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Josh Eagle talks about creativity in sobriety on his new album, 'Let's Just Make Something Beautiful'

This week on Kaleidoscope, Josh Eagle joined WYSO music director Juliet Fromholt to discuss his forthcoming album, Something Beautiful, which is set to be released in March. Two singles from the album, “My Little Town” and “Fire and the Fog,” came out on January 12, and Eagle plans to release two more songs from the album every other Friday until March. He also premiered two unreleased singles, “Oceans,” and “Glue Sniffers,” live on Kaleidoscope. In the interview, Eagle talked about moving back to his home state of Ohio, finding musical community in Columbus, and recording the new album. He also talked about his sobriety, a theme on Let's Just Make Something Beautiful.

“There can be a way of thinking that musicians need to have this deep burn inside of them to be able to really feel things and to apply it to their art,” he said. “But I thought the same thing and, well, it turns out it's the exact opposite.”

Josh Eagle began honing Let's Just Make Something Beautiful after moving to Columbus in 2021. After years in the coastal hubs of New York City and LA, returning to the Midwest was a welcome change of pace for the Cincinnati native. “Living in New York, I never really felt grounded, I never really felt like I was a part of it,” he said. “I’m glad I did it, but I don’t think that it was me at the core of who I am. California was very much the same.”

In Columbus, Eagle began working with his friend Will Egor, a multi-instrumentalist and producer whose backyard Cowboy Studios have become Eagle’s creative headquarters. With unrestricted access to Cowboy Studios, Eagle began recording “quarter songs, half songs,” layering guitars and penning lyrics as he went. The dreamy soundscapes Eagle was producing were a sonic departure from his 2019 album, Clockwork Radio, a more “straightforward” rock album recorded with his band, The Harvest City. “Years go by, and you listen to new music, and you’re into stuff that you never thought you were into, and you sort of realize who you are more and more as human beings in this world,” he told Juliet.

Eagle says his move to Columbus has also marked the beginning of his sobriety, a shift that has improved both his quality of life and his musical drive. “I would say that staying up for multiple days at a time doesn't really help with the amount of scribble and [lack of] structure for a song,” he joked. “It gets pretty out there.” Eagle says he understands why many musicians turn to drugs and alcohol to try to boost creativity—he’s tried it. But he told Juliet that sobriety has allowed him to find a healthier, and more sustainable, kind of focus.

“You have a much more regimented and honest way of working [in sobriety]. I think alcohol and drugs took that away. It may have worked for a little bit, but eventually you’ve got to be able to confront your beast and to really understand who it is that you want to be in the world and what you have to be able to conquer and work through, versus around, to be that.”

Many of the songs on Let's Just Make Something Beautiful reflect Eagle’s journey of substance abuse and sobriety. He told Juliet that “Oceans,” which is slated for release on Friday, January 26th, is about overcoming feelings of self-hatred:

“For a long time I really wanted to be good, but then felt deep down that I wasn't being good, whether it was to myself or to my community, and I had that constant inner battle with what is good and what is bad. And, getting sober, I felt like that I now have the ability to really love as deeply as possible. And that's myself and that's others—and not just people in my circle at that time, but soon to come. There's the metaphor of oceans as something that's so deep, love that is as deep as an ocean and wanting to be in tune with that—whether it's having a family or having a wife or continuing to love myself. And if you want that, you now can have that.”

Josh Eagle’s Let's Just Make Something Beautiful will be released in early March. Until then, two singles from the album will be made available every other Friday; the next release will be on January 26. Updates about his music are available at @josheaglelovesyou on Instagram.

Text by Peter Day, adapted from a live interview by Juliet Fromholt from January 17, 2024.

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Juliet Fromholt is proud to be music director at 91.3FM WYSO. Juliet began volunteering at WYSO while working at WWSU, the student station at her alma mater, Wright State University. After joining WYSO's staff in 2009, Juliet developed WYSO’s digital and social media strategy until moving into the music director role in 2021. An avid music fan and former record store employee, Juliet continues to host her two music shows, Alpha Rhythms and Kaleidoscope, which features studio performances from local musicians every week. She also co-hosts Attack of the Final Girls, a horror film review podcast.
Peter Day writes and produces stories for WYSO’s music department. His works include a feature about Dayton's premiere Silent Disco and a profile of British rapper Little Simz. He also assists with station operations and serves as fill-in host for Behind the Groove. Peter began interning at WYSO in 2019 and, in his spare time while earning his anthropology degree, he served as program director for Yale University’s student radio station, WYBC.