Multi-talented singer/songwriter/filmmaker Josh Rifkin has his hands full juggling two distinct and successful careers in music and film, and that's just the way he likes it. While some may think that the two mediums are quite different, Rifkin points out that they actually share many things in common. "Music and film inform each other," he says. "Rhythm is key when editing films, and of course it's essential to music. And when I am writing songs I have cinematic images in my head."
Rifkin, who grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now calls Los Angeles home, brings his own unique sensibility to both endeavors. His recently released album, Guest House, adeptly combines elements of piano-based ballads, gospel, country and soul to form a cohesive whole. "Guest House is named for a poem by Rumi, an ancient Persian poet who said that feelings and thoughts are like visitors in a house -- we invite them in and then release them," Rifkin explains. "Similarly, my album has all types of different musical styles that come knocking at the door."
Rifkin invited several guests to perform on the album, including a gospel choir, a string quartet, a horn section and a pedal steel guitar player. The album was recorded at several locations around Los Angeles, including Graham Nash's former studio, and the renowned Steakhouse Studio in North Hollywood, where everyone from Smokey Robinson to Weezer has recorded.
Citing influences as diverse as Elton John, Carole King, Bob Dylan and Leon Russell, Rifkin has a gift for crafting songs that insightfully reflect on love and loss from his own unique perspective. His experience leading bands including Mumblin' Jim (which was signed to Island Records by its legendary founder Chris Blackwell and recorded their debut full-length at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas with producer Dan "The Automator" Nakamura) shines through in his confidence, distinctive style and polished tunes. His songs have been featured on hit TV shows including Friday Night Lights, Army Wives, Undressed, Angel as well as Felicity. The song “World’s Gonna End,” from his 2006 album Late Bloomer, garnered him widespread attention when it was featured in the film Four Brothers.
Despite his rigorous musical schedule, Rifkin manages to juggle a successful film career. Ever since high school, when he and his friends shot a series of short films called the Blood Bag Boys and won prizes for the campy horror short The Heart Eating Monster, Rifkin has done everything from edit and direct short films to write screenplays. His credits include serving as editor on Triple Dog, Not Easily Broken, One-Eyed Monster and Catacombs as well as writing and directing the poignant film My Way, which chronicles his family's business manufacturing ladies lingerie over three generations. Rifkin's film Down In The Valley was an Official Selection at the Festival De Cannes, and his film Ira and Abby won the Audience Award Best Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival as well as at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.
Although juggling two successful careers isn't for the fainthearted, Rifkin wouldn't have it any other way. "It's a joy and a pleasure being able to express myself in these ways," he says. "Music is so immediate. A song says 'this is how I feel and experience life.' I can sit down at a piano and something comes out. Filmmaking, on the other hand, is not quite as pure because it's a collaborative effort. But filmmaking is the best of everything -- magic, music, acting, wardrobe and action. What could be better?"