Roses, Thorns, And Ophelia

Josh Savage’s Debut EP Combines The Sauve of Britpop With Canonical Literary Allusions

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It’s an exciting time for Josh Savage. An up-and-coming singer-songwriter with a flair for incorporating literary concepts into his music, Josh is in the wake of releasing his latest EP, Quatre Épines, into public ears.

“I use song writing as means to get things off my chest,” he tells us. “My song writing is very honest.”

Brought up in Paris, and then educated at York University in the UK, Josh is coming at music from a very classical background, and this is evident in his song writing. This is music that aims to please, and we are instantly invited to embrace its openness.

Dripping with sickeningly sweet harmonies, Quatre Épines comes across as a bright blush on the cheeks of an intimate friendship. Emotions are as damp as Josh’s hair as in the music video, where the pouring rain is illustrative of romantic excess. As Josh’s female collaborator walks into the river still in her dress we are reminded of the literary overtones, of Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Josh here has chosen to follow Everett Millais’ Pre-Raphaelite painting, Ophelia’s Flowers, which depicts the Shakespearean character floating on the surface just before her death. An unusual choice: Ophelia is almost never depicted in the water. “The music video was inspired by this concept,” Josh affirms. “It was Siobhan Cox who came up with the concept. I really love her work, and I knew she’d do a good job.”

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As Josh is now on tour around the UK, we found some time to chat with him about his work:

The Plus: How did you start getting into music making?
Josh Savage:
I was classically trained in music when I grew up in Paris learning the piano, trumpet and singing in choirs. When I moved to Winchester at 12 years old, I was introduced to the British bands like Coldplay and Snow Patrol and that’s what inspired me to write songs when I was 15.

TP: What inspired the idea of Quatre Épines?
JS:
I was doing a music degree at the University of York where I needed to write an album for my final project. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the lyrics I was writing at the time. So I was like, how do I submit an album and not get the lyrics marked? So I wrote it in French.
I’ve re-recorded my favourite songs from that album and decided to release it officially as an EP. It’s inspired by my favourite book Le Petit Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery and the characters in the book. For Quatre Épines (which means ‘Four Thorns’), it refers to the rose that lives on the Little Prince’s planet.

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TP: How was it to work with the woman in the music video? How much input did she have in its creation?
JS:
Aimee’s a good friend of mine from Winchester and a really successful up and coming actress. She had no input and I was like: “Aimee can you be in my music video and jump into a river? Oh… and you might have to kiss me a few times.” To which she said: “Cool.” She was an absolute star.

TP: What (or who) are your musical and artistic influences?
JS:
My Grandpa’s a big influence, he subconsciously mutters poetry to himself and he introduced me to W. B. Yeats and Samuel Beckett. Music wise, I’m really into Bear’s Den, Bonobo, Ólafur Arnalds and Yann Tiersen.

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TP: How is your personality reflected in your musical style?
JS:
I’m not sure really. I guess my multi-cultural and multi-genre background in classical, jazz and Britpop is incorporated in my style.

TP: What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
JS:
Sleep (I’ve done over 100 shows this year), moving to London and potentially working on my debut album!

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