Like many, musician Josh Stevens got out of a relationship that “ended really badly,” and he lived to tell about it.
The Orange County, CA native – who has a long history of working behind the scenes with A-list artists, including Jennifer Lopez, Calvin Harris, Nicki Minaj and his close homie Warren G. – is finally becoming the face of his own music with the release of his debut EP, The Story of Summer, which explores the ups and downs of having a significant other.
The five-song compilation is slated for official release at the end of September, but in the meantime, he just put out its first single “Hill Top” (featuring Capital Cities‘ Spencer Ludwig – scroll to the bottom to hear), an anthemic pop-rock tune that touches on one of the many sides of being in love.
“This song is like the euphoric, everything is great – and then once you get into the rest of the EP, you’ll find there are some lower points and dark points,” Stevens tells skyelyfe. “This was a few years ago, so it was definitely reflective writing of a time period in my life. I didn’t write it while I was going through it because I didn’t even know I was going through it. When you look back, you’re kind of like, wow, that’s what I was going through. I had to learn and grow from my experience.”
Stevens is fine now – in fact, he and his current girlfriend use the “Hill Top” lyrics as their relationship mantra when they are both traveling separately all over the world for work. But he does recall those previously painful times.
“When you get out of a relationship, you can do one of two things that people usually do: They either close up and become secluded or they just wild out,” he says. “I did both. I did crazy partying and had one-night stands. Then at some point, you realize, oh, this isn’t all its cracked up to be. [At first] you’re like, this is amazing, I’m free! But then you realize real quick, ooh, there’s some darkness.”
Because this was Stevens’ first time crafting his own music material, there were things he didn’t expect during the process. But also, some things he found enlightening.
1. Writing about the lessons from these failed relationships was sometimes tough
“I’m one of those people who doesn’t reflect very often,” Stevens says. “It’s not in my nature. I’m not like, ‘Oh, I wish that could have been different.’ I’m more like, ‘What can I learn from that?’ When I went back to kind of see what went on during that time period, I kind of wrote it from that perspective. I can’t deny this is what happened, but what can I learn from it? Not really like, let me go live in it again. It wasn’t hard to go back. The hardest thing was to figure out what I learned from it and what I can tell other people from this experience.”
2. He realized he wasn’t alone in his past emotional state
“I think to sum it all up, there’s a sense of loneliness when you go through this,” Stevens says of breakups. “A feeling of, I’m alone and no one else understands. I think what has developed from this EP is people are not alone. You’re not alone in this feeling. There’s someone else who has gone through this. I hope the listener has that mentality.”
3. He realized how much of an impact his songs have on others
“I didn’t expect so many people to be stoked about [the EP], to be honest,” Stevens admits. “I was like, I’m going to do my own thing and see how it comes out. People have been super receptive to it. There’s a song on there called ‘Call Me Crazy,’ which is about my experience going through Hollywood and dealing with dirt being kicked in your face, and naysayers. Somebody came up to me and told me they go through that all the time and that the song spoke to them and it helps them get through the day. In a way, it’s awesome, but at the same time, it’s kind of creepy. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes dude, so I’m not quite used to that response. I’m very appreciative though. Another person came up to me who heard the song ‘Anna,’ and they said the song is helping them heal. Things like that I never would have expected. I make music as purely as possible. If it resonates, it resonates. It’s kind of out of my control.”