Born and based in Toronto, Canada, Johann is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer.
Utilizing drums and layered vocals as the foundations for his music, Johann skillfully blends his many talents to create spacious and rhythmic yet dreamy pop-inspired soundscapes that also feel irresistibly nostalgic.
Warm, soothing, heartfelt. These are only a fraction of the words one can use to describe Johann’s music. Having already racked up thousands of views for his single “Time Killer” and the accompanying music video (released earlier this year), Johann refuses to stay complacent. Building on the momentum he built up with Time killer, Johann returns with a love letter to cinema, his upbringing, and those he holds dear with “Surrendering Sunday,” the closing track to his EP, Becoming Routine.
From the instant Johann comes in on the first verse, his soft, kindly vocals instantly lend a feel of familiarity and nostalgia to your ears. As he tenderly sings of spending his Sundays with those he cares about (I’ve gotta say that I like what you are about / imma head back to your house), you get the sense that you’re listening to a friend warmly recount their Sunday afternoon.
This is a theme for Johann’s music; layered, dreamy vocals that make you feel like he’s singing straight to you, paired with lyrics that tap into a reservoir of pleasant childhood memories and make you feel good. As his vocals fade and the drums and guitar take over, “Surrendering Sunday” takes you down a trip down musical memory lane in the best way possible.
As the days get colder and the year draws close, why rewind and revisit some of the good old days? Check out Toronto’s own Johann and the dreamy “Surrendering Sunday” from the “Becoming Routine” EP. And watch out for the “Surrendering Sunday” music video, dropping November 25th.
Welcome back to BuzzMusic, Johann! We loved the nostalgic feel of “Surrendering Sunday,” the warmth and genuineness of your lyrics and approach were something we enjoyed! We have to ask, how did you channel your childhood when you were creating this piece? Were there any particular moments you thought back to?
Good to be back here, and thank you so much! It's funny; I initially wrote "Surrendering Sunday" about this girl I was seeing. When my cousin Mannie (the director of Surrendering Sunday's video) shared his take on the song with me, my perspective changed. The sense of warmth, genuineness, and child-like nostalgia you speak of is also what Mannie felt–spiritual even. So I guess throughout, and after filming this video, I drew back to fond moments of my childhood, wholesome memories surrounding my family, particularly home-cooked meals and the ease of being a kid and running around outside. When I listen to the song nowadays, I often find myself in [this] headspace, as opposed to a romantic one.
So, the music video for “Surrendering Sunday” is dropping on the 25th. What was your favorite part of bringing your vision to life in the music video?
To backpack off the first question, almost holistically, the family aspect of it. I guess the narrative and the scenes we shot are one thing, but for me, collaborating and bringing this video to life with family members is the most extraordinary thing here. As aforementioned, my cousin Mannie upheld his vision as the director, while our nephew Nyjah stepped in and co-starred alongside me as my younger self. My brother Joey was our reliable DOP, and my cousin Mia was our MVP as artistic director. I'm so honored to come from a family of such talent and creativity–there's nothing like it.
So you mentioned that indie, alternative, and 90’s pop were super influential to “Becoming Routine” and your creative output. Do you have any musicians or bands you especially resonate with, and what music are you listening to today?
I always have a steady rotation of the bands I listened to growing up, Foo Fighters, Paramore, Billy Talent, etc. But artists/bands like Jeff Buckley, Incubus, Weezer, and even Oasis are who I specifically drew from when making "Becoming Routine." These days, aside from those I mentioned already, bands like Beach House, Fleet Foxes, Radiohead, Tame Impala, and Turnstile are the ones who resonate with me. I'm excited to see (or hear) how their influence will impact my future work.
What is the main message or feeling you want your fans to take away from your music? What does it mean to be able to bring the video for “Surrendering Sunday” to them?
Regardless of whatever I'm speaking about in these songs, I want listeners to know that the sounds and lyrics come from a place of total honesty and, hopefully, a state of grace and thankfulness. With "Surrendering Sunday," the main message here is to remind ourselves to embrace our inner child–that and the overall sentimentality of being a family. We want those who watch the video to feel like they're always welcome at our dinner table.
What’s your favorite part about creating music? Take us through your creative process.
Not to subvert the question in any way, but all parts of the creative process are my favorite! I genuinely love everything from writing (either alone or with others) to time in the studio! Even the whole music video thing is just as fun and essential. To summarize how things routinely go, song ideas usually come to me whenever I'm doing something unrelated to music, such as driving around in my car or running various errands. And typically, it's a drum beat or a melodic idea (sometimes both simultaneously) that comes first, with lyrics making their way toward the end of the songwriting journey. However, I'm always down to change my process when writing/making new music. Starting early next year, I will be working on my first full-length album with one of my best friends, Aleks Liskauskas, as my co-writer and producer, so this will constitute some form of creative change, and I'm so stoked about it–stay tuned!