Melbourne producer, vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Third is an emerging artist that we’ve flagged as one to watch this year. Having been compared to the likes of Alison Wonderland and Elk Road, Johnny Third has a massive international and local fan base and has amassed over 3.5 million plays across Spotify and Soundcloud, not to mention the countless fan-produced YouTube clips he has inspired, reaching up to 10 million YouTube plays. Now, Johnny Third has released his new single ‘Only I Could‘ and is about to hit the road across Australia with Jinco. Details below
Spotlight Report had the chance to send over some of the questions we had for Johnny Third ranging from his inspirations, reimagining his music and how to get he got his music greater exposure by removing copyright. Read his answers below.
Could you tell us about your new single ‘Only I Could’ and how it came about?
‘Only I Could’ started off as a set introduction for my debut live show supporting GANZ. It was a much more progressive and darker track, but as I worked on it more and more, it transformed into something really different that’s influenced more by RnB and Future Bass elements. Almost every track that I write turns out completely different to the original idea. You wouldn’t recognise the original song! Maybe I’ll release it one day…
So you composed this track with Joe Knott, who you have worked with before.Can you describe, briefly, how the two of you work together on a musical project?
Joe and I met around 5 years ago at Electric Sun Studios in Sydney, when both our ex-bands were recording EPs/Albums and we have been friends ever since. He is by far the most talented lyricist and top line writer I have ever worked with, so when it came time to sing on my own tracks, collaborating with Joe on the vocal composition was a no brainer. Once I’ve finished composing and producing the instrumental, Joe and I will bounce concepts, lyrics and melodies around until we end up with a finished vocal that I can lay down. I have been writing instrumentals for a long time, but singing on my songs is something new – Joe’s help has been a keystone in getting the vocal composition to the same high standard as the musical bed.
Your Soundcloud page has a few different reimagined versions of your music. When you are making a song, do you already have an idea of how the reimagined version is going to sound, or does it happen more organically?
I have always loved reimagined versions of songs. The stripped back rawness can reveal different emotions to the listener; particularly a vulnerable vocal that may have gone unnoticed other wise. Being heavily influenced by bands and acoustic acts in past projects adds to my desire to write a naked rendition of the original. Having said that, the reimagined versions of my songs have always been been secondary. Once the original is finished I will go back and compose the alternative version, searching for a different emotion I can explore within the existing lyrics and melody.
It would be unreal to play an entire reimagined show in the future when I have enough alternative versions to do so!
What producers, songwriters and/or artists do you see as your primary inspirations?
I always find myself going back to the initial artist/s I listened to when discovering a new genre. Some of my biggest inspirations are Usher, Justin Timberlake, Prince, Michael Jackson and Panic! At The Disco who all heavily influence my vocal style, which I think must be why people compare my voice either to a rock or RnB artist. On the production side it would have to be a mix of Pharrell, Timberland and Shebib 40 for Pop/RnB musicality, Skrillex for sound design and RL Grime for the emotional euphoria he injects into his beats.
I noticed some of your older tracks were released on a label called NoCopyrightSounds, which is basically dedicated to releasing free music to content creators for the purpose of ‘enhancing creativity’ and to protect it from any copyright infringement. It’s quite rare to find artists that allow others to use their music freely, why did you feel this was important?
To be honest, I think the more places people can find your music, the better. My aim is to get my tracks to be heard by as many ears as possible. The amount of fans that have found my music through YouTube montages is surprisingly a lot, it would be extremely counter productive to restrict content creators from exposing you to their audience. As long as the creative user gives credit for the music, I’m more than happy for them to share it.
To add to this, do you think that copyright stifles creativity, especially in your own experiences as a producer?
It doesn’t stifle my creativity as I rarely use samples and sounds that I haven’t created myself, though I can see it becoming restrictive if I were to produce hip-hop or any other genre that is driven by re-sampling. In my experience, with past projects being signed to major labels ‘copy right flagging’ was a major issue. Having your music automatically pulled down from Soundcloud and YouTube can definitely dampen the potential of a new release.
Do you have advice for any and coming producers who wish to be successful in the music industry?
A mantra I have always said to my self on this journey is “Don’t Follow Trends”.
Electronic music trends change rapidly and continuously and by the time you jump on the band wagon the genre has already moved on. I think the key to longevity in this industry is doing your own style and doing it well. Then hopefully one day, you’ll be at the forefront of an emerging genre and if not, you’ll at least have life-long fans that appreciate and support your work instead of jumping ship when the next genre wave comes along.
Who would be your dream artist to work alongside?
I would have to go with Skrillex, his mix downs are absolutely insane and sound design is out of this world. Even though our styles are really different, I would love to pick his brain and apply some of it to what I produce. I’m fascinated by his incredible ability to make a dance floor banger timeless which I am always trying to strive for in my songs.
If you could have written any song in history, which would it be and why?
100% ‘Cry Me a River’ by Justin Timberlake, the production and melody is so catchy and timeless yet the lyrics of the song are heart breaking. The perfect balance of pop production and composition that still speaks to the soul years after its release
If you weren’t making music, what do you think you’d be doing?
If I was never introduced to playing piano and guitar in my early teens I would still probably racing and jumping motorbikes. I had been riding motorcycles since the age of three until I decided to step away from the sport upon realising the risk of breaking limbs (you’re bound to break something being mid air/landing on a motorbike at least once) and how it could affect my dreams of pursuing my passion for sound. I do still catch myself once or twice a year being behind the handlebars with the throttle fully opened though.
Friday 30 June – The Met, Brisbane*
Saturday 1 July – The Office, Townsville
Wednesday 5 July – The Wall, Sydney
Thursday 6 July – Kyte, Canberra
Friday 7 July – Proud Mary’s, Erina
Saturday 8 July – Summit, Perth
Wednesday 12 July – 1885, Auckland*
Friday 14 July – No Chill, Melbourne
*Johnny Third not performing