A Conversation with the Johnsons

The Johnsons

(Photo courtesy of Effective Immediately PR)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is a pleasure to welcome Clayton, Chantry, and Connor Johnson to Jake’s Take.

Hailing from Los Angeles, the Johnsons are taking the pop rock genre by storm. Collectively, both Clayton and Chantry were in the respective line-ups of recording groups Stereo Skyline and The Cab. Their groups had the unique privilege of opening up for bands that they idolized including All Time Low, Good Charlotte, Maroon 5, and Third Eyed Blind.  After both of their commitments to their bands ended, they regrouped with their brother, Connor, and started created their brand of music.

In 2014, the Johnsons began releasing cover videos that caught the ears of Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Nick Jonas.  In July 2015, the brothers sky-rocked to fame when they released their first original song and music video, “Kick It,” where they performed the song on the popular E! reality series: The Rich Kids of Beverly Hills.  They also toured with fellow YouTube sensations Cimorelli and Con Bro Chilli, collaborated with X Factor USA and Nickelodeon star Rachel Crow and dancer Alyson Stoner.  In addition to their accomplishments, Billboard also premiered their single, “Scream,” earlier this year and described the Johnsons as an act who were fans of Hanson and Jonas Brothers back in the day.

In this edition of A Conversation, The Johnsons talked about overcoming the challenges they face breaking into the music industry, described their songwriting process, and revealed their dream collaborators.

Jacob Elyachar: When did the three of you get interested in music? How did that passion evolve into the desire of pursuing a music career?

Clayton Johnson: The three of us grew up together with music being a part of our lives from the very beginning. Our dad was heavy into musical theater, and a former drama teacher. He had us singing and performing for our friends and family from as early as I can remember. In 2003 at the height of the Warped Tour and punk pop scene, I received my first guitar, and it was nonstop from there. We all were self-taught, often jamming along to blink-182 songs in the one bedroom all of us shared. We all played in countless bands throughout high school. I spent one semester in junior college and couldn’t do it. Not the schooling, but I was so uneasy about sitting in a classroom when there was a possibility to see the world and do what I had fallen in love with. On Christmas Day, I packed my car and drove 30 hours to Dallas to join a MySpace band. I have been touring and playing ever since. After Connor graduated college, and Chance finished touring with The Cab, it made sense for us to pick up where we left off in the bedroom we once shared.

JE: Could you please describe your songwriting process to my readers?

Chantry Johnson: We have all been writing music since we were pretty young. We love using our creativity and wordsmithing to create something memorable. Our songwriting process has grown a lot over years of learning and practicing. For us now, our goal is to have the listener remember the song, whether a key phrase, word or melody, after just one listen. We take the songwriting process seriously, combing over every detail, and striving for a final product we are proud of. The great thing about having three of us in the studio is that if two of us don’t agree, we have the third as a tiebreaker!

JE: What are some of the challenges that the group has faced breaking into the music industry? How have you overcome them?

Clayton: Chantry and I have been in the music industry for over ten years, both of us in bands signed to major labels, and touring all over the world with bands we grew up listening to. Maroon 5, Good Charlotte, Third Eye Blind, All Time Low, and many others. We have an able to learn from the top in the business and to learn from our mistakes. One challenge for us is how music has progressed to streaming and YouTube. Joel Madden (Good Charlotte) told me his band sold something like 10,000 TAPE cassettes out of the back of their car when they were first starting out, just to try and get their name out locally.  To look now that anyone with a camera can upload music with people all over the world being able to see it at the click of a button is pretty wild. We have been able to take what we have learned from some of these “old school” guys, and learn from some new up-and-comers as well to find that balance.

JE: The Johnsons have embraced social media. What are some of your favorite social media channels to use? Why are those channels your favorites?

Connor: I graduated from Columbia College in Chicago studying photography. Visual art has always been a passion of mine. For us started out as this group, we embraced YouTube as a way to not only share ourselves musically but visually as well. There is a lot more to us than just the music we right, and YouTube has been such a perfect place for us as independent artists to share and to be seen and heard.

JE: If the group had the opportunity to collaborate with any singer, songwriter, producer or band of your choice? Who would be at the top of your list?

Chantry: Oh man…for me Bruno Mars, Timbaland, and Max Martin are my top three. All of them are creative geniuses; I would just want to soak as much information as I could from them.

Connor: I grew up as a pop punk kid, but Hip-hop for me is right up there. I have really inspired it musically and visually. Mike Will Made It would be an excellent collaboration for us.

Clayton: I was blessed enough to hang with Brian Littrell from the Backstreet Boys a couple of weeks ago. He and I, BOHNES (Alex DeLeon) and Hudson Thames spent an hour discussing the songwriting process and the genius that is Max Martin. He is my number one, with THE DREAM a close second.

JE: If you had the chance to meet with aspiring bands who want to work in the recording industry, what advice would you share with them?

Chantry: Be in it for the right reasons. Understand it takes some people overnight, and some people years to reach the same place in their career. Do not compare yourself to anyone, and stay true to yourself. Keep creating, keep working, and persevere.

You can keep up with the Johnsons on social media by visiting their Facebook, Google +, Instagram, Twitter, & YouTube channels.

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar