He used to describe his musical style as the love child of Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. Now, Joshua Sade James opts for “a gay Macklemore who can sing.”
The evolution can be heard on the Kitchener native’s upcoming EP, entitled JSJ.
All Fall Down, James’ latest single from JSJ, was written in his later college years, reflecting on a romantic but toxic relationship he was in at the time. The song was written after he and his boyfriend had broken up for the second time.
“We’d tell each other the truth, but we would tell it in a way that it would make the other feel bad. It became this push-and-pull relationship of dishonesty and mistrust. By the time we finally revealed the truth to each other, there were so many lies surrounding it that we both crumbled.
“We all fell down in that relationship,” said James.
Written in 12/8 time, the song was intended to be “a carnival merry-go-round about a creepy, sad drunk clown that goes to his old place of work and wishes he was still employed because it was the best job he’s ever had.”
All Fall Down is the only song that was written in the past and the only original recording on the new EP. While it was not intended to be released as a single, James received a grant from the regional arts fund, which helped expand the project.
“I was lucky enough to receive five-grand from them to do this. I used some of that money to buy a new laptop, which gave me access to garage band,” said James, noting he spent his time reworking more recent songs.
James says the other songs in the collection are ‘funkier.’ The second track, for instance, displays a funk-pop style “that will make you want to dance… or cry – they are usually my go-to emotions.”
James has always had a fascination and love for music. Son of Canadian country artist Jamie Warren, James spent a great deal of time on the road as a child. The first song he ever wrote was at nine years old to impress his father, a tune called My Heart Ran Away to Timbuktu.
“My dad would always try to teach us guitar, make us take piano lessons and find ways to incorporate music into our lives. Now 20 years later, both my sister and I have an EP [out] – he did his job right.”
Around the age of 14, James began singing in public, and was bullied for singing Keith Urban songs and being able to hit the high notes. He began singing at coffeehouses and then joined KW Glee, which “brought me out of my shell and kind of set me on the path that I want to do music or theatre or both.” Afterwards, he joined Kitchener-Waterloo Musical Productions (KWMP), followed by more Glee and then an audition for Sheridan College’s musical theatre program, renowned in the theatre world and known as one of the best in Canada. After auditioning twice, he was successfully able to get in and achieve a degree in musical theatre. Since graduation, he has participated in theatre productions and performed concerts.
Live performances are on hold just now, of course. As with others, James is dealing with the lockdown, noting the situation can bring with it loneliness, anxiety and depression – conditions some people may be experiencing for the first time.
“Almost every morning I try to wake up, I’ll say [this] on my Instagram story, and Facebook: ‘I want everyone to know, that you are worthy, you are loved, and you a perfectly you,’” he said, noting it’s a message he sends to himself, as well.
Such issues can be especially prevalent in the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly in rural areas.
“Start googling the LGBTQ community and learn more about who you are and where this community comes from, and the struggles we’ve had to endure,” James suggests. “It’s kind of wild that may still feel ostracized in our rural community, but If we google things like Stone Wall, there were huge riots and police raids – people had to fight to be in private spaces with other queer people.”
James is open to people looking for support and communication about rainbow community issues to message him. What helped James was “trying to find people like you in your community so you don’t feel stigmatized.”
He also recommends taking on new hobbies and trying creative things that will keep your brain busy. For James, he has started collecting wildflowers, started making canvases out of dried flowers, and started baking and dying his hair.
“This isn’t forever, it is very serious, and the virus can still mutate, but this isn’t forever.”