Jordan Johnson: ‘I’ve Been Working on Refining My Sound’
The New Delhi-based singer-songwriter discusses his upcoming sophomore self-titled debut EP
When we last spoke to New Delhi-based singer-songwriter Jordan Johnson in 2016, he was just about to release his second EP Reverie and tour the country. However, things didn’t pan out as planned for the young musician. He says, “I got back from the States and I listened to the songs that I had recorded over in California and I thought to myself, there is so much that can be done with these songs.”
Johnson felt that since he had created an image as just a singer-songwriter with acoustic tracks, his self-titled EP was the right way to show people that he has a lot more to offer than the usual guitar-and-voice format. “I honestly took these songs through so many versions of themselves and finally got to a place a year later where I was happy with them,” says Johnson.
The singer-songwriter – who released his debut EP Distance And A Kiss in 2012– is finally all set to release his sophomore four-track self titled EP on March 30th. Earlier this month, Johnson dropped the tranquil lead single off the record, “Afterglow,” and also released a music video for the track. The singer-songwriter spoke to Rolling Stone India about new material, evolving and promotion plans. Excerpts:
What has your journey been like since we last spoke two years ago?
I’ve been doing a fair amount of shows all over India and tapping into the North Eastern circuit more frequently. I also made it out to Geneva, Switzerland to perform for the lovely people over there. I’ll be recording my third EP there, overlooking the mountains in mid-July and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve also been collaborating with a handful of artists like [producers] Zaeden, Parra For Cuva and a recently formed alt/punk/pop band Koolies & Hectic and a few of the tracks that I’ve worked on are set to release in the next couple of months.
How did this EP take shape and evolve?
This has honestly been a very challenging year for me. The amount of times I ditched a complete song to start out new is innumerable. My home studio has seen many tantrums, tears and laughter over the last year, but I think it’s all been worth it. I’ve learned so much from making mistakes, flipping things around, and collaborating with musicians like Akshay Deokuliar (drummer) and Harshit Misra (bassist). I think the evolution started when I saw [British singer-songwriter] Jack Garratt perform in Chicago in 2016. The man did everything. Here I am using two hands and my voice to play an acoustic song and he’s playing bass, live drums, electric guitar, piano and singing. It was inspirational and it challenged me to stretch myself, get back to my roots, play different instruments and explore more of what music has to offer.
Sonically the record on a whole has a nice somber touch and melancholic vibe to it, was that also the kind of space that you feel was part of the evolution process from Reverie?
I mean, for me, songwriting is how I process things. I’m not much of a talker when it comes to feelings and expressing myself. So it’s therapy. If I don’t do it, it’ll pile up and I’ll lose it in life. So the somber, melancholy vibe is an outward expression of what I’m trying to sort out on the inside, so I can be happy in real life. Like I said before, last year was tough, and this is what I lay down, for me to be able to move on to other things.
Tell me about the songs on the EP and the songwriting thought behind each of them.
The EP begins its journey with “The Crow Song,” describing the inner unrest that occurred after exploring loss of identity and self along with questions around existence. The second track, “Twenty,” moves from larger philosophical questions into my own peculiar reckoning with the idea of losing my parents and, ultimately, my childhood. The third song titled, “Superman,” was written months before I got married. I found myself at a crossroads of the expectations of my family and the self-expectations. The bookend track, “Afterglow,” is about me running from confronting myself and all my flaws.
What plans do you have in promoting the record and will you do an India tour?
I recently joined a booking agency called Kranti Art Theory founded by Romario Rodrigues. They’ll be organizing a nationwide tour to promote the sounds from the upcoming EP. I also managed to fly a young Kiwi cinematographer out to India (with the help of a few investors), Caleb Corlett, to shoot us a few music videos that create a visual landscape to fit the sonic one that we made for the record.
Watch the music video for “Afterglow” below: