Joshua Starkman is a dynamic guitarist, songwriter, performer, and perhaps most notably, the founder and face of the “Have a Great Day!” social media phenom. A Florida native who has called New Orleans home for the past decade, Josh spent many years collaborating with musicians across all walks and talents on the stage and in the studio. A chance foray into filming his guitar playing turned into a wildly popular, and nationally-lauded, series featuring Josh’s effervescent energy while hosting a variety of musical (and sometimes non-musical!) entertainers for unique duets, skits, and interviews. As the “Have a Great Day!” show has caught on – through mediums like Instagram and YouTube, Josh’s deeper commitment to mental health conversations and openness with his own mental struggles has grown. Josh took a few minutes to rap with us on all things music and mental health – read on to learn more of his journey in music – for the mind!
How would you describe your creative work in three words?
Music for All
What is the earliest memory you have that made you think, “I want to do that!” in regard to pursuing music and the creative arts?
I took guitar lessons for a couple years and come from a family of music fans, but it wasn't until I was in high school and had my first chance to improvise that I felt the bug of, "I want to do this forever and ever.” I think I was playing “All of Me” (the 1931 Gerald Marks & Seymour Simons jazz standard) with my guitar class teacher. And from there, I followed that feeling!
Your music career began with a primary focus on guitar performance and songwriting, both in your own bands (such as Nebula Rosa) and in supporting other artists; but, has grown over time to include your wildly popular digital show, “Have a Great Day!,” which also resembles a lighthearted music-based talk-show format. With this trajectory in mind, how have your musical endeavors changed over time?
I am in the process of putting together the last segments and edits for the 1st episode of the beta-season of, “The Have a Great Day Show," that will be out later this summer! The show will feature a longer format, about 15 minutes, of what I've been doing via the Instagram series: musical performances, interviews, and skits. I also want to expand my live show, and write music that is more in-line with the work I have been doing. Songs more about my personal ideas on life, love, and community.
Allen Toussaint once stated, “Music is everything to me short of breathing. Music also has a role to lift you up-not to be escapist but to take you out of misery.” Reflecting on this sentiment, how has music gotten you through hard times in your life?
Music, along with my friends, family, and community, has been my lifeline through my divorce and experience with COVID-19; the latter of which still has physical effects on my body. When I make videos or play music with others, the pain, aches, and breathing issues lighten up. This is also the same for any mental funk or weirdness I may be in. Music, for me, is literally magic.
What does the phrase “Music for the Mind” mean to you?
Music can relieve your mind of tension in whatever form, and when the mind is at ease, the body usually follows.
In addition to music as a cathartic measure, what other resources or coping tools do you use for your own mental well-being?
I have a fantastic therapist that I have been seeing for several years. I've taken part in CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy, both to great results. I also enjoy meditating, journaling, writing poetry, doodling, riding my bike, and yoga. These solo activities keep me grounded. Sometimes it's also good to micro-dose psychedelics or smoke marijuana! (editor’s note: under a medical professional’s supervision, and where legally supported).
As we close our interview, what are some final thoughts that you’d like to leave our readers with?
Music is a vital part of the human experience. I recommend everyone have some sort of relationship to music; especially music playing with others. The idea of "professional" and "amateur" musicians is a farce - music is not only for consumption or purchase. In fact, the majority of its existence has nothing to do with purchasing it. The playing of music is a vital part of your human spirit, your connectivity to others, and to the mental health of your community. Turn off your phone, turn off your TV, make music today, and make your world a better place!
To learn more about Joshua Starkman, the “Have a Great Day!” guy, go to:
Official Website: https://haveagreatdayyall.bigcartel.com/products
All photos by Nkechi Chibueze for the Brett Thomas Doussan (BTD) Foundation.