Tell me who doesn’t want a bit of Joshua Bassett right now? From Disney kid to pop superstar, the ever-popular musician is making waves, and it’s a wave you don’t want to miss.
Since releasing his debut EP in March 2021, featuring lead single “Lie Lie Lie”, Bassett has been the talk of the town, with punchy pop tracks becoming part of his legacy. Many will recognise Bassett from his time at Disney, whether it be his breakout role in Stuck In The Middle or as romantic lead Ricky in the insanely titled High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. But, as I found, there is so much more to him than the traditional Disney Star turned Pop Star fairytale we have all seen play out before.
Delving straight into our interview, I wanted to find out how his success as an actor has encouraged and gave him the confidence to reach out to other work.“There is a multitude of things I’d like to do with my time! I’m stoked about some recent developments in my world!.”
He plays it cool, holding his cards close to his chest but it’s clear from his excitement that some big news is heading his fans way shortly. It must be a relief to have some good news on the horizon as the past 18 months have been incredibly difficult for Basset as he dealt with savage internet trolls and battled Sepsis all while isolating through the pandemic. “I feel like this year has knocked me down, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I try to remain positive but I’m not gonna lie- it’s been difficult.”
His health difficulties became public knowledge around the time he released his debut self titled EP, I wondered how he has found easing back into post-pandemic life and what things kept him going, recovering while in lockdown?
“Well, I’m still a mess! That’s for sure! Other than that, I couldn’t tell you. The whole year feels like a blur at this point, but I’m lucky to have such a wonderful team. Nate Albert is just as much my A&R as he is my mentor and it’s a treasure to have such wise and experienced people who believe in me and my project!”
With his dream team and Warner backing him all the way, I asked whether he had any big expectations for the EP, an experimental release sharing the first glimpse of his music with the world. “I’m very proud of that little EP, but I think it displays just a fraction of what I’m capable of. I’m beyond excited to share the next batch of music with people as soon as it’s ready!”
Over the past year, Joshua has found his voice as a new pillar in the LGBTQ+ community, opening up about his sexuality and mental health experiences. Having championed loving who you love shamelessly as a means of finding liberation, he sadly had to combat vicious abuse online symptomatic of the systemic hatred that still exists within society. But he didn’t shy away, instead, he shouted louder, became bolder and tackled stereotypes through his own experiences. He spoke about having been taught not to cry as a child and how he had to overcome these lessons to find the confidence to challenge the deep-rooted toxic masculinity he was exposed to and apply himself to learning how to help himself stay well, citing sleep and meditation as his two go too’s.
Discussing his mental health journey he opened up to me, “I’ve struggled with a handful of mental health issues my entire life; lately, I’ve been doing everything I can to stay afloat.” When I asked about how best we can end the stigmas around mental illness he was quick to answer, “I think mental health practices should be taught and encouraged in elementary school but until then I’ll have to catch up on all that I can as a young adult”.
While it is a given that music has been pivotal in helping him express himself, Bassett also acknowledged how sometimes being fully open and vulnerable can be a tricky line to walk, “Nothing beats being able to express exactly how you feel in a song. It can be very therapeutic. At the same time, it can be incredibly overwhelming when accessing your deepest most vulnerable places, and so in that way, it can be tricky.”
With the pandemic still very much inflow, many of us have found isolation a perfect time to look at our lives and deal with personal issues and challenges head-on, I wondered if Joshua had had any moments of self-reflection during the past year and how he’s mastered new energy to move forward and try new things. “I continuously remind myself that I must keep going no matter what.”
Although he has found the courage to speak openly, I sense some apprehension from Joshua when it comes to mental health talk. Like him, although I’m thrilled mental health and mental illness is being talked about more in mainstream media, there is a hesitation to bare my soul completely and trust that the progress we made is cemented. It’s something clearly on his mind, “I know mental health has plummeted for a lot of people and I’m very concerned about the whiplash we’re all about to see.”
Before we leave the interview, I ask if he has any last-minute thoughts, words of wisdom or advice he wants to pass on. “We need each other now more than ever- the world needs healing and community” and as we close the book, for now, he hastily adds “Helping myself and others and knowing that it will all get better is what keeps me going!”
In a world that is currently as turbulent as it has been in a while, coming together, relying on, and needing one another is some of the best advice we can hear, healing truly is the perfect priority, and Joshua intends to continue to make it his.
Words: Alice Gee