We had the good fortune of connecting with Josh Cumbee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Josh, how does your business help the community?
One of my favorite things about making music is the cultural bridges it builds. This year I’ve been privileged to release a collaboration with a Japanese pop star (Vickeblanka), produce for Dominican artist Techy Fatule as a part of Spotify’s EQUAL campaign, work with DJ’s whose careers I greatly admire in the Netherlands, collaborate remotely with new talent in Korea and China, and meet brilliant would-be strangers right here in Los Angeles. It has this magical way of creating a common starting point – we all grew up differently, experienced different cultural norms and educations – but when we hear that one magical melody everyone’s eyes light up at the same time. There’s a common humanity in it that is unmistakably humbling and exciting at the same time.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve always loved that Bruce Lee “Be like water” quote – to me it is about evolving and adapting to fit the space and opportunities life gives you. I never knew you could make a living making music – I went to school for music business and hoped that I could at least spend my life around what I loved in some capacity. My love of music has taken me through both the business and creative sides – from working in licensing and assisting a Grammy-winning producer to making music for the Bachelor, being a vocalist for a song Akon wrote, producing Madonna and performing with Armin Van Buuren in front of 70,000 people.. a wild ride to be sure.
I find good things tend to happen when you cherish the process and expect nothing beyond that satisfaction. I try to focus on always bettering my craft because I believe that people deserve to hear songs that are created with the same level of scrutiny that they might listen to them with. The songs I write for other artists and my own artist project songs in particular are a reflection of whatever I feel like is emotionally and intellectually powerful at the time – until they come out of course and 6 months later I’m thinking over everything I could have done better!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m pretty enamored with LA’s outdoor culture – I think we’re so lucky to live in a city on the water with great weather and so much to do. I’d probably start a morning with breakfast on the pier in Malibu, catch some beach volleyball in the Palisades and roll into Santa Monica or Culver City for some sushi/poke. An afternoon at the Getty would be a must, along with a Nike Missile site hike – talk about an underrated trail. We’d probably need to visit the Arts District for a late afternoon/early evening brewery tour, and at some point in the trip do a dinner at Perch or the Edison – two of my all time favorites. There would also need to be a discussion of the best Poquito Mas (Sherman Oaks by the way), ube pies up at Creme Carmel LA, and the obligatory Salt and Straw mission. At some point during the trip the caloric self loathing would probably push us toward some of the more active sides of LA, perhaps a hot yoga mission or session with a killer trainer (Ethan Smith is unbeatable IMO). And don’t forget the entertainment.. IPIC in Westwood for a film, a little karaoke in K-town, Hotel Cafe for basically anything.. I could go on for days!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have so many people to thank for sending me on this crazy musical journey that has somehow evolved into a career. My parents who made me learn music theory when I didn’t want to practice; my professors at USC that instilled JUST the right amount of cynicism about the music business; my first boss at an internship Deborah Siegel who told me to make music for the company when I didn’t even think I could; Josh Young at Atrium Music who put my songs on the Bachelor while I was moonlight composing and holding a full time day job; my mentor Toby Gad who taught me more about music and life than I thought was possible to learn; my manager and business partner Cyrus Saidi and entire record label team at AVEX, and the person who will eventually read this and educate me on how to properly use the semicolon.
Catie Laffoon, Craig Hung, Matt Doheny, Luke Fontana