"I was never truly happy until I moved to Nashville" Josh Kiser told me during our interview. Growing up just outside of Chattanooga in Cleveland Tennessee , Kiser’s path to country music is an interesting and heartwarming one. Growing up loving the song stylings of Travis Tritt, The Eagles and Otis Redding, Josh defined himself more as a fan than a singer/songwriter. Between playing a gig at a friends birthday party, finding himself through songwriting and some sort of devine intervention, Kiser has found happiness, community and passion amoungst the Nashville noise. But Josh Kiser rises above the noise brining his own flair and charisma to his lyrically humbling songs. Backed by a country gruff that packs a punch, Josh Kiser is bring country back to country music.
Growing up with music big in your house, or did it seem to kind of find you in a different way?
Music was definitely a big part of my whole family. My grandmother her brothers and sisters had a gospel quartet. My grandma always played piano in the house or had music on somewhere. So definitely a big part of my life early on. Did I ever think I would get into it? Absolutely not. There was a turning point in my life where I think it just kind of fell into where I find myself now. I think that I'm really fortunate to be where I'm at and you
Who inspires you musically?
Definitely Travis Tritt and The Eagles. Growing up I really liked Ray Charles and Otis Redding. I’m more of like an easy listener, I like deep thought lyric, so anything Dean Dylan has his pen in, I would 100% listen to it. I never really listened to anything modern. I don't remember being into any sort of modern music until I got into high school. Hanging out with the boys, they all would listen to like Jason Aldean or Luke Bryan. Some of their first albums were staples.
Looking back on it, I may or may not put little bit of Jason in the song choices that we have that I've been writing. I'm really trying to bring back that 90s sound with my own little twist.
What sparked your passion for songwriting?
I think what sparked it was just growing up and learning life lessons and trying to figure it all out. I never could wrap my head around how guys could write songs. I never really even tried, you know? I think it was maybe senior year high school and I tried to write a song. I was always really good in creative writing and poetry. I think that along the way, through hurt and trial, life just kind of navigates you in the way that you're supposed to go.I think that everything that I've been through, I've lived 28 different lives. I think everything that I've been through is definitely more mature than my generation as far as that goes.
I really pride myself in digging deep into the lyric trying to connect with the listener because I don't want my fans to think, “Hey, you know, Josh's got great songs, but they're vanilla lyrics.” I want them to genuinely listen to the words, and then connect a melody with a memory. That's a big thing for me. You've got five seconds or ten seconds to connect with somebody immediately for them to want to listen to the rest of your songs.
I think I've grown a hell of a lot when it comes to to writing. I can't wait to grow more. I'm really hard on myself and you can ask anybody who knows me. I never think that it's good enough and I'm always gonna push for more. I take criticism very, very, very well. I'm going to find the negative in it and try to fix it. it's fun for me to get in rooms with veteran writers and truly learn from them.
I'm really passionate about writing especially in my own material.
What was your turning point? When did you know you were more than a fan, you were an artist?
I found myself absolutely hating every bit of everything that I ever did. But I found myself in a good spot and started playing guitar and piano again. Then a buddy of mine heard me singing on someone’s phone one day. I think I had been singing at church. While we were at the gym, my friend asked me to sing at his birthday party. I has never really done a gig. But I though I would try it. Somebody My friends wife went to college with Nathan Chapman at Lee University, which is where I'm from in Cleveland. My friend told me that Nathan wants to meet you like Monday, can you meet with him? So I go meet with Nathan. We talk and kind of playing some songs and stuff like that. I got a phone call about probably an hour and a half later from Nathan offering me a deal and telling me I should move to Nashville.
We picked up the life and moved. I never was happy until I moved to Nashville.
I never really truly found who I was until I moved. I wouldn't never go back. Absolutely not. I love my family there and stuff like that. But when you find that turning point, you never want to go back to what it was. Thats when I knew that music was for me.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned since moving to Nashville?
Ive definitely grown musically and with songwriting since I’ve been here. Before I moved, I had killer job and was making good money and I quit and knocked on every door, downtown Nashville and just started playing. I think that that changed my perspective. It changed me to be more thankful that I’m able to do what I'm able to do, reach the people I'm able to reach and just have fun with life.
You had the opportunity to go out on the road with Drake White in 2021. What was the biggest thing that you've learned from?
Drake is a nose to the grindstone never quit kind of guy. I've been blessed to have him in my corner. I think that the biggest thing I took away from that is to never give up. To always push no matter the circumstance. The guy learned to walk again and play guitar again. Drake is the staple of overcoming adversity. I think that I he definitely gave me a perspective on don't ever quit.
In Nashville, it is very easy for you to get there. It's a 10 year town, I'm two and a half years into it. I feel like my my time here has been very well spent. But sometimes you get in your head. Nashville’s a love, hate thing. There are times I'll be honest with you, where I'm like, I don't want do this anymore. I'm done. Then there's times where I'm living high on the hog, and I’m getting open for Drake. He has just been a big mentor and hero to me.
How do you define country music?
I define country music as a place to not only be yourself and love yourself, but a place to connect to people in the places that you've been before and the places that you're going. There’s a lot that country music stands for. And for me, it's all about healing. It's all about the songs about heartbreak and drinking too much beer one night and getting in a fight with your own lady. I think country music is, about forgiveness and it's about learning. It is my life, I just couldn't be more thankful to be a part of it, for sure.
What is next for you in 2022?
So we're looking at putting out a EP, I think it's either end of February or early March. It's going be two more songs, along side Whiskey Wins and Big on the Little Things. gonna add in whiskey wins and bigger little things with it. The new songs I love playing them because I watch people two step to it and that's kind of my thing. One song is more about what I miss about my hometown and what makes “country” country. And the other is a good feeling, driving down backroads kind of song. I'm a pretty big advocate about keeping country country.
Im excited to play more private gigs and get to play the songs I love and not be a human jukebox. Im excited to get back on the road and have some more music videos and music for y’all. 2022 will be great!