EXCLUSIVE: Wondaland’s Josh Dean Talks Michael Jackson Comparisons, Interning For Bryan-Michael Cox, More

If you’re not familiar with Josh Dean, get you some of this greatness!

Dean is an incredible singer, songwriter, and visual artist. He is currently managed by Janelle Monae’s Wondaland imprint and also signed to L.A Reid’s Hitco label. He recently released an EP titled “Dear BlackSheepe,” which is now available on all major streaming platforms. Josh also released his music video for his single “DropDead,” directed by Child (Lucky Daye, Ari Lennox) from this EP. And due to its popularity, the single was the No.1  added song on Urban AC radio.

Singersroom’s Rochelle Pollard spoke with Josh Dean to learn more about his musical background, inspirational stories, Michael Jackson comparisons, and much more. Check out their conversation and his new video “DropDead” featured right here on Singersroom:

Rochelle Pollard: Before you began your songwriting and singing career, you were actually an art director. What inspired you to make that transition? 

Josh Dean: I was doing graphic design and art directing for Wondaland. I was around at the time when they had a lot of artists and they were developing the imprint of their label. Being around those artists and seeing the whole process of making an album inspired me. 

There was one night in particular when we were working on a bunch of songs for the album and was listening to the song “Classic Man.” At the time, we all loved the song, but I was at a point where I was trying to learn how to record myself. I was very serious about that. I would wait for everyone to go to sleep, then I’d go downstairs, open up their sessions, then record over their sessions to teach myself how to engineer and how to use the software they recorded in. Well, I had done that one time to the song “Classic Man” and forgot to close my session down. Nonetheless, I was really afraid because that wasn’t my ministry. I wasn’t there to work on that. I was scared to let the cat out the bag. I fell asleep that night and the next morning when I woke up, they were playing the song. Every time they got to my part where I put my vocals in, they would stop the song. They were trying to find who had done it. It was really difficult for me because I had stepped out of my lane. I thought they were going to get rid of me and be upset. They thought it was Janelle, she said: “Nah, that ain’t me” then looked over at me while I was in the corner trembling. She asked if it was me and I confessed. She ran over to me and said, “Boy, you sound like Michael Jackson.” That scared the shit out of me because Micheal Jackson is someone I looked up to in his musical career. His career had taken him across the world and everyone knows who he is. For her to say that and compare me to MJ (and have Prince as her mentor) really inspired me to take music more seriously.

Rochelle Pollard: That brings me to my next question. I’ve been listening to your single “DropDead” on repeat and I get a Micheal Jackson feel from it. What are your thoughts to the positive Michael Jackson comparison from fans?

Josh Dean: Man, I love it! At first, it was overwhelming because I didn’t want to be a kid that sounds like Micheal Jackson but when I take a step back and look at the current state of music, that kind of music is not really available. So many people want to hear that type of music in this era. So for people to compare me to someone who is an all-time great, the G.O.A.T of G.O.A.Ts, I don’t take that lightly. 

Rochelle Pollard: I researched that you’ve interned with producer Bryan-Micahel Cox and others. What did you gain from interning in a whole and what can you share with others who may frown upon internships? 

Josh Dean: You have to know what you want and be realistic. For me, I wanted to intern with Bryan-Michael Cox because I had realized the environment that they were in and I wanted to be in the studio. I wanted to be around producers and I wanted to be around songwriters. I knew that was something I really wanted deep down inside. I just didn’t know how I would ever get to do it. So to be in that space and to be around those producers, it gave me knowledge on how to write a song and how to communicate and navigate with producers and songwriters. It also encouraged me because I would watch people on how they maneuver and that’s how I learned. I was never afraid to ask questions. I’m someways, I had to step away from my ego but more so I had to leave my ego at the door in order to still be teachable and remain a student. 

Rochelle Pollard: You’ve worked with well-respected musicians like Janelle Monae & others. Who would you consider to be the most influential in your career thus far? 

Josh Dean: It’s a few people! Of course, I have to say Janelle and Wondaland. Musically, they gave me my first shot to actually write. Rather than just singing on records, they gave me the opportunity to write. Janelle or her producers would come to me and ask if I like the way something sounds which really inspired me because they’re asking me for advice. It must mean something. 

I look at people like Jay Z. I had the opportunity to talk with him in Los Angeles at a party one time. I asked him, “What are some gems you can give a kid like me who’s new to the music industry?” He said “Make sure you have your schedule. Always have your schedule even if you don’t have anything to do one day, make sure you have a schedule.” Those are a few people. Also Mike Garson. I gained so much knowledge from him listening to his stories like being on the road with Luther Vandross. It gave me so much insight in terms of where I wanted to be and what I needed to do to get in those positions to do those things.

Rochelle Pollard: When I listen to your new EP, I personally get transparency & boldness in your love songs. I also feel the excitement from your music and good vibes. What would you like your fans to experience and take from this new project?

Josh Dean: I want them to take some of the same things you said. I want them to be excited about hearing the sounds and I want it to be music for everyone to relate to. It’s a very passionate project for me! I just wanted to write songs! I want people to walk away inspired and walk away with a sense of who I am and the story that I’m starting to tell right now. I want people who were once in my position, who may be an intern right now to be able to walk away inspired. Being an intern is not a bad thing if you’re doing it for the right reasons. Leave your ego at the door and go in and be teachable. You have to put in some work first. I want people to realize that as I tell my story. It was only given to me because I worked for it. I don’t want people to take that lightly.

Written By: Rochelle Pollard


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