The John: A Tough Year to Build a Music Career
The up-and-coming artist, The John talks, over the phone, about his creative process, his pre-teen language struggles, Life during quarantine, and what the future holds.
Despite moving between Italy and South Africa before finally settling in Leicestershire at aged fifteen, one thing was constant for the youngster: the riddim and base from the songs of legendary artist like 50 Cent, 2Pac, and Lauren Hill intrigued and inspired him, by the time The John got his chance in the studio in 2016, he was hooked.
Born to proud Angolan and Congolese parents in Italy, The John is multi-lingual, speaking Italian, Lingala, French, and English, which he incorporates into his most recent tracks.
“In the track ‘Murder She Wrote’ Lamzo, a fellow artist and friend, spoke French which then inspired me to speak Lingala. We put it together and it worked, so it was different but a good decision.” he says, taking a moment to gather his thoughts in-between every other word.
Although he prefers his lyrics to be in English to stop his parents from understanding some of his less parental friendly double-entendres, it also helps him improve on his English-speaking skills which all inheritably contributes to bettering his craft as a musician.
“English wasn’t good for me, I remember just going to school and making noise and not even studying English, it’s weird now because when I talk with my friends it’s funny because they remember how I use to speak, I’ve come a long way,” he says, laughing in remembrance.
On his single “Murder She Wrote”, The John continues to grow artistically, mixing intricate visuals to empathises the storytelling aspect of the artistry, along with a classic French afro trap melody. Although his music career is slowly finding its legs, it’s crucial to The John that as he eventually grows and widens his fan base, he remains in love and in control with the creative direction and production of his music.
“I like to be creative and make good stuff; with a good vibe and good energy, I don’t really like to collaborate with a lot of people just because the person may be bigger than me. If I like the energy then we can collab, it just depends. ” The John says.
In a moment of vulnerability, he expresses his uncertainty on whether he’s talented enough to make it in the music industry. This also shows how much he wants to succeed and perfect his craft. His ambition for this level of perfection is what will carry him through the music industry.
Last year and the beginning of this year have been a really tough time, and for some, it’s been an even more strenuous experience. Self- reflection has been The Johns calling card for some time now, in his single ‘Blessed’, he wishes the best for himself and the people around him, as he brings awareness to some of the dark realities and negativity from “people that don’t want to see you win. ” he says.
The underlying meaning is that not everyone wants to see you succeed they will instead try to ”steal your energy” but it’s important to keep positivity around you, ‘focus on the grind’ because regardless of anything else remember you’re blessed. This is a message that he particularly stands by during these Covid-19 times as his creativity has taken a hit due to lack of inspiration and isolation.
He says, “It’s been really hard, I’m the type of person that likes to be around people so the creativity has been low, I was trying but … I’ve always used music to cope with stress and escape from some of the things I may have been going through, a detraction, but it was difficult especially because I write about my life, if I’m staying at home there’s nothing to write about”
Like many artists The John doesn’t like to be limited to one genre of sound, “I don’t like to be put in a box, you may hear my music and categories it as trap or hip hop but ultimately I’m a creator of music” he says. His creative process and ethos involve simply trying to incorporate his own life experiences into his lyrics.
“I want to make sure with my songs, there’s something about my life, a memory, a future prediction a blessing, anything. Not every one that listens to my music is going to know me personally but I want them to get an idea of who I am through my content” he says.
With an already growing repertoire of music on YouTube and Spotify under TheJohn, he is aiming to grow his fan base in Leicestershire and solidify his position in the music industry.
So, what does the future hold for The John? His answer is meek but hopeful: ‘continue to make more music because I enjoy the process and I do it for myself first and foremost, everything else will come with hard work and in due time,” he says.