Josh Pyke On His New Podcast “It’s Raining Mentors”

The Australian Institute of Music (AIM) has announced an exciting podcast partnership with revered independent musicians Josh Pyke and Elana Stone aptly titled, It’s Raining Mentors. In the initial series of fortnightly podcasts, Josh and Elana have delivered insightful interviews, with crucial insights and refreshing perspectives that every musician and music fan will want to hear. The show delves into the complexities of record labels, booking agents, the live scene and much more in candid discussions with key industry figures.

The first episode, available now from your favourite podcast provider, features special guest Stephen Wade from Select Music, who books some of Australia’s biggest acts including Amy Shark, Baker Boy, and Client Liaison. Josh tells Hi Fi Way more about the podcast.

Congratulations on the podcast, you must be pretty happy with how that’s going?
Yeah, definitely. It was a real pleasure to make, and I feel like people are finding a lot of value in it, which is great, it’s really the purpose.

How did the idea come about? Was it just having a little bit of extra time during this COVID haze that we are still in?
Definitely there was a little bit of that, but it’s a podcast that I’d been wanting to make for a long time and I’d thought about it and have done various little incarnations of it. Then Elana and I, we have been mates for years and years and years, during the first lockdown I did a little online series on my YouTube channel called Chats With Mates. Elana was one of the guests and we just had such a great dynamic in that conversational context. So I thought why don’t we try and do this podcast idea? We made a few pilot versions, and then we approached Australian Institute Of Music who were really keen to get on board and help us finish it off. So it’s been great, it’s been really fun.

I was going to ask how you both met and whether that was just through playing shows together?
We actually went to primary school together, believe it or not. I’m a bit older than her, so we weren’t mates or anything, but I’ve always been mates with her older brother, Jake, who was in the band Blue Juice. So we both grew up in Balmain and we always knew of each other. Throughout the years we’ve done a lot of touring together, we’ve collaborated on a bunch of songs. I co-produced a bunch of her tracks, her most recent tracks. She performed with me on a really popular Like A Version that I did for triple J, a cover of a Jezabel song called Endless Summer and Elana curated on that with me. So we’ve been collaborating for probably fifteen years now.

One thing that is really noticeable on the podcast is that chemistry between both of you, were you surprised with how well things clicked?
No, I wasn’t surprised, that’s like, that was the whole point of getting Elana involved. I think half the battle with hosting something with a co-host is building that rapport and building that chemistry and trust, but we’ve known each other for so long, it’s kind of that’s already there. So that was definitely part of the appeal of doing it.

Are you finding that you’ve got this sort of never-ending list of topics now? I’d imagine that there isn’t a shortage of content?
Oh, one hundred percent man! There’s so many topics we were excited and passionate about covering in future episodes. We’ve only done four episodes, I’m so keen to cover elements like streaming services, co-writing, what rights are inherent in your music like copyright, some of the topics may seem a bit dry, but they’re incredibly important, like performance royalties, recording royalties, understanding your rights as an artist. I want to talk to people about collaboration, what their process is. They’re so much to talk about.

What do you think are some of the significant issues for Australian musicians right now?
Yeah. Streaming is a big one that we want to cover. I think the big issues for emerging artists at the moment is still COVID. I still think the industry’s going to take a couple of years to recover, and for an emerging artist, that’s a really difficult problem because an emerging artist really requires a robust industry to get their own start because their career won’t be robust at the start. By that, I mean at this point, because of the hit everybody’s taken in the industry due to COVID people are like promoters, booking agents and stuff like that are, are less likely to take risks on emerging artists because they’ve been hit so hard over the past couple of years. I think COVID recovery is still a really big one for emerging artists.

Does that sort of place an even greater emphasis on mentoring and stuff like that, particularly for emerging artists, because they’re obviously the next crop of talent that’s going to start coming through?
Yeah, I think so. I feel really passionate about mentoring, I’ve been involved in a lot of mentoring programs and of course I run the JP Partnership Grant which provides funding and mentorship to an emerging artist. I think at this point, like when I started, I really didn’t know anybody to ask and they weren’t podcasts and information online really wasn’t there when I started out. I just want to be part of that conversation and part of the resources that emerging artists can access at their will. I just want to be part of that conversation,

Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel with this Covid haze?
It’s scary. I think for established artists you have the capacity to play some of the larger festivals that are being that are kicking back off and I’ve certainly found that for myself, for emerging artists, it’ll be tough, and I think it’s about probably shifting your focus onto things that are in your control. You really can’t control ticket sales or obviously new waves of COVID cases. So I think the things that you can control is staying productive and also a lot of collaboration. I really believe that for emerging artists creating an online community of associated acts is really the way that they can kind of get through this period and still build a fan base and still bounce off each other for ideas and cross pollination of music and fans, I think that’s a bit of an opportunity now with the young artists, but certainly getting out on the hitting the road would be a really big ask for an emerging artist at this point.

It’s been sad here in Adelaide even for some of the local bands that play here that it hasn’t even been viable for them to play their shows. When you keep seeing these types of acts continue having to postpone and reschedule shows, it just highlights how bad it really is?
Yeah. I mean, I personally had to cancel, I postponed it at first and then I ended up just having to cancel about, I think it was like thirty-six shows in the end last year. Already here in Sydney, I was meant to open up big Toronga Zoo Twilight season, which is a huge event season here in Sydney and they cancelled the whole thing. So it’s definitely hugely challenging. We’re not out of the woods yet, that’s for sure.

It is good to see innovative solutions to try and keep things going like the UniBar setting up a purpose built stage outside in the Cloisters.
Well, yeah, absolutely all around the country. People are passionate about this industry, it really is a passion industry. I think if you entered the music industry in the nineties, you might be sort of attracted to the industry because of money, fame and power. But I think in 2022, there’s not a whole lot of money and stuff that goes along with the music industry. So the people that are involved are really in it, the passion and I played last weekend at the Victoria Hotel in Bathurst and that’s an owner operator couple that run the bar and they’re really putting it on the line. They’re getting out and supporting artists and paying artists to come and play. It’s a big risk and a big gamble, but they’re doing it because they’re passionate about it.

Have you found that you’ve learned a lot about some of the topics that you presented that you didn’t really know much in great detail prior to presenting that?
I’m a bit of an industry nerd, I love reading about all the industry ins and outs. So thus far I haven’t been hugely surprised by the actual sort of content, but what I have been really pleasantly surprised about is just hearing how passionate all these industry people are still about music. Most people within the industry whether or not they work in the business side of it or not, most of them come from a place of having been a performer or having been a serious gig pig back in the days, and that’s been a really refreshing kind of reiteration of what I thought, which is that we’re all in it for the right reasons. I still have big issues with major record labels and I still have big issues with streaming services, but I do believe that at the core of it, the people that are involved in this industry are in it because they love music.

Are there some of the topics that you are game to kind of explore that no one else hasn’t?
Well, I think we really try to talk a lot about inclusion, inclusivity and diversity and particularly when we did these first four episodes, there was a lot going on in the world in terms of treatment of women within the industry, and we’ve not shied away from that at all. So we’ve been really focusing on talking about what kind of a space it is to actually work in for people of diverse backgrounds. That’s something we want to continue to delve into, whether it be talking about people of colour or gender diversity or misogyny within the industry. I think it’s really important to talk about those things, even though it can be a little bit scary.

On a personal front as well, you must be pretty happy that the new album is going to be released next month after the last couple of years, you just must be just proud as punched to be getting that one out?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I feel like because I released Rome in 2020, so it’s two albums in pretty quick succession. I’m calling them my COVID classics because I really love these albums, but I haven’t been able to have the chance to really get out and properly tour them and promote them. So fingers crossed To Find Happiness will be an album that I will be able to do the more traditional route of releasing an album than touring the country on it.

The single, If You Don’t Know Me, Who Am I think is absolutely fantastic. Just when I think we’ve probably seen you best I think you kind of managed to lift the bar again.
Thank you. I know every artist says this, but I feel like this is my best record, and I feel like I’m getting better as a songwriter and producer, I hope it’s reflected in the record.

So are you hoping to be at a tour at some stage this year?
Definitely, yeah. We’ve sort of got it slated for June and all I can say is I’m crossing my fingers and toes and everything else.

Interview By Rob Lyon

Check out “It’s Raining Mentors” on Spotify