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Interview With Joshua Radin

Joshua Radin Presents Cabaremo

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Joshua Radin - We Were Here CD Review

Joshua Radin - We Were Here CD Cover

© Columbia Records
Remember this moment. This is the first time you’ve heard about cabaremo. It’s a new musical style and, since noone else is talking about it, let’s go ahead and claim it for the folk world.

If you don’t understand, you’re not alone. When I asked singer/songwriter Joshua Radin if he identifies as a folksinger, he said, "Yes, sort of like alterna-folk," before pausing for a moment. “How about cabaremo?” What does that mean? "Like a combination of cabaret and emo."

Joshua Radin - We Were Here

If you listen to Radin’s Columbia Records debut, We Were Here, a slew of folksingers may come to mind: Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and Cat Stevens, all of whom he counts among his strongest influences.

You may not know Radin’s name, but chances are you’ve heard his work. His songs have appeared all over television in shows like Brothers and Sisters, Greys Anatomy, and Scrubs. In fact, it was Scrubs that helped Radin get his start.

From Screenwriter to Songwriter

Long story short, Radin’s had a whirlwind couple of years. It all started in the West Village of New York City, when he was focusing on being a painter and a screenwriter. Then, one day, he was asked to host an open mic night. He couldn’t possibly host an open mic without having a song to perform; so he wrote one. That song—Winter—was extraordinarily well-received.

Encouraged by the success of the song, Radin passed a demo on to his pal and former schoolmate (and star of Scrubs), Zach Braff. Braff passed the tape to his show’s producers, and that scored Radin a sound byte on the show.

Since then, He hasn't "been doing anything but playing music."

He moved to Los Angeles after trying his time in the New York scene. "[I didn’t find] as much of a community of songwriters in New York. Everyone sounded like the Strokes. But there’s a great community of artists in Los Angeles," he says. "It’s just easier in L.A., because all the music supervisors are there."

Making Music on TV

He’s referring, of course, to the folks who handle placing music in television and movies. "Film is the new radio," he says and laughs.

This is probably why he pauses when considering his place in the folk music world. Indeed most folk artists never even get mentioned on television, much less find their work featured in the background of TV shows that feature Zach Braff.

But Radin’s music makes perfect sense in the background. After all, it’s pretty quiet stuff. The volume of his work is something he attributes to his neighbor in New York. "I would just start fingerpicking on my guitar and she would call the police," he says. “That’s kind of why I called that record We Were Here, because the cops would show up and they’d kind of look around and then call the neighbor and say, "Well, we were here. We didn’t find any problem, but we were here.'"

It works, though. Like other hushed artists—Jose Gonzalez, Elliot Smith, Iron and Wine—Radin’s work can stand strongly in the background and in the fore. So, whatever he wants people to call his music, the bottom line is that it's good, it's quiet, and you can take it with you anywhere.

When I asked him if there's anything he wants the world to know, Radin replied, "Just that they should go do Schuyler Fisk's music on MySpace." So here's the link.

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