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Johnnie Mikel talks Crafting the Perfect Pop EP

“It’s all about being your true and authentic self, loving that, and being fearless.”

Johnnie Mikel is ready to conquer the pop music scene, and he plans to have the time of his life doing it. Mikel recently released a music video for his debut single, ‘Come with Me‘ full of fun, fashion and danceworthy beats. The clip makes for a fantastic first impression: Mikel is clearly a triple threat, with the voice, looks, and creative vision of a superstar.

We recently chatted with Johnnie about his inspirations and direction for his upcoming EP, Night of Your Life, and his goals for the future.

  • Hey Johnnie! You recently finished recording the songs for your upcoming release ‘Night of Your Life’ – all before turning 21. When did you know music was your passion?

Writing has always been extremely important to me. It’s how I’ve always expressed myself, even from a young age! It felt very natural and safe. I also grew up loving music, but never thought one day I would be a full time pop artist and songwriter. When I was 14, I picked up a guitar on a whim and started putting my words to music. It felt so liberating. Ever since that moment, I knew music was what I wanted to do with my life. Writing and recording songs has been my main passion for quite some time now, and I’m so grateful I decided to embark on this journey!

  • You started storytelling about life growing up in Manhattan on an online blog when you were 11. How has life in New York influenced your music? Has the city brought you inspiration you wouldn’t find elsewhere?

I personally believe my music or even my identity as a human today wouldn’t be the same without my time in New York. I moved to the city at 11 years old from a small town in Kentucky. I was suddenly exposed to so much and fell in love with the diversity of the city. It’s all about being your true and authentic self, loving that, and being fearless. That message has definitely resonated with me personally and has radiated through my music. The city really brought out the artistic side of me and encouraged me to follow my dreams. To this day, Manhattan is one of my favorite places! There’s no place like it. It’s full of inspiration and endless possibilities. No day is ever the same as the last in New York.

  • ‘Come With Me’ is a club banger with such a sleek video. What was it like filming it? Is there a particular memory you’ll never forget from filming your first music video?

Filming my first video was such a surreal experience. The energy and flow on the set was fantastic. Everyone did an amazing job, and they were great to work with. Bobby Hewitt killed it as the director! One of my favorite memories of being on set was piecing together my looks in wardrobe. I’m all about fashion, so I was in love with everything there! I love the silver pants and red boots I wear in the video. I was definitely going for a modern-pop feel mixed with some David Bowie looks!

  • There’s a very precise and well-executed sense of style and fashion in the music video. Were you very hands-on in the vision for the video? What was it like working with other creative minds?

Thank you! I was in love with all the fashion in the video. I was extremely hands-on throughout the entire process. Creative control is very important to me, and I’m so glad I had 100% of that with this project. I met with my creative team for several weeks before shooting the video and everyone threw out ideas and we worked together to make it feel right. I definitely had a hand in every aspect of the video – from the set, colors, fashion, and overall concept. A few days before we shot the video, I added in the Polaroid and dream sequence aspect to the concept. I’m so proud of the way it turned out and am so grateful for the positive feedback it’s received!

  • ‘Come With Me’ has been enjoying success on US Radio – you tweeted about being the third most played indie artist for several weeks. What’s that feel like?

Fantastic! I have been so blown away by the love sent my way lately by US Radio. I’m genuinely so grateful for every DJ spinning the new music and every fan who’s calling in and requesting. I can’t wait to get on the road and thank everyone face to face. It’s even more meaningful as an indie artist to be on the same list as so many other inspiring creators who I look up to and am constantly inspired by. It feels so surreal.

  • What can fans expect from your future music?

From my new EP, Night Of Your Life, coming on February 2, everyone can expect to hit the dance floor and get moving! I’ve recorded SO many songs that I love in LA this past year that contain a range of emotions and subject matter, but for my first release of 2018, I wanted to get everyone hyped for what’s to come and to literally have the night of their life. All the songs are super party-oriented and yet they’re still very personal to me. I think the EP shows me in a fun light and showcases the super energetic side of my personality.

  • Do you have any plans to perform live? What kind of a show would you put on?

Yes! I’m so excited to hit the road in 2018 and get back to doing shows! Being on stage is actually my favorite part of the whole process. I’ve been in the studio for a year and am coming back with so many ideas for live performances. Since my new material is so big, bright, and expressive, I really want to represent that with everything from the vibe of the show to what I’m wearing. My new stuff also has a lot of electro elements, so I’m thinking the look of the stage itself and the band set-up will be much different.

  • What artists inspire your sound and style?

I love big dance artists like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake! Their work is extremely inspiring to me. Anyone with such iconic hits like them who can also put on a show that leaves the audience on the edge of their seats are among my favorites. I also love artists to constantly reinvent themselves like David Bowie. I think what’s so interesting about what’s going on in the pop genre right now is that there’s no rules. I’ve been blown away by watching such innovative artists like Dua Lipa and Lauv over the past year. I’ve also been a big fan of Walk The Moon for several years and am currently loving their new record and style.

  • If you could record a song or perform live with any artist, living or dead, who would it be, and why?

That’s such a tough question! I would have to say David Bowie. I’ve been compared to him by so many friends, family, and people in the industry… and that’s a huge honor to me. I love how he constantly reinvented himself and took so many risks sonically and with his look. I would love to have a legacy as incredible as his. I would also love to work with Lady Gaga and Carly Rae Jepsen one day.

  • When you’re not working on your music career, what do you like to do for fun? Do you have any hobbies that help you with your creativity?

I think you can gain creative inspiration through really any activity. I’m a bit all over the places… I LOVE going on mini-adventures with friends… just unconventional, random, spontaneous trips can spark so many ideas. Like, “Hey, let’s all go zip lining tonight. I found some place a couple hours away.” That’s the kind of stuff I’m always down for. I also love going to live shows and gaining inspiration from other artists being themselves and giving it their all on stage. Finally, I have to say… binge-watching Netflix or reading a good book is never a bad idea for gaining song inspiration. Sometimes they can evoke certain emotions or even remind you of past experiences, but with a fresh perspective that you can write about.

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Written by Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett is the creator and editor of POParazzi. He works primarily in Washington, DC. You can contact him at sam@poparazzi.org and visit his portfolio at sam-bennett.com.

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