Help get Josh Monteath on stage with Ed Sheeran in Dubai
Thanks to social media, talent scouts and record producers are more likely to find the next big thing online rather than at an open-mic night. Justin Bieber used YouTube as a platform and was noticed by a talent scout who brought him to the attention of Usher, which launched his career, and popular TV host Ellen DeGeneres championed Greyson Chance after seeing a YouTube video that had gone viral of him performing Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi’ at a school recital.
Taking a leaf from their book, singer, guitarist and composer Josh Monteath has started the campaign #GetJoshtoSheeran and it has caused quite the buzz on social media over the past month. His aim? To open for Ed Sheeran at his concert at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre on Thursday March 5, by spreading the word. The upcoming artist, who is no stranger to the local music scene, has been an avid fan of Ed Sheeran since the singer’s first album, +, and would love to make it onto the big stage with the support and help of the people of the UAE.
‘I started the campaign in order to create some noise quite publicly and to get the people to put me up on that stage. When I heard Ed Sheeran was coming to Dubai, I made it my mission to find a way to get up there,’ Monteath says.
With the support of grassroots music initiative Freshly Ground Sounds, a community-focused concept established in November 2013 to bring together local musicians, music lovers and music venues, Monteath is hoping to gain the attention of the concert’s organisers – DGT Events – and Ed Sheeran himself. ‘It’s not just up to the organisers. It’s up to Ed Sheeran, essentially. I know from being a fan that he has an opening act. I don’t know what he’ll say, but I just want to keep the campaign alive and fresh, whether it happens or not.’
The UAE-born artist, who is also an audio engineering student at SAE Institute Dubai, began his musical journey aged just 12. He is currently a weekly fixture at the Vida Downtown Picnic brunch. He has also become a memorable and regular performer at events held by Freshly Ground Sounds and The Fridge, and he makes the occasional appearance at the open-mic night at Jazz@PizzaExpress. ‘I was in a band for a while and it fell through. I’ve never really found anyone with the same chemistry, so I just picked up my guitar and started singing and playing on my own. That kind of vibe appeals to me. I feel that I’ve got that same kind of style as Ed Sheeran – just me and my guitar. I just feel like it’s the perfect platform for me,’ he says.
Growing up, Monteath’s musical influences ranged from Elvis Presley to Backstreet Boys and Aerosmith. At aged ten, he started playing guitar and developed a love for ’80s sounds. ‘A lot of my music is really different,’ he says. ‘I don’t play a particular genre, I tend to use all my influences from over the years. For the past five years I’ve been listening to John Mayer. I’d say my music is more folky and acoustic with a blues blend.’ He tributes a school talent show that he performed in at the age of 13 as the moment he realised he wanted to be a musician full time. ‘I didn’t actually sign up to perform because I didn’t want to, but a few of my friends knew I was playing the guitar and they wanted to hear me play,’ he says. ‘They all started chanting during the show to get me up on stage. I was sweating and I hated them for it, but I couldn’t run away. So I went up and I performed ‘Nothing Else Matters’ by Metallica with a little Yamaha electric guitar that was coming out of a ten-watt amp. And people loved it.’
Since then, Monteath has performed at the launch of Yas Mall Abu Dhabi and at the 2014 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. His songs, like those of most songwriters, are derived from his own personal life and experiences using the golden rule that to be able to write well, one must write what one knows. ‘I don’t want to sound too cheesy, but life is my inspiration,’ he says. ‘It’s always easiest to write music when you are honest with yourself, as it’s a way of speaking out without actually having to talk to someone.
‘I have around 30 songs just piling up, and I just want to share them with everyone,’ he continues. ‘I’ve been putting off being in the studio purely because I’ve been concentrating on playing live and putting my face and name out there. I’d like to do a few EP’s and eventually an album.’
Whether Monteath succeeds in his quest to be the opening act for Ed Sheeran, only time will tell. Watch this space. Tweet #GetJoshtoSheeran Twitter: @JoshMonteath and to see his music: www.joshmonteath.com