Josh Olsen, the former X-Factor contestant and current rising pop singer-songwriter is set to release his debut EP, The Beginning Of The End.
Olsen has been working on this EP for over a year and has been working with Grammy-nominated Bart Schoudel (Camila Cabello, Justin Bieber, Zara Larsson) on the first two singles from the six-track EP.
Olsen has been working to continue establishing himself in the LA song community and has been singing and songwriting his entire life. His talents were fostered by his musically-gifted family, who often spent time writing songs together and performing at their church. In an attempt to hit the ground running after his move from Austin to California he began recording his own music as well as co-writing songs for Fuller House star Juan Pablo Di Pace.
Now standing on his own Olsen is constantly coming up with new music in all places from the shower to his dreams and eager to share it with the world. With the launch of his EP, he pulled back the curtain on what went into writing the songs with a track-by-track for American Songwriter readers.
I Won’t Say I Love You
This album was a collaboration between myself and Bart Schoudel. This was the last song we wrote on the EP. We met in my apartment in Hollywood and we were brainstorming on concepts for songs. All of the other songs on the EP are written about a relationship that I got out of, that wasn’t good for me, but this song was written about how I was feeling starting a new relationship, after getting out of my past one. I was getting to the point in my new relationship that I was feeling like saying those three words, but I was doing everything I could to not let myself. I was afraid of letting someone in because I didn’t want to get hurt again. The song is a play on that. It’s a vulnerable place to be in when you are the first one to say I love you. There is always that chance that the other person doesn’t feel the same way, and in my case, I was doing everything I could to not get hurt again. This song was one of the few that started out on guitar. The melody was written first and then we placed lyrics after. There were definitely a few versions of the song before we shaped it to what it is now.
I was listening to a song called “Lost On You” by an artist named, LP. I loved the production and the concept of the song. She talks about how much she’s lost in loving this person, and it was so spot on to what I had gone through in my last relationship, and Inspired my song, “Never Enough”. Most of us at some point have been in a relationship where we felt like we took a back seat. I was so paralyzed in love in my previous relationship that I was willing to give up everything to make this person happy. In the end, no matter how much I gave my money, time, or energy, it was never enough. The song’s chord progression started on piano, and then we transitioned it over to the guitar where the song really came to life. We wanted the song to have a very chill mysterious vibe, and I think we accomplished that.
All By Myself
I wanted this song to be an anthem of sorts to all those who have ever been stuck in a toxic relationship, and then celebrating their independence from it. In the song, I am finally being honest with myself, and how I feel about the relationship. I am going out and having the realization that I’d rather be out by myself then with the wrong person. It’s a fun song and one of my favorites on the record. We started writing this song to guitar and it took a few writing sessions before we narrowed down a solid melody and lyrics.
We all have trouble letting go sometimes, even when we know someone isn’t good for us. That’s what inspired “Bad Things”. When you fall in love, sometimes you are blind to the bad things, and you put most of your focus on the good things. You find yourself making excuses for the person, even when they are outright wrong, but for some reason, you keep coming back because it’s comfortable. It’s almost as if you crave the abuse this person puts you though. This was the second song of the EP that Bart and I wrote. We were sitting in my living room one night, and I was playing with chord progressions on the keyboard, and for some reason the progression I kept playing was very similar to a song by, Michael Andrews called, “Mad World”. I loved the progression, so we started playing with different melody lines and finally came to one we both liked. It was then time for lyrics, so we both were looking around the room for inspiration. There was a screensaver that came up on my Roku Tv. It was purple, and had a million different scenarios happening all at once. There was a sinking ship, balloons, planes, among many other things, so we somehow used those scenarios as good and bad metaphors in the song. To me this song is the most descriptive on the EP, and I love the clever use of metaphors to describe the battle someone goes through internally when they are trying to figure out if someone is right for them.
Sex With A Stranger
This song is not as promiscuous as it sounds. The song uses the Tile “Sex With A Stranger” as a metaphor to describe the feeling of sleeping next to someone every night, and feeling so distant from that person, that it might as well be a stranger in your bed. They say they want to be with you, but you can’t help but feel they are distant and cold. A lot of times, I find inspiration for my songs from other songs that I am listening to at the time, and one that really resonated with what I was going through with my ex, was “Cold”, by Maroon 5. I love the line in the song “Sleeping up under the covers, how am I so far away from you?” It really described the feeling of sleeping next to someone you thought you knew, and that feeling of distance when the relationship takes a turn for the worst. I definitely used this song as reference for mine. The song was born one night while sitting in a beautiful studio with Bart, and in the studio they had this amazing grand piano. I was feeling really inspired by the atmosphere, so I went and sat down at it and started playing around with chords. I came up with the chord progression and the melody that night, along with a few of the lyrics that sang really well. Later on, Bart and I took the song back to my living room where we added some lyrics and fine tuned everything together. We went back and forth on the right title for the song. Our first idea for the tile was “Is This What You Want”, but we felt like the title “Sex With A Stranger” obviously added a little shock factor to it, and really described the song as a whole in an interesting way.
Love You Enough
This song was the first song that we wrote on the EP. It started out like most on the piano. It was the first time me and Bart had ever written anything together, so for us to create this song at the first go was incredible. Once it was finished, we knew we were onto something. Growing up in Texas, and in a somewhat religious family, there was always this standard that I felt I had to live up to. The standard to get married, buy a home, have children, and go to church every Sunday. Moving to LA made me realize that is not the life that I am meant to live, and while that may disappoint others around me, my job is to not make others happy, but to live my life to the fullest. The song describes no matter how we grow up, or who we are around, the only thing we can do is live our truth. It’s ok to love someone and not always agree with them. The ones we love don’t always understand our decisions, but the most important thing is to love yourself, and stay true to who you are.