#PopularPlay: Johnny Ashby
Jun 27, 2020
The London born, LA-based artist Johnny Ashby is our #PopularPlay from today.
Debuting a new song called “Born Again” and working on a new EP that will be released in summer, Ashby does everything with soul and love.
His first EP “Cannonball Days” peaked at #9 in the iTunes songwriters chart and his music have been featuring on many TV show, including Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars and Baywatch.
Not everyone can achieve all of this, huh? We are proud of you Johnny!
The singer and songwriter shared with us how his music has grown since his first EP and what to expect for his future in the industry.
Got curious? Check it out the full interview with him – And go listen Born Again, please. This song is so intense!
1. Tell us about your song “Born Again”. What is it about?
Born Again is a song about failing and getting a second chance and it’s a song about wanting to live forever. We wrote it the week after Kobe died. There’s a lyric in there “24 forever in my mind” and I think that line speaks about being gone before your time. The recording process was all done in lockdown and it brought new meaning to the song for me. Like new beginnings and how everything kinda comes in cycles. It’s a moment of clarity in challenging times and holding on to hope when things feel impossibly tough. And I think we all need that moment of clarity right now. The last few months have been a spiral, a domino effect where one thing has led to the other. I think the pandemic has been an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start again. There’s been so much injustice and we’re seeing people stand together against racism. People want to make a change.”
2. Your song has been featured on a lot of iconic TV shows, such as Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars and you just got to play the guitars on the new Bill and Ted trailer. How does something like that come about?
I’m really lucky I get to work with some really amazing people who believe in what I do. They pitch my songs for things like TV shows, films, and commercials. It’s kind of surreal and I’m still not used to hearing my song on a show. I’m a big fan of Grey’s anatomy so when I got my song in a promo for that that was really humbling.
3. What do you think that differs your music from your first EP “Cannonball Days” to your latest single “Born Again”? What has changed?
Cannonball Days was back when I first started writing songs. I couldn’t really sing back then. I kind of had this husky Bob Dylan thing going on. Listening back now there’s stuff on that EP I would change but I think they really capture where I was at at that moment in time. Those songs still speak to me. I wrote Back in 1993 for my Dad. I’m really wearing my heart on my sleeve in those lyrics but I was still learning and honing my craft. Born Again, I think this is what I’ve always wanted to achieve. This big sound. My voice and songwriting have grown and developed and I’m really proud of that. It’s nice for me to listen back to my past stuff and hear that journey of growth.
4. Tell us about “Magnolia Hill”!
As a kid I used to have an imaginary friend haha I think everyone did. When I grew up this became more of an imaginary place. Magnolia Hill is that place. It’s made up, I had the title for a long time, I just thought it sounded cool. But the imagery in the lyrics is all inspired by places I’ve actually been to. The lyrics start in this very dark city-like place. “Lego blocks and fields of grey”. That’s LA, when you fly in everything looks like little Lego blocks. And then as the second verse comes in the lyrics start painting this picture of this amazing garden of Eden type place. “Petal seashells in a sea of green”, My Grandmother used to have this tree, and the petals used to fall on the grass and I thought they looked like seashells.
5. Who are your musical inspirations?
I’m a huge fan of David Bowie. I grew up listening to Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust. I love how he evolved as an artist and how he created those characters. I’m a huge fan of Damon Albarn too. Everything from Blur to Gorillaz and even his solo record. I love how he approaches everything with this “thinking outside the box” mentality. I’m also a big fan of Coldplay. They reinvent themselves with every album and I love that. Viva La Vida stands out for me. I heard they wrote some of the songs on that album with Chris recording the piano and the vocal topline. Then he sent just the vocals over to the rest of the band and they built the song up from that. That’s something I’ve always wanted to try. We were kind of forced to do that on Born Again and the other songs on the EP because we were in lockdown and everything had to be done remotely from home.
6. If you could work with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
7. Tell us about your upcoming projects and what to expect!
So Born Again is the single from my forthcoming EP. There are 5 tracks. They were all written and recorded in lockdown via Zoom calls and emails with my friends Bill, Fred, and Seb from the band Grizfolk. I’m expecting the EP to come out this Summer and we’ve just started writing and recording a second which I’m so excited about too! Haha, we’ve been joking that we might never see each other again except on FaceTime because it’s worked out so well!