St. Louis-based talent That One Eyed Kid (Josh Friedman) is back with a stunning new track titled “No Touching”. Before you are driven away by the title of the song, we need you to know this isn’t one of those “make room for Jesus” scenarios. It’s a sultry, beautiful track that showcases the shit out of Friedman’s vocal range, as well as his percussion prowess. If you don’t get what we mean, you should listen to our exclusive premiere of it. “No Touching” will become an instant favorite.
Oh, and we got to interview him about the track, his inspiration, and… snowflakes? Check it out below!
Did you have an “a-ha” moment when you realized music was your calling?
Writing and playing music has always been a bit of a compulsion for me… if I don’t play piano or write or produce for a couple of days I start getting really cagey, so that always feels like I get little “a-ha” moments all the time. I think the first time I got to play a piece I wrote on piano at a recital was a big one. I just remember thinking “I could just play songs I write every day and that’d make me happy.”
Do you think that being from St. Louis has any bearing on your sound or how you approach your art?
Absolutely. I grew up in the suburbs so I had a pretty standard suburban upbringing. There wasn’t a ton of music or art in my life then, but in high school I started playing in the city in a prog band and this whole experimental-music world opened up to me. I hadn’t seen anything like that in the suburbs, it felt like all the cool, weird people making art were doing that in the city. I was a big experimental/prog nerd for a while, experimentation and improvisation are big parts of my creative process and that’s firmly rooted in my experience playing in prog shows in St. Louis city.
How would you sum up or describe your sound?
I’d like to think it’s my little snowflake of sound that no one else does but that’s probably wishful thinking. In reality it’s just a distillation of every artist I’ve ever loved and then me attempting not to rip them off too blatantly haha. My biggest influences have been Passion Pit, Miike Snow, M83, James Blake, Bon Iver, a little Ben Folds… it’s all over the place but they all come through in my material. I try and hone all that into something like “Alternative-Pop.”
You have a tendency to write from very personal, emotional places. What specifically inspired your new track “No Touching”?
“No Touching” was actually the seventh song I’d written as part of a song-a-week challenge. Creatively I was feeling kinda stuck and wanted to push myself to just write a ton without editing (I can be a little ruthless in my self-criticism). So that kinda freed me up to explore a bit more sonically and lyrically. I had gotten in a bike accident that week, this truck made a right turn and didn’t see me… I had to roll off the bike as it was getting dragged by the front wheels of the truck. I was totally fine but if I had let go a couple seconds later I’d probably been seriously injured, maybe dead.
So needless to say I was feeling a ton of shock and disassociation that week, it took me a while to come to terms with how close I’d been to dying. That’s always been a theme in my stuff from having cancer but this was so fresh and immediate. I wanted to write something about feeling removed from my emotions and being desperate to connect again. It was sort of an exercise in self-healing… every time I perform it I try and connect back to something I’m feeling estranged from.
“No Touching” is absolutely beautiful. The slow builds and instrumental changes speak to your talent, and the vocals are smooth at the same time, almost tying it all together like vibrantly colored thread. Is there a singular aspect of the track that is your favorite or that you think makes it a stand out single?
Oh wow thanks! I think the separation in the lyrics for the chorus (no-tou-ching) always feels fresh to me. The drums in the verse too, that’s one of the cooler rhythm things I’ve ever written and Kyle Harris just nails it on the recording, he’s phenomenal.
What was the production process like for this song?
I had the demo finished in December 2015 and kept tweaking it until we tracked drums, bass, and guitar that May at a studio in Boston (Record Co.) We wanted to get a liveliness to the track for the verses so that’s where the band came in. Adam (producer) and I worked on vocals at this house in Providence, RI and tracked a ton of vintage synths at a studio in New Hampshire. It was a total patchwork thing but I’m really satisfied with how it pieced together.
I guess that makes us wonder more about grand scale.. what is your writing process like? Does it come to you fully formed, or is the composition a big process?
It’s a big process… I almost never get a fully formed idea at once, I’m really envious of people that do. I’m a tinkerer, I’ll oscillate from just coming up with lyrics or chords and the next day spend hours focusing on a drum tone or vocal inflection… writing always feels like a workout to me but it’s a labor of love.
What has been your favorite story to tell through your music so far?
Ha well I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite but the most meaningful stories are the ones that explore things I’m uncomfortable with. “No Touching” is really personal, every time I play it live it helps me connect and release something really primal, it’s hard to articulate. The imagery and the flow of the narrative in that song feels particularly special to me.
Tell us something we can’t Google about you.
I can still recite the first 6 lines of my Bar Mitzvah Torah portion by memory. Thanks for such great, insightful questions, I had a blast. Much love <3
Keep up with That One Eyed Kid here.