An Interview With The Rising Pop Musician, JOHNNIE MIKEL About His Breakout Single ‘Come With Me’ and More!
Posted On 30 Oct 2017
Johnnie Mikel is a brilliant new young pop artist. He writes great songs and works with top name remixers. His debut single “Come With Me” hits this month and will be launching at Top 40 Pop Radio.
“I’m so excited about, Come With Me, he says of his lead single. “I’ve spent a lot of quality time defining my sound and exactly what I want to say,” he continues. The new music showcases who he is an artist and it’s the world’s first glimpse of what he’s about. “The new songs are very personal to me and I’m so blessed to have crafted the album with phenomenal songwriters and producers.”
Learn more about Mikel in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood? What is a song you are loving these days?
Thanks for having me! I am currently in the studio in Burbank, California. In between writing and recording, I’m currently loving Kesha’s new record. Can’t get it off repeat! I have it playing in the background right now and it’s definitely my favorite at the moment. One of my all-time faves to get me out of a bad mood is Soak Up The Sun by Sheryl Crow. It reminds me of some of the best memories from my childhood.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
Growing up, I always loved writing and thought I would be in journalism one day. My dad was very instrumental in my love for music. In some of my earliest musical memories, my dad would play his records in our home. My favorite was always I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles. Whenever he would turn it on, my sister and I would sing running around our house and dancing like crazy.
Musically, did you approach this year any differently then you did last year? How has 2017 been treating you and your career? What are you most excited about for in 2018?
My approach to 2017 was much more focused than that of 2016. This has been the year of me finally defining my sound and honing my skills in the best way possible. A lot of planning, preparation, and hard work went into my new music.
While this year has been very fast-paced, I definitely took a step back before running to the studio to make sure I was as honest and evolved in my artistry as I could be to this point. 2017 has been an incredibly journey of self-discovery and connecting with amazing individuals in the industry. Because this year has been so impactful, I feel like 2018 will be monumental. More than anything, I can’t wait to hit the road and start playing my new material live! Being in the studio is great, but nothing tops performing for me!
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown has affected you and your music today? How do you think you influenced musically by living in both Nashville and LA?
I’ve definitely been influenced by my hometown in Kentucky, my 5 years living in Manhattan, being in Nashville, and now in LA. Growing up in the south, I came from a very close family who always encouraged me to follow my path. I got a great foundation which helped me build my confidence and my love for others. From Kentucky, I experienced a major culture-shock when my family relocated to New York City when I was 11 years old. I feel like my time in New York definitely inspired me to express my creativity and not be afraid. I love the bold energy that Manhattan provides. During this period in my life, I definitely came out of my shell and was ready to move to Nashville to start my career as an artist in the industry. Music City holds a special spot in my heart, as it’s where I experienced many “firsts” in my career. I learned to write my first songs in Nashville and stepped on stage for the first time. Nashville helped me grow as a writer, singer, and artist before my big move to LA. Los Angeles is definitely my favorite place to write and record. Not only is it the pop music capital, I feel extremely liberated in my creativity while spending time on the west coast. Altogether, I’m blessed to have spent time in so many distinct places in 19 years of life. I’ve learned so many amazing lessons at each stop along the way and have definitely been influenced by so many landscapes and individuals.
I find it interesting to ask newcomers to the entertainment industry what they think of it all. What has surprised you about it all?
More than anything, I was so surprised to see how much goes on behind the scenes. There’s so much planning and preparation which takes place several months in advance before a live show or release. There’s a lot of early mornings and late nights… you never really know what to expect! But honestly, that’s my favorite thing about the industry. I’m a hard-worker, but I also appreciate some spontaneity.
What was the inspiration for your current new single “Come with Me”? What was it like putting it together along with your very first full collection of songs? Were there any unexpected challenges? How do you think “Come with Me” introduces listeners to who you are as a musician?
Before I created Come with Me, I knew there was a piece missing in my project. I was looking for a big dance number in my catalog. I expressed my interest in creating a huge club track with a great “all-inclusive” lyric to my A&R. I wanted to bring everyone to the dance floor! She soon connected me with my producer Damon Sharpe who brought in Lindy Robbins as a co-writer. Working with both of them on Come with Me was a dream. We nailed the vibe I was looking for!
When it comes to the entire catalog of songs I made this year, I feel like the only challenge along the way was choosing the first single. I got to work with multiple top producers and songwriters in the game, many of whom penned some of my favorite songs of all-time! The entire process was a lot of hard work, but it was so worth it in the end. I absolutely love every song and successfully captured who I am as an artist. I also made several friends for life during this project, which is always a huge bonus in working with new people!
Come with Me is a great introduction of myself to the general public. I feel like the song catches me in a fun light, while still maintaining a mature vibe. It no doubt captures my love for dance and going out. I can’t wait for everyone to hear the rest of my material and get to see my more introspective and edgy music.
Can you talk about your involvement with the organization One Word Foundation? How has it been going lately? How can our readers get involved?
Of course! The One Word Foundation is something I begin creating a couple years ago, specifically after a song of mine titled “One.” The story behind the song is about the power of our words and actions – and how they can build others up, or unfortunately tear them down. I love the fact that I can share this message and use my music gifts for good and impact the lives of individuals – specifically youth. Through my organization, I’ve been able to travel and play for kids at Boys & Girls Club locations, community centers, and music education programs. I get to share my new songs with them in a live, laid back environment and get to talk with them. I use this platform in which I’ve been given to encourage kids to be themselves and be kind to one another. It’s definitely where my heart is and what I want my music to represent. Last year, I accepted donations for various charities which uphold these values at all of my live shows on behalf of the One Word Foundation. By the end of 2016, we raised over $70,000 for charities close to my heart. The events lately have been phenomenal, and I can’t wait to see where 2018 takes the One Word Foundation. To get involved, keep an eye out for my live performances benefitting the One Word Foundation charities.
With the summer over now, what was something fun or new that you tried this summer?
One of my favorite memories from summer 2017 was discovering this place in Nashville that does zip-lining at midnight through the woods. They have some of the biggest and tallest lines in TN! A few of my friends and I signed up and we basically had this place to ourselves for a few hours… it was awesome! We blasted music the whole time and befriended our guide before the night was over. I’m always up for anything fun like that and being the night owl I am, zip-lining through the complete darkness with some of my favorite people was one of my most memorable moments in the recent months. So random, but such a great night!
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these hard times?
Unfortunately, that’s true… there’s so much going on in our world right now and at times things seem hectic. There’s a lot of hatred out there and our society is so divided. But honestly, being a creator in this era has given me even more drive to send love and give my listeners a safe space. I’ve always wanted people to feel accepted and give them an escape when listening to my music. I want my fans who to listen to my songs and communicate with me on social media to view me as one of their friends, because that’s exactly how I view them. The best thing an artist can do in our world today is build bridges between individuals and embrace human connection through music. We have to empower people, let them know they’re valuable, and remind them that, they too, have a voice. We’re honestly more alike than we are different, and once we realize that, I believe we’ll become unstoppable. In the meantime, I believe artists need to use their influence for
good and continue to shine a light on communities that are hurting. I’m so glad that many of my favorite music artists today are choosing to take this path of hope. I love hearing the raw emotion and realness being spread today by these individuals that are aiming to heal themselves and others. It lets people know they’re not alone.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I have so many different influences from across the board! I think a lot of people would be shocked to hear the vastness of my favorite artists and inspirations. My dad always played Beatles records and my mom is a big Aerosmith fan, so I have a major respect for classics from years before I was born. Movin’ Out by Billy Joel is actually one of my favorite songs of all time! I’m always searching to pick up on performance aspects from the greats. On the other hand, growing up in the early 2000’s, I loved artists like Justin Timberlake and John Mayer. I would love to work with them! Britney Spears is also a huge influence of mine. She’s actually my favorite modern pop artist. Anyone who knows me personally can tell you about my love for Brit Brit! Finally, from learning how to write songs in Nashville, I picked up a lot of storytelling elements in my songwriting from listening to country music legends. Even though I’m a pop artist, I feel like I have an interesting mix of many people in my music.
Style-wise, I’ve always gotten compared to David Bowie. I love groundbreaking artists like him! I aspire to have a certain edge to my music and style… I was telling some friends the other day that I want to become the Gerard Way of pop music!
What do you hope fans take away from your music? Do you think that your music has an overall message at all?
If people are having a bad day and begin listening to my music, I want to get them moving and feeling better. My music is all about expression, not caring what people think, and becoming the truest version of yourself. Even my new single “Come with Me” can attest to that, there’s no doubt an underlying message of not being afraid and becoming uninhibited when going out. Whether I’m doing a big dance track like Come with Me or even a more introspective lyrical song, I feel like that’s the message I want to spread the most. Just love!
How active are you on social media? How important has it all been to your career so far?
I’m very active on social media! I love using Instagram to share what I’m experiencing with my fans and talking with them. There’s definitely good and bad to social media, but my favorite thing is how easy it is for an artist to directly communicate with their supporters. Because I’m all about that connection, social media has been very important in my career to this point. With that being said, I’m always quick to remind people that it’s only a part of my identity and that my songs are what I want them to connect with the most.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about becoming a musician one day?
My best advice is to know yourself. Never lose your identity as a human being, an artist, your values, your morals… and to find your voice! There’s no other way to do that than through confidence in experimenting with new sounds and styles.
Keep evolving! Once you’ve identified exactly who you want to be, it feels like heaven. Secondly, surround yourself with amazing people. It could be family, friends, your team… anyone who accepts you for who you are and stands by your side no matter what. It truly is a crazy industry and having people who love your company for the right reasons and whom you trust is an absolute must.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself, your music or the show?
I want people to realize that I’m an artist on a mission. I have something to say, something to give, and I hope people receive that. Unfortunately, I believe there’s a misconception among some of the general public that pop artists and their music is “surface” or “cookie cutter.” As an old soul and a passionate creator, I beg to differ. It’s not about the fame, fortune, or followers. It’s how you make people feel about themselves that will always be remembered.