Andrew Johnson is a man with many talents on the independent music scene. When he is not bringing out awesome tracks with Crimson Bloom and is solo Material, he is managing the likes of Amelia Coburn.
Who Is Andy Johnson?
Andy Johnson is me (sometimes Andrew Johnson). A singer/songwriter/musician from Teesside. I do a few other things like paint, design, run a record label, teach and used to DJ a fair bit. I even used to be dancer for a living!
How did you get into music?
Listening to my dad’s Beatles records as a kid. Head stuck between the speakers seeing pictures in my mind to Strawberry Fields Forever, Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds and that whole era. Looking at the images and reading the lyrics. It seemed to say something about life to me. I used to make up songs and stuff with my sister and mates. Had a load of “bedroom bands” with more names than songs. The first one was called Bastard Squad. I started playing guitar when I was about 15 and writing as soon as I could play a few chords. I’m not a very good guitarist. I just use it write stuff on really.
Who are your influences?
First and foremost The Beatles for the reasons above. I generally like melodic stuff, even if quite heavy, and grew up listening to ABBA and Simon and Garfunkel then onto The Smiths, The Clash and The Stone Roses were a big turning point in terms of broadening my tastes into dance music and other styles of “Rock”. I’ve written and recorded my own stuff ever since I could get my hands on some primitive recording equipment so technology started to play a bigger role in creating songs and music. I like cutting and pasting loops and processing phrases to create new textures and sounds you could never really play live too. The german band Can became a massive influence from the moment I heard them in terms of a different approach to creating music. I always go back to The Beatles and that first psychedelic era though, not necessarily for the sound (although sometimes definitely for that) but for their attitude to experimentation and exploration within a “pop” format.
How do you come up with the music you create?
It sounds impossible but it’s pretty much different for every song. There’s a unique moment of inspiration and that can come from something very autobiographical, so an emotional state I need to vent or it could be a musical or lyrical idea. A beat, a bassline, a melody, a word, seeing or hearing something in the street or news… I would say that, mostly, it comes from melodic lines that pop in my head though.
You work with a lot of artists through Moonbase Management, Please tell us how this started?
I work with a handful of people really. A few of them are collaborations between myself and others. Cherry Head, Cherry Heart came about because I sing with Naomi in The Southmartins and I wrote her a few songs which then became more like a duo. It’s interesting to write for someone else to sing and to take on a different perspective. It’s easier in a lot of ways as you can be more objective about it and see what works best or not. Also I have to prove to them that it’s decent so the standard of songcraft tends to be more precise.
You are also in Crimson Bloom How did the band get together?
It was, initially, just a solo album project. The Stone Roses released a couple of tracks and we half expected an album or more from them and it never materialised so I thought “I’m going to write another Roses album if they’re not going to”. I rattled the songs out and put the band together to play it. It’s become much more of a “real” thing now and we collaborate much more on the songs and writing. I don’t think of it as a Roses homage any more. We’re our own thing now and don’t feel we need to sound a certain way.
You just released Driving home for Christmas, Is this your favorite Christmas song?
Not really. I didn’t even really like it until a couple of years ago. I thought it was too schmaltzy and jazzy. Then I started gigging around more and often on my own so driving home around Christmas time had more significance and I got it almost all of a sudden. It was Ashley from Upcoming bands Hub that suggested it as a cover for us (amongst a few others for other bands) and I thought I’d give it a crack. I love what Pete’s done with the guitars on it. it’s just got a completely different feel that really works I think. We’ll probably release it properly next year. it was a bit rushed out this time.
How did you come to Manage Amelia Coburn?
I was gigging with Cherry Head, Cherry Heart in Stockton and she was on the bill. At the time she only played covers but it was stuff like Down In the Tube Station and old new wave and alt-pop stuff that made me think “where the hell is she getting these covers from?”. Turns out they’re all from her dad’s record collection. I gave her a few support spots with The Southmartins and she went down really well. When left my job as a teacher I had time on my hands so just said I could try and get her some better gigs out of noisy cafes and pubs. She was nominated for the Young Folk Awards after I said we should enter her (neither of us really thinking she had a chance). I think she knows that I get what she does or rather get what she doesn’t want to do.
What would you say is your favorite track of Amelia’s?
One you haven’t heard yet.
What would you Change about the music Industry?
The guillotine for anyone who exploits artists.
You have 50p in the jukebox what 3 tracks are going on?
Future Days – Can. They still sound like they’re from outer space..
A Day In The Life – The Beatles. For me the best record ever made.
I Am The Resurrection – You get your money’s worth!
Whats Next for You?
A few things going on with various projects. Amelia has a load of new, original material on the go and the next single is going to blow minds. I can’t think of a record out there like it. Writing and recording more Crimson Bloom material which is sounding quite different too. Some vague plans to tie up the loose ends with Cherry Head and, generally, hoping to get out and gig as soon as possible.
You can catch Andy on the link below.