“I like styling people because I almost always see them differently than they see themselves.” — Josh Madden
Josh Madden works in so many outlets that it would be difficult to fit all his roles on a business card: DJ, stylist, radio show host, writer, photographer, videographer, music producer, and marketer. To spare the typesetter, he usually goes with the simple yet effective “producer.”
Madden produces words, images, videos, fashion, music (currently Freaky Franz’s album), playlists, magazines (he is director of content and marketing at Nylon Guys), an internet radio show (First Person With Josh Madden), and more. He is the great and powerful Oz of downtown culture, working behind the scenes on art you’ve seen but probably not known was his creation. When his younger twin brothers, Joel and Benji Madden, were in the spotlight with their band, Good Charlotte, Josh was behind the glass, masterminding their look and working in the marketing department at their record label, Epic Records.
“I like styling people because I almost always see them differently than they see themselves,” Madden says. In cultivating the look or sound for a person or a brand, you need more than creative chops; you have to be able to prove to the other party that your influence will enhance their stature. The relationship is akin to a tattoo artist providing a piece of art that somebody else wears. “That tattoo is your name; it’s right there forever,” Madden says. “A tattoo isn’t a couple of extra pounds you can lose. A tattoo is going to be out of style in three years if you aren’t careful. I bring art to the shop, but I take all advice as to placement, and the art is always redrawn to work best in respect to its position and location on my body.”
Grant Cobb has done most of his work, save some pieces by Frank Carter and a few other artists, including the one who did his first tattoo, which he got with the Good Charlotte boys. “When I was 19 or 20 my brothers came down to visit me in North Carolina and we all got our first tattoos together. It was this little shop about a block from my school and we had no idea what we were doing.”
Madden’s tattoos are clean and timeless, and his style is a reflection of his current playlist. “I’m a Beastie Boy for life,” he says. “I listen to hardcore one day, the next day I’m listening to something instrumental, that same day I could listen to some dark ’90s stuff and then some new hip-hop. My personal style trends come directly from the catalog of music I’m listening to from day to day.”
What he’s looking forward to seeing on the streets is a return to the MTV days. “Everyone is making a version of creepers [suede boots with rubber soles] and I’m stoked to see that,” Madden says. “Everything is all early-’90s-looking because of economic reflection in trends. When the economy goes sideways people get interested in the meaning of things and they turn to rebellion. I’m always down for some blue-collar rebelliousness. I live there; that’s my home state of mind.”
Don’t discount his eye for trends and his ability to know what’s coming next. He says he has a “desire for something other than what we almost always settle for—I am on an eternal search. I wake up with it and go to bed exhausted from it.”