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by Fadeke Banjo

Meet the upcoming soulful independent artist: Saint Joshua

Saint Joshua is a 26-year-old, British-Congolese, R&B/soul independent artist based in Croydon. Drawing inspiration from R&B and soul giants such as D’Angelo, ‘Channel orange’ artist Frank Ocean and Solange Knowles, to name a few.

Saint Joshua is making new waves with a uniquely soulful and colourful sound fusing R&B, soul, and pop influences in his music. Music is a safe haven for Saint Joshua and he’s always loved singing, from his first performance of ‘Amazing Grace’ as a kid to deciding to pursue music as a career and sharing his incredible music with the world. His first Ep project ‘Pilot’ and single ‘ I Like,’ were written and released during one of the UK’s lockdowns. Saint Joshua is the newcomer artist you want to add to your playlist this year. His most recent single, ‘Palo Santo’ is an upbeat, feel-good R&B song with a 70’s themed music video.

With 22,429 views on YouTube since its release on the 27th of January and 121,903 plays on Spotify, Paolo Santo is part of Spotify’s ‘Fresh Finds R&B’ playlist and has attracted attention from BBC Radio 1 Xtra and Capital Xtra, two notable UK radio stations. I had the privilege of getting to know the man behind ‘Saint Joshua’ during a recent sit-down interview over zoom. We talked about the creative process, the inspiration behind his current hit single ‘Palo Santo’ and what fans can look forward to this year.

Discussing his latest single, ‘Palo Santo’. Joshua described how special the song was to him and how it differed from his previous project ‘Pilot’.

Palo Santo is quite an upbeat song, contrasting with Joshua’s previous project, ‘Pilot.’ Joshua’s first EP, composed of more chilled soulful love ballads acoustics, mixed in with the conventional R&B/neo soul sound. Similar sounds to seasoned artists like Jill Scott, Glen Lewis, and D’Angelo. Joshua wanted to show his fans another side of himself.

“I wrote it [‘Pilot’] during the lockdown. I was in my feelings, and I thought you have had that emotional side of me now, let’s amp it up a little bit, let’s have good vibes. I wanted to make sure that the 2nd project showed a different side and people got to know a new side of me. “The song’s title is the Spanish name of an ancient tree, meaning ‘Holy wood.”

“I didn’t make it easy for myself, naming the song ‘Palo Santo’. Am I pronouncing it correctly? I don’t even speak Spanish, so I don’t know?”

Discussing the creative process of writing Palo Santo, Joshua shared the story behind the inspiration for the song, which involved an unconventional birthday present from his friend.

“I wrote ‘Palo Santo’ a few days after my birthday. My friend brought me a crystal set because I was trying to be all spiritual, fixing my sage and all that stuff. I read on one of the leaflets that to cleanse your crystals, you need to use a Palo Santo. Then all of a sudden it came to my head when I was in the writing session, and it went on from there. It was a light bulb moment.”

Joshua was like a proud parent when he spoke about how happy he felt releasing the music video for Palo Santo. Although he did confess that he had some worries about people’s response to the song and the overall theme of the music video.

“I was just nervous that certain things we did wouldn’t make sense. There was a horse head in the bathroom, what’s going on? Funny enough, nobody has called me out on it, and I feel everyone gets it, so I like how quirky it was.” Joshua relates to the dilemma artists and creatives face when releasing their work for the world to see, the constant overthinking and the strange feeling of letting go.

“I overthink all the time, and it’s something I have learned to let go, or I’m trying to let go. Even when it came to releasing ‘Palo Santo,’ I thought people wouldn’t understand it. Should I change it? Should I do this? But, no, stop, release, be proud of your work, it’s fine.”

His latest single got attention from two notable UK national radio channels, BBC Radio 1 Xtra and Capital Xtra. Describing this milestone, he says:

“It feels surreal because I had believed that Palo Santo was going to do well – I have belief in all my songs – but nothing has done as well as Palo Santo. Having my first national radio play was an experience that I will never forget.”

Joshua is blown away by his fans’ response to his latest single,

“[Seeing] everyone saying this is a vibe, I get it. I love the song. I’m so happy that people get it, and they are rocking with it, and they love the upbeat R&B. I don’t think we get that often, so I thought I would try something different.”

By the end of our interview, we felt like two old friends catching up and I asked Joshua what the fans could expect from him this year.

Without giving too much away, he revealed that another EP was in the making.

“People can expect an EP coming very, very, very, very, soon. I’m enjoying Palo Santo for now and riding that wave. I have a month in mind, but I haven’t got an exact date yet. I have the tracks, but I haven’t got the EP title.”

Joshua also revealed that more live shows and a potential headline gig in London are on the cards. Listen to ‘Palo Santo’ on all music platforms & follow Saint Joshua on all platforms @saintjoshua_.