Damien Johnson is a talented musician from Australia who has released his new release Your Woman, Damien’s first single of 2021 is a noisy industrial cover of the White Town hit. This is what he had to say about it all.
1. What inspired the new material?
The inspiration to create this album was firstly born from a desire to improve on last year’s release, ‘Passive Aggression’, and create something that was heavier, had higher production value and yet could still be performed live as a solo performer. The content inspiration came through daily thoughts, personal experiences and simply finding a platform to voice my own inner workings.
2. What is the inspiration behind the new release?
I have to create! It’s not optional for me. I don’t need to look hard for inspiration because my brain doesn’t switch off from analysing, contemplating, reflecting and formulating ideas that I have to give voice to. In same ways the hardest part is finding the focus to sit with one idea, and give it enough time and energy to be well formulated. That’s something I’m still learning to do, and is another reason I wanted to make this album. In hindsight, I think ‘Passive Aggression’ was half baked, and the EP i released the year before, ‘Parked’ , was even more raw, so with ‘Girl’ you can see I am really learning to slow down my process and construct higher quality material.
3. Are you happy how it has been received?
So far the four singles that have been released have all been well received. I probably expected, ‘Crowd In My Hand’ to have done better than it did, because I think it’s a great song, and sort of flew under the radar, but it was the first released single, and I was very much an unknown artist then. I’m still quite unknown, but you can see the momentum building, and I hope that as people get into the album, they may revisit some of the earlier singles from it.
4. Was the recording process different to earlier recordings?
The primary difference was the instrumentation. On ‘Passive Aggression’ ALL the sounds are organic. There is a lot of guitars, the percussion is all beat-boxed, and even the ambient noises on that album were all done with my vocals. ‘Girl’ is the opposite. Apart from vocals and the odd guitar lick or bass line, the overwhelming majority of sounds are created using synthesizers and samplers. For me that gave far more flexibility to chop and change things as the songs developed, and also meant that the ideas could develop during the recording. I certainly preferred the recording process in ‘Girl’ a lot more, and have found my niche as an alt-electro-rock artist.
5. Since live shows in public were shut down last year and slowly opening up again did that give you inspiration for what you were writing?
It definitely comes through in some songs, ‘Enemy’ in particular has very explicit references to lockdowns and being in isolation, but I think the overwhelming amount of COVID related content over the past 12 months, whether through music references, or on Social Media, has actually been done ad-nauseum. I personally am sick of hearing about it, and so my inspiration came more from personal reflections on what it means to be human more than from anything specifically pandemic related.
6. Have you been to a gig since gigs are happening back here in Australia?
I’ve been to several. I regularly frequent open mics, and almost religiously attend the Wednesday Open Mic at my local Bar, ‘Banshees’ because I love the community and culture that it brings. I’ve also been to watch a number of my friends perform at various venues. You can’t beat the live experience.
7. How important to you are things like social media?
I use social media, but it’s not that important to me. For me it’s a tool to communicate and connect with other people, and I use it as such. I don’t get swept up in the fads of what new platforms are trending though. I only use what gives value to me and my audience. Ideally I want to live a life where I am not a slave to a screen, and I would want that for my followers too, so I keep my social media to Facebook and Instagram, because everything I want to achieve through Social Media I can do on those platforms. I’m sure twitch and tiktok etc are fun and have their perks, but for me, jumping on board new platforms just because they are popular doesn’t align with who I want to be.
8. What the best piece of advice you have been given?
My dad once said to me, ‘Remember, it’s not the end of the story’, and this has always stuck with me. To me this advice is encouragement to realise that however shit a situation may be at a time, or no matter how hopeless or behind the eightball I feel, the story doesn’t end here. I suffer chronic depression, so I often experience periods of extended melancholy and episodes of suicidal ideation, so this advice has been critical for my survival. Literally. Thinking about life as a story actually helps me think about my favourite stories, and those situations where the lead character was in absolute peril, and yet somehow always finds a way through. That is reassuring to me, and actually makes me excited about how I will get through my dark periods.
9. What do you love about the scene where you are from?
The Ipswich music scene is amazing. We have a lot of very diverse and talented people where I come from, and they are all so humble and supportive of each other. Our venues are very supportive too, and because it’s such a supportive community, everyone gets to know everyone, and you feel significant in what you are doing. For me as an artist, experiencing significance is more important than earning money.
10. What is next for you?
I’m excited to see what opportunities ‘Girl’ creates and am preparing myself to take as many of those opportunities as I can when they arise. Irrespective of the success of ‘Girl’, I have already begun work on the next album, and have a very clear goal of releasing a new album every year between now and 2030. I also plan to be gigging a lot more over the next twelve months and taking my live show to new towns, venues and audiences, and am presently working on developing a team to assist with that.