In the last few years, Josh Dorr has released a five-song EP with Sony Music Nashville, written hits with hit songwriters like Eric Paslay, Josh Osborne, Kyle Jacobs, Ryan Hurd, Matt Rogers and many more. In December, he released his first independent EP “Sundancer,” that in our opinion, contains his best work yet. CMchat spoke to the 30-year-old Wyoming native about his music, songwriting, influences, and the brand new single—that we’re predicting will be a smash—“Ready Or Not”
How did you end up pursuing music, and why country?
“Well, I wasn’t really planning on pursuing music growing up and didn’t start pursuing it until I moved to Nashville in 2010. I got an internship in Wyoming that sent me to Nashville. I then fell in love with songwriting and started writing songs, so I quit school and stayed there. Growing up in Wyoming, it was a country lifestyle. I was born with country all around me.”
Who were your favorite artists growing up?
“Dwight Yoakam, Garth Brooks, George Strait and Brooks & Dunn.”
What do you think is the biggest misconception people may have about country music?
“I think it’s ridiculous when people– the ‘haters’ I guess you could say when it comes to bro-country and all that– get mad and say what sounds country and what doesn’t. The thing is every artist in every genre pushes their own boundaries. It’s a big world and there’s room for everyone’s music and if you don’t like somebody’s, just change the channel.”
How have things changed from being with a major record label like Sony and to, now, being an independent act?
“I think things have changed in terms of the money and support you get from being on a giant label like that. But the positive thing about being independent is that I have full control over what I want to do. Like, I can record whatever songs I want to record, and have full control over my career. If I want to do something, I don’t have to ask permission to do things- which I’m not good at doing anyway. (laughs) So yeah, they both have their ups and downs.”
One advice you’d give to people wanting to enter the country music industry?
“Nashville is a tough place to make things happen for you, so you gotta be patient. It’s super hard but you gotta keep grinding, writing and practicing every day. Ultimately, people can say whatever they want about you, but if you make good music, the music will speak for itself. The likelihood of something happening overnight or even the first couple of years is pretty unrealistic. So just keep your head down and keep grinding– you’ve just gotta keep doing that until you get your turn.”
Let’s talk about the “Sundancer” EP (produced by Marshall Altman) that you released at the end of last year and some of the tracks!
“Ready or Not” (Josh Dorr, Ryan Hurd)
This, I feel, is your best-released song to date. It’s lyrically impeccable and just heart-wrenching in the best way possible. To me, this song encapsulates what country music is—life in the form of a song.
“I appreciate that, because I’ve been fighting for that song for four to five years, and that song is what got me my record deal. Sony heard it when I was waiting tables at restaurants and they called me to chat. What started that whole process really was ‘Ready Or Not‘, so I knew it was a special song. And yeah, it’s one of the best-written songs I have. I hope it gets pushed out to the world because it does affect people who listen to it and so many people who have heard it has reached out to me. The song’s just about the unconditional love. Sometimes we write love songs that are all about the good fun things that happen, and nobody really likes to talk about the hard stuff anymore because radio wants an uptempo song. But, country music was born off those songs. And that’s why I’m trying to incorporate some of that into my music as well.”
“I Need A Highway” (Josh Dorr, Kyle Jacobs, Dave Turnbull)
I love the idea of this song and how the guy, in the pursuit of his “crazy dreams” too, wants to chase down the romantic dream he and his sweetheart share.
Production is pretty awesome too. And writing with Kyle Jacobs, who wrote cuts from Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw! How did this song come about?
“We were actually at a songwriting retreat at this place called Evins Mill, in the basement of an old mill house, just hanging out on the couch and talking. Either Dave or Kyle brought up this hook, ‘man, I need a highway’, and we were trying to hook it. And I think it might’ve been me that came up with, you know, ‘to get back to you, I need a highway’. At first, we weren’t sure if that was a cool way to hook the song or if it was too easy, but once we wrote the rest of the chorus, we were like ‘dude, that’s really good!’ So this has been one of my favorite songs that I put on the record.”
Sundancer (Josh Dorr, Adam Hambrick)
It’s such a great, laid-back love song that’s also the EP title track.
Could you share more about the inspiration behind this song? Why did you choose to name your EP after this song?
“My girlfriend and I were at a beach in Alabama. I remember it was a cold day, but she was just so pumped and happy to be on the beach, acting like a kid and as if it was 80 degrees and all sunshine. So I wrote ‘Sundancer‘, which is like a nice little bow on top of the project because we have been dating for a while and all these songs had this build-up of wanting to be in love, or being in love, and all the hard stuff of ‘Ready Or Not‘, ‘I Need A Highway‘ is kind of little tipping your hat to all the people who believe in you back home while you’re out on the road and the ones that are waiting for you when you come back. So, the EP is like a nice natural progression that ends on ‘Sundancer.'”
You also have a great cut on Jordan Davis’ record called “Selfish”. Tell us more about it.
“Jordan, Jason Gantt and I are signed to the same publishing company for songwriting. We were out on the bus and Jordan was playing in Chicago. So whenever we get to the venue, we usually set up in the morning and write songs after, before each other’s shows. During that day’s writing session, I had some lyrics that I wrote before, and Jason, who does production stuff, started playing a track. I was flipping through all the different pages on my notebook and had the opening line written down, which just said: ‘I’m a bad man, a Steve McQueen, a James Dean straight out the badlands.’ It was funny because Jordan is from New Orleans and he was like ‘damn, that’s super cool’, and so we just collaborated on it together. Everybody had a good third on this!”
Let’s do some fun questions now that all the hard stuff is out of the way!
If you could skydive with any country singer, who would it be and why?
“I think it’d be funny to go skydiving with Dolly Parton!”
What’s one food people love that you just can’t understand?
“For all that I’ve tried, no olives! I just can’t stand ‘em!”
What’s one hidden quirk or talent of yours that many don’t know?
“Man… I really don’t have a whole lot of talents that many don’t know of. Sometimes I can do voice impressions depending on who it is, but I just grew up trying to mimic sounds every now and then but I’m not very good at it. But dude, other than that, I don’t have any!”