John Johanna is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who records to cassette and reel to reel tape at his home in rural Norfolk, and with producer and Faith & Industry records head honcho Kristian Craig Robinson (Capitol K) at Total Refreshment Centre in London. John Johanna is gearing up to release his new record ‘I’ll Be Ready When The Great Day Comes’ via Faith & Industry on 26th January 2018, the record draws from a range of John Johanna tracks comprising four re-mastered tracks that previously appeared on a now sold out limited cassette tape run and four new tunes. His previous releases have been supported on BBC 6Music by DJs such as Tom Robinson and Jon Hillcock.
John Johanna’s eclectic output uses psychedelia and oriental tonalities, primal gospel blues and folk – among other ingredients – to create a body of diverse yet coherent devotional music. Intensely personal and yet totally universal, the eight tracks trace a line between devotional music of east and west. ‘Bound’ is a yearning ballad that was written for a deceased friend and recalls their discussions on the Greek mythology of Prometheus. ‘Rock My Soul’ an adaptation of traditional words from the blues gospel lineage. ‘Knowledge And Power, Nathaniel’ is a rendering of an Indian Raga. The title track ‘I’ll Be Ready When The Great Day Comes’ has a full live band accompaniment. ‘World Unknown’ features a lyrical narrative derived text by 1700s hymn writer and theologian Isaac Watts. When asked about his contemporary influences John Johanna says he feels a certain kinship with artists who’s spirituality inspires their creativity such as Sufjan Stevens or Robbie Basho, but, as he puts it, he is “inspired by and aspires to approach the spirit of the (to me) anonymous musicians I hear in folk field recordings from around the world, in classical Indian dhrupad singers, in outsider musicians, in the hissing cassette recordings of the underground electric guitarists of NW Africa and so on. And I sometimes use ‘non-Western’ scales and tunings for two reasons: firstly I find them to be effective ways to enter different states of mind and trance states, and secondly because my faith, Eastern Orthodox Christianity (the primal form of Christianity), is an Oriental one. And so for me it feels right and fitting that I should sometimes use Oriental scales when I make my devotional music”.
John Johanna’s live shows are characteristically solo performances, his voice and raw guitar style accompanied by beats from his trusty four track tape deck, they channel the transcendent feeling he aspires to convey. In the last year he’s played sets at End Of The Road Festival and a multitude of support slots with label mates Blue House and Super Best Friends Club, amongst others. The record features a guest turn from other Total Refreshment Centre regular Alabaster dePlume. A full-length album is currently in final stages and to be expected later in 2018.
Don’t miss his live performance tonight:
John Johanna live & guests
Wed 24th January 2018 – Servant Jazz Quarters, London.