Johnnie Mikel has already experienced more life before the age of 21 than most people do in their entire lives. The singer/songwriter embarked in his journey in this world in Bowling Green, Kentucky. From there he and his family moved to New York which Johnnie credits to opening his eyes to so much culture and diversity. Johnnie has now released “Friday Night“, the follow up single to his successful debut EP Night of Your Life and is splitting his time between Nashville and Los Angeles. When I got to chatting with Johnnie about his music I was floored at the level of conviction and self awareness he had. It is so rare for someone to have such a deep understanding of their sense of self, never mind someone as young as Johnnie.
You’re splitting your time between LA and Nashville. What creative differences do you feel you get from each city?
Johnnie: I have to say I think the West Coast is probably my favorite. I’m a little biased towards it. I love both cities, they both have a bit of a different creative energy. The biggest difference is probably the way songs are written. When I’m in LA it’s a lot more walking in to a room and there’s a track and you’re actually building this really cool pop sound. In Nashville it’s much more about storytelling. There’s a lot more lyrical focus which I really love as a songwriter. I think that’s what has made me a well rounded musician. I’ve taken the Nashville lyric and the LA sound and put it together in something that’s not been heard before.
Take us on your journey from Kentucky to New York as a child:
Johnnie: I’m originally from Bowling Green, Kentucky just an hour outside of Nashville. Growing up there I was a totally shy kid who never liked attention but I always loved writing. That’s how I expressed myself and told me story. When I was fourteen I picked up a guitar. In between that time I lived in New York for four and a half years and that changed everything for me. It totally brought me out of my shell. I was exposed to so much culture, diversity, fashion, food and whatnot. I feel like those years were definitely influential on my music and who I am as a person. I feel like I wouldn’t be in music if it weren’t for my time in New York.
Where did the inspiration for the new track “Friday Night” come from?
Johnnie: It’s super fun, super high energy and has a little bit of a throwback feel to it. It’s funny the way it came about. I walked into the studio with Nash Overstreet, who produced it and was in Hot Chelle Rae. We were just discussing our all time favorite musicians. I was saying how I was more into the 90s and grew up listening to Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, *NSYNC and all that stuff. That is literally Nash’s generation and what he loves. It happened supernaturally talking about what we loved. We walked in and made that track that’s really reminiscent of that style. Then we wanted to write a song that matched the energy of the track and that’s how “Friday Night” came about!
Tell us about your charity One Word Foundation?
Johnnie: I created the One Word Foundation a couple years ago based off a song of mine called “One”. It’s a really emotional and lyrical song I wrote in Nashville with a couple good friends of mine about the power of your words. How one word can build someone up or tare someone down and monitoring what you say and your actions. I think that message is something that’s really lost in today’s world. I think we need to be more sympathetic and we need more kindness and love in this world.
So I created the One Word Foundation. Through the charity I was able to take donations at my live shows to give to organizations like the Salvation Army and Boys and Girls Club. I was actually visiting Boys and Girls Club locations across the country, getting to play songs for the kids and talk to them. The One Word Foundation has given me a lot of great opportunities to connect with people in different communities and to be able to give back a little, which I’m all about.
Every artist is influenced and inspired by dozens of other artists throughout the span of their career. With that said, if you were to pick your musical parents who would they be?
Johnnie: Ooooo that’s so tough! I love this question [laughs]. I would have to say Britney Spears and Brendon Urie. I grew up in the Britney generation for sure and Brendon is my favorite male vocalist of all time so I’d have to go with them! I could’ve said Britney and Justin but it would’ve been too cliche [laughs].
Johnnie is dropping more tracks this year and hitting the road later this year and in early 2019 so keep your eye out for those dates and his newest music!