shared the stage with incredible artists including Scott Helman and Joey Landreth at venues across Canada, the U.S., and Europe. You were also selected as the winner of the Corus Radio $20k Summer Song competition against 3,000 other entrants across Canada, and your single “Take All I Am” released in 2017, was used on season 2 of the Netflix Original show The Order. What has been a career highlight for you so far? What have you learned along the way?

Josh: It’s been an amazing couple years for sure! I would have to say though, that teaching music in Uganda has been a major career highlight for me. I had the opportunity to spend some time at a school in a town called Iganga, where a lot of the children are orphans, and most, if not all, live in severe poverty. I had the privilege of being able to teach music classes, as well as instruct smaller groups on how to play the guitar and the piano. It was truly incredible seeing the joy that music was able to bring to this school. The kids woke up early each morning to fight over who got to practice the guitar first, and it was amazing to be able to teach the older kids how to explain chord shapes to the younger ones. I will never forget this experience, and it’s one that I’ll always hold dear to my heart. It really taught me the true value of music. It’s not about seeking fame, or money, or any of that kind of clout. It’s about changing lives, and making even just one person’s day a little bit better.

Kat: Do you have any advice for emerging artists? Or have you ever been given any advice that really stuck with you or made an impact?

Josh: Two pieces of advice that have impacted me more than anything else are 1) PRACTICE. Too many people (myself included) try to “start a career in music” before they’re ready and before they’ve even honed in on their skills. If you want to be a great guitarist, make sure you’re practicing every single day. If you want to be a professional songwriter, you need to be writing songs every single day. There’s no shortcut when it comes to this. 2) Be the nicest person in the room. It doesn’t matter if you’re a virtuoso at your craft; if you’re a jerk, nobody will want to work with you. Be humble, treat the janitor the same way you’d treat the headliner that you’re thrilled to open for. People remember how you treat them.

Kat: How has Covid-19 and the world in general impacted your music and songwriting? And has it inspired you to find other ways of reaching out and creating?

Josh: Covid-19, huge pain in the butt as it is, has forced me to broaden not just my income streams, but also my comfort zone of collaborating. I had many shows unfortunately canceled this year, and so my anticipated live show revenue had disappeared in the matter of weeks. I started doing production for other artists to earn money, and what started with one client, turned into 6 in the matter of a couple months. I’ve been doing all my co-writing over Zoom, and though I miss the in person writing experience, it actually hasn’t been all that bad writing virtually. The pandemic has given me a lot more to write about as well. Writing a song about the world ending would’ve been a little odd 2 years ago, but this year, it seems to be the hottest topic around.

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