Joshua Bassett’s new EP, Sad Songs In a Hotel Room, certainly delivers on its promise. The project – which precedes a debut album he’s still working on – features six songs “from a different episode in a very dark time in my life,” according to the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star, who is honing his craft as a singer-songwriter while trying to remain true to his own arrow amidst Hollywood and headlines.
Speaking to Billboard about the gestation of the EP, Bassett says a lot of the songs were written separately from the formal sessions his label set up for him. Oftentimes, he would wrap a songwriting session with strangers – distraught with the pressure foisted upon him to share personal details – and go off on his own to write a song that addressed his emotional state. And those were the ones that made the cut on the final project.
That commitment to candor has certainly captured the attention of a devoted audience. Watching Bassett perform at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom (not long before his EP’s release), the fervent teen and twentysomething audience hangs on his every word. Well, even more than every word; they seem to know precisely every beat of each song – sometimes before him. Speaking to Billboard a few days after the show, Bassett laughs, “they knew (the lyrics) better than I did.”
He’s certainly grateful for the attention most rising talents would dream of. “Putting your heart and soul into these songs you wrote in your bedroom or car and have people singing it back to you – I couldn’t ask for anything else,” Bassett says.
For the 21-year-old, who has faced more public scrutiny than most of us will ever see in a lifetime, Bassett remains guarded, but kind and hopeful. While he readily acknowledges that the last few years were no treat, he’s grateful for the support and love from fans.
“I hope people can see that if I made it out of that okay — and a lot of people saw publicly what I went through — if I can stand up after that and keep walking and keep my head up, then so can you. That sounds kinda cheesy and I’m not trying to be preachy, but we gotta be there for each other.”
Here, in his own words, Joshua Bassett takes us through each song on his Sad Songs in a Hotel Room EP, from the incidents that inspired each composition to the emotions that fueled them.