Gigslutz Interview: Sophie Adam meets Josh Taerk

After the Canadian release of his debut album Never Look Back in 2011, Josh Tarek, a young singer-songwriter and poet from Toronto quickly became a musical phenomenon in his home country. Now, following up on the success from the album, an ambitions and hopeful Taerk wishes to win over UK audiences by releasing Never Look Back in the UK this October. On a small tour across London to promote his new release, Josh took a bit of time after his gig at The Monarch in Camden to chat to Gigslutz about the genesis of his music career.

Inspired by Bruce Springsteen, Counting Crows and growing up on Rock music, the Americana-Rock signer always knew he has made to be a musician. “I ‘ve been to many Springsteen shows with my Dad. You know, these great songwriters. And growing up around that, music to me has always been something very physical to me and it’s definitely something I try to emulate: it’s the commitment, the passion that comes with the music.” Says Taerk.

“ So I really believe everyone needs follow their passions and that you really have to listen to your heart because life is too short to dedicate yourself to something that you’re just not emotionally involved in. I had this opportunity to go to Business School in London, Ontario. So I went and started feeling a bit detached from the Toronto music scene. I was still doing music on the side: travelling to Toronto on Fridays and leaving on Sundays but I finding it really hard to work on the album. I was living at my parents’ right, but I thought: “Now, I want to make music”.

Now a self-proclaimed “full-time student/full-time artist”, Taerk is studying English literature at the University of Toronto. “ Studying English lit. gives me a lot more access to different writers and helps a lot with understanding the power of words it complements and inspirations my music a lot.” Another big influence, Terry Brown: The Anglo-Canadian producer behind Rush and Cutting Crew and now Josh Taerk. “I’m so grateful to have met Terry and I’m very grateful to have worked with him. The album that’s going to come out in October has a lot of the original songs we produced with him.  He’s definitely a mentor. I remember I was playing a show in Toronto and I ended up meeting this guys who told me he really wanted to give my music to a friend. I was just starting out in music and I was so happy that someone was actually interested in my music that I instantly gave him a demo.  Then, the guy gets back to me and says: “My friend would really like to meet you, his name is Terry Brown.” I knew who Terry Brown was but I thought there’s no way that that guy IS Terry Brown.  So we go to a coffee shop in Toronto, I walk in and there’s Terry Brown. Just there! I was freaking out.”

The Canadian signer’s career skyrocketed from then on: performing at the Canadian Walk of Fame Ceremonies in 2012 and landing big gigs in Canada. It was Brown that later told Taerk that he felt he could be successful in the UK as well. “We were doing really well getting gigs in Canada but Terry kept saying: “You know I just can’t shake this feeling that your music would go over really well in the UK.” So we’ve gone out on tour with The Soldiers. We travelled all over the country and I got to travel around meet people and see places that I never would’ve know were there. It was then that the 22-year-old signer songwriter fell in love with good old Britain. “ You know, in London or in the UK in general the vibe around live shows is completely different. People get excited about music over here like nowhere else. It feels really confortable here because there’s a real support for live acts.” Says the singer.

Back when Taerk started making music as a teenager, he probably would have never tougth that the prospect of an international career as a signer-songwriter was on the horizon.  “The signing was actually a product of paying guitar. The first song I learnt was “Wonderwall” by Oasis. At the time I was a camp councilor and this really good looking female councilor comes up to me and asks me what I’m playing. I answered but then she looked at me and said:  “I’m not going to be able to know the song unless you sing it”. I’d never sung in front of anybody before but she was really cute so I decided to oblige and by the time I was done she looked at me and said “ I didn’t know you were a singer.” “Neither did I!” I thought.” Said Taerk laughing.

From humble beginnings at summer camp to dreams of making it big, Taerk stays a very down to earth guy who stays true to the music he loves and what he believes in.  For all Americana-Rock fans: Check out Never Look Back when it hits the shelves in October. More info to be found on