Josh Fix is a South African-born American singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer.In 2008 Fix released his self-produced debut album "Free At Last", which saw limited distribution but nevertheless garnered praise in the press,...
Josh Fix is a South African-born American singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer.In 2008 Fix released his self-produced debut album "Free At Last", which saw limited distribution but nevertheless garnered praise in the press, and, among other accolades, found itself on Time Out New York's "Best Rock Albums of 2008" list. Associate Editor Hank Shteamer called Fix a "post-Radiohead Elton John [who] obliterated slacker chic with a virtuosically glossy piano-pop opus."
Fix's most recent release, a mini-album "This Town Is Starting To Make Me Angry" (2009) was released in Europe through British indie label Lojinx.
In 2009 he wrote the official theme for And Another Thing..., the sixth installment of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "trilogy".
The song "Barely Insane" was used in the Season 2 episode of 90210 "And Away They Go".
Time Out New York: "Best Rock Albums Of 2008" by Time Out New York This Bay Area Renaissance man (imagine a post-Radiohead Elton John) obliterated slacker chic with a virtuosically glossy piano-pop opus. -Hank Shteamer, Assoc. Music Ed.
Best Music Of 2008, East Bay Express by East Bay Express San Francisco's answer to Queen and Elton John, Josh Fix is a one-man retro machine. Fix is flawless on vocals, guitar, bass, piano, percussion, and a heckuva lot more across this sophomore record,...
Time Out New York: "Best Rock Albums Of 2008" by Time Out New York This Bay Area Renaissance man (imagine a post-Radiohead Elton John) obliterated slacker chic with a virtuosically glossy piano-pop opus.
-Hank Shteamer, Assoc. Music Ed.
Best Music Of 2008, East Bay Express by East Bay Express San Francisco's answer to Queen and Elton John, Josh Fix is a one-man retro machine. Fix is flawless on vocals, guitar, bass, piano, percussion, and a heckuva lot more across this sophomore record, which he also produced, co-engineered, and designed.
But Fix's genius is in his songwriting. From basic composition to the nitty-gritty of instrumental and vocal arrangements, Free at Last's piano-rock rings true with all the attitude, bombast, and, occasionally, tenderness of his heroes, those relics of the '70s who first introduced cabaret classiness to the unbuttoned joy of rock 'n' roll.
A few bulletproof melodies and snarky lyrics make his modern appeal irrefutable.
Josh Fix: Piano Rock With A Purpose by Keyboard Magazine
“I came to San Francisco straight out of college to work in an investment bank,” says exuberant piano rocker Josh Fix of his less-than-musical introduction to the working world. “The first day I got there, I saw it wasn’t for me. Slowly but surely, I weaned myself from the corporate world.”
Though they weren’t the best of times, Josh’s months in finance helped him find a meaty theme for his monumental debut album, Free At Last, an explosive and layered collection of tunes that brings to mind elements of Elton John, Led Zeppelin, and Queen. “We keep finding ways to unnecessarily complicate our lives, whether we’re bankers or bums,” he explains. “You can’t help but listen to some homeless people arguing when you walk down the street — they have complicated lives, too! Every little song on the album has a slightly different point of view about the modern neurosis we inflict upon ourselves, and we don’t even realize we’re doing it.”
Produced by Josh, Free At Last features a generous helping of piano courtesy of a “rickety little Emerson upright which is probably 100 years old” — even though Josh had a Yamaha C7 grand at his disposal while recording at San Francisco’s Hyde Street Studios. “I was in this anti-establishment state of mind,” he says. “I thought using this beautiful grand piano would be the predictable thing to do. I wanted a grungy feel. The Emerson has a unique sound and we didn’t have to do too much to it in the mix. It recorded naturally punchy. We got a huge sound out of it and we were only using one mic.
“This was the record where we used every part of the buffalo,” Josh says. “We used a Nord Lead, but a lot of the synthy stuff I did in my bedroom at home with a couple different programs — Native Instruments Absynth, IK Multimedia SampleTank, and MOTU MachFive. I didn’t have a huge budget, so anything that I could find laying around in the studio that we thought would be cool, anything I had on my limited Pro Tools rig at home, I tried to play.
“It was a wacky process,” Josh continues, referring to the intense time he spent recording. “We couldn’t have been in the studio for more than two weeks, but we compressed a lot of activity in a short period of time. The days we were there were crazy, like 20 hours a day.” He adds, “My engineer’s wife wanted to kill us!”
Free At Last carries an important message for keyboardists and non-musicians alike. “Don’t put superfluous pressures on yourself!” says Josh. “The reason I wanted to call the album Free At Last, and the reason the cover is an empty suitcase, is to symbolize leaving your baggage, your societal luggage, behind and just going for it.”
ProFile: The Fix Is In by Electronic Musician Magazine With its lush recordings and prominent use of piano and stacked vocals, Josh Fix's Free at Last (1650 Entertainment, 2008) harkens back to the studio production style of 1970s bands like Supertramp and Queen — but with a decidedly modern twist.
A South African native who now calls San Francisco home, Fix says he loves working with today's technology but that his approach to composition is rooted in more-traditional methods. “When I write, I tend to hear most of the finished production already,” he explains. “The studio is not a place for me to experiment with arranging. I studied classical composition in college; when I mess around — with even the littlest, shortest phrase in music — I tend to hear all the parts up and down.”
To capture his initial ideas, Fix put together a relatively modest rig (based on the Korg D-1600 hard-disk recorder) in what he describes as a bedroom closet. “I had no experience as an engineer, but it had a good preamp on it and the built-in effects were really good,” he says. “I think the early demos I made were sounding pretty good to begin with. The first batch of demos actually became an EP [Steinway the Hard Way; Flop of the Century, 2004].”
In fact, one of Fix's early recordings won a local Grammy-sponsored songwriting contest. “Different people were passing the demos around,” he recalls. “I got a call from Lenny Kravitz one day and he liked it. Steve Lukather heard it and started passing it along to his friends, so I started getting calls from Van Halen and Steve Vai — it was really cool! At that point, I thought maybe I should do this seriously.”
When it came time to make his full-length CD, Fix decided to go into a commercial facility, working with engineer Jaime Durr at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco. “I was running around the Bay Area trying to find a place that had a good vibe,” Fix says. “Sitting in the corner of Jaime's studio was an antique Emerson upright piano. I played it and thought, ‘This is going to be the sound of the record!’ I wanted something with an authentic, live sound to it — which might have been a reaction to having to sit in my closet and make electronic demos for four years.”
But Fix's closet days were far from over. Before heading into the studio, he spent a month producing elaborate demos, this time using Pro Tools LE and a Digidesign Mbox (he's now using LE 7.4 and an Mbox 2 Pro). “Basically, every song that was going to be on the album had its own template and tempo,” he explains. “Because I place most of the instruments myself, that turned out to be a good way to work: a lot of what I thought would be scratch parts ended up being the final parts on the record. It's such a weird hybrid of vintage acoustic instruments and amps mixed into this computer world I've become so used to recording in. About 80 to 90 percent of the guitar parts were done in the bedroom using [Native Instruments] Guitar Rig 2.”
Fix built tracks with so many vocal layers that he sometimes pushed the limits of the gear. “We had to open an entirely new Pro Tools session for each song just to be able to fit in all the vocal parts,” he admits. “Some sections have 100 voices doing one little part on top. This technology that lets you record digitally for track after track after track — for me, that's the greatest thing.”
Home base: San Francisco
Sequencer of choice: Digidesign Pro Tools LE
Amp-modeling software: Native Instruments Guitar Rig 2
Fix’s Web site
Fix’s MySpace site
Hyde Street Studios site