Of all the accidental musical discoveries that have graced the ears of Your Girl In Music over the last six months, few have embodied the spirit of serendipity so well as that of David Johnson and his album Eights and Aces. We took some time to sit down with the young singer-songwriter and discuss what makes him tick in music and in life.
Share your earliest Musical Memory.
My earliest early memory probably involves the Beatles, but the most memorable was when I was probably around 5 years old. I woke up from a nap one late afternoon at twilight and found my parents were not in the house. This was the first time I can remember not having adult supervision. I felt a little bit alone but put on the first Traveling Wilbury’s album. I just lied on the carpet next to the speakers and listened to the whole album. It was a great experience because I was alone with the music and let the album engulf me and I lost myself in it. A great memory and a great album.
What first drew you to music?
Music has always been integral in my life. I have always had an obsession with it. It had a huge impact on the way I grew up and my personal philosophy. From early on I have been exploring all kind of styles and artist. I never had any interest in playing music until I picked up my brother’s guitar at 18 years old and learned “Blackbird” in a couple of days.
What continues to draw you to it?
For a while I thought that all the good music had already been written and recorded. And in the sense that Frank Zappa meant it (All the good music was written by dead guys in wigs 200 years ago, or something to that effect), that’s true. But a few years ago I realized that there are always artists and band’s that can truly inspire and consume me. As of this week it’s been the Alabama Shakes, and Tornado Rider. I saw Alabama Shakes in SF last week and they were amazing. What continues to draw me as an artist is that I am still searching for my sound. It will be a constant search, but trying to find a really tight, meaningful song is always a powerful motivator.
What inspires you?
Truth and beauty. It sounds trite and, really it is, but in all aspects of my life, the duality between “Truth and Beauty”, and the absence of it has always inspired me.
What is your artistic mission?
I try not to think in terms of grandiose ideas anymore. When I set out to make my album I was completely misguided by delusions of grandeur and a false perspective of what I thought my values were. Right now, if I could change the world as an artist I would rid it of corporations that rape and pillage at an epidemic rate and proportion. There are other bands that would hold that as a mission as well, and I think some have at least made people more aware of what a fuck-job we are subject to. I really admire Woody Guthrie (this machine fights facists) and Ry Cooder who has recently seemed to focus only on that sort of theme.
Tell me about your most memorable show or moment on stage.
During my first gig in front of a real substantial audience, halfway through the first set, a guy in the audience died right there from a heart attack. Not a great memory but it sticks out. I have fond memories of singing Cash and Carter’s “Jackson” with my Special Lady. I have fond memories of playing big venues like SXSW (unofficial) and Stagecoach pre-shows.
What is the strangest thing that’s ever inspired a song?
Love and heartbreak are very strange things (laughs).
Give me some insight into your music + songwriting process.
I just sort of rediscovered a guy that I met in LA named Rushad Eggleston. He’s an insanely talented musician. He’s in a band now called Tornado Rider that plays very interesting music. You should check it out. But to get to the point, he says that his approach to music is combining an abrasive, hard-rocking musical component with whimsical, light, lyrical counter parts. In this way he represents realties dualistic nature, Light vs Dark. Using the same longing to paint a picture of the dichotomy, I used to opposite approach. I try to give the listener a melodic and harmonic acoustic journey through the musical component while addressing the dark injustices that I have personally experience and share with humanity, or what we are experiencing as a whole
What is the most ridiculous gig you’ve taken on as an artist/musician?
I played a room once for a realtor meeting. No one could hear me singing or playing and it was just very ackward. I did get paid though.
Whats in the works?
I would like to make an album again. I have the material. I just need to find the time and resources to put it together. It’s going to be a very different experience than the last one. From the songwriting, instrumentation, to how it’s produced and recorded it will have a different feel. I am much wiser now… As always I’m constantly thinking in terms of music.
You’re forced at gunpoint to get your karaoke on; go!
I’d like to try “Livin’ for the City” by Stevie Wonder. I think I’m great in the car and would like to try it out.
Name your Guilty Music Pleasure.
I don’t really feel guilty about liking any music but LMFAO comes close…