Joshua Radin: 'I fell into fame'

By Greg Cochrane and Natalie Jamieson
Newsbeat entertainment reporters

Published

The Ohio-born songwriter shot to fame via a series of appearances on US dramas, played at an entertainment mogul's wedding and gave his record label all their money back.

Image source, Not Specified
Image caption, Joshua Radin began making music 6 years ago

When Joshua Radin played his friend and actor Zach Braff (Scrubs) a demo of the one song he'd written, he couldn't have imagined what happened next.

"It was on a TV show three weeks after I wrote it," he shrugs. "I wasn't trying to be a musician as a career - I sort of fell into it that way."

The call had arrived from the producers of Scrubs. Suddenly the ears of producers across the American networks pricked up.

"The next song I wrote Grey's Anatomy used and another and another," he laughs in disbelief.

"All of a sudden I'd written four songs and I had something like a 100,000 plays on MySpace. The audience found me - rather than me looking for an audience."

His musical adventure had begun steam-rolling and he'd only actually played one gig. An open mic night in NYC's West Village where he played covers of Bob Dylan, Elliot Smith and Nick Drake.

After that initial blast of exposure shows like One Tree Hill, Brothers And Sisters and 90210 all used his tracks.

'Terrified'

In 2004 things were changing fast for Radin. He'd recently split up with his long-term girlfriend - the reason he picked up a guitar, learnt to play and write songs.

Image source, Not Specified
Image caption, Radin releases second album Simple Times in April in the UK

Unsurprisingly, it all came as a bit of a shock.

"I was terrified," he says. "I didn't grow up as a performer.

"I grew up as a painter and I was a screen writer for a period of time. I never was the type of person that needed applause."

"You see the kids on X Factor and you can tell they came out of the womb with jazz hands. I was terribly shy."

Following Scrubs and Grey's Anatomy Radin's profile was fast-growing.

He compiled his debut album We Were Here and put it up on iTunes. Having gone top 20, it started a bidding war, with the country's biggest record labels all asking, as he says, 'Who is this guy?'.

He signed with Columbia and subsequently made second album Simple Times - only for the label to ask him to change it.

"I turned in the record but Rick (Rubin, legendary producer and co-head of Columbia ) goes 'Yeah, we love the record but we don't hear a top 40 radio hit on it'.

Image source, AP
Image caption, Radin played at US talk show host Ellen Degeneres's wedding

"I was like, yeah, I know, I didn't make one. You have John Mayer. I don't want to be John Mayer.

"They said we're not going to release a record unless we know it is going to sell a million, and the only way to do that is to have a top 10 radio hit.

"I just said no. I gave them all their money back and found an indie label in the states." Simple Times then went top 40 on the American Billboard chart.

Wedding singer

Radin continued to find himself in alien situations.

In May 2008 Ellen Degeneres - judge on American Idol, stand-up comedian and American darling - asked Radin to play at her wedding to partner Portia de Rossi.

"There was like candles everywhere and 20 people, her family, in a living room and I'm standing there with my guitar playing these songs," he recalls.

"One of the biggest, most powerful women in entertainment is looking up at you crying. And you're like, 'I hope I don't forget this lyric'.

"After that I got offers everyday - but I was like, 'I'm not a wedding singer'."

Indeed Radin turned down a chance to play at actress Catherine Heigl's ceremony because it was held on Christmas day.

Much to his embarrassment he bumped into Heigl during her honeymoon in Mexico.

"I was on vacation and we ran into each other and she was like, 'You said you were going to be around? Why didn't you come and play at my wedding?'"

Increased 'exposure'

After all that musical success thanks to the producers of some of television's most watched dramas, Radin's not ashamed of reaching new fans through lending his songs.

"The exposure you get, those shows air everywhere around the world," he says, rejecting any notion of 'selling out'.

"I was thinking about it and then I just saw Bob Dylan in a Victoria's Secret ad. The (Rolling) Stones were in a Microsoft ad. The Beatles are on ads.

"Any artist that says no (to that exposure), it's like really? Are you going to be more precious with your songs than the Beatles? Than Bob Dylan?'"

Joshua Radin's album Simple Times is released on 12 April.

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