//Can you give me a bit of a background about yourself and where you’re from?//
My name is Johnny, I'm an alternative hip-hop artist and producer from West Sydney. I’ve been active for just over a year now and since then I’ve been trying to craft a name for myself in the scene.
//How long have you been writing and rapping for?//
I was strictly a producer for a good year and a half before I decided giving rapping a shot, I just had so many beats and couldn’t find anyone to rap over them. Then one day a mate of mine encouraged me to try it – I recorded 'Finesse', my first track, in August last year and haven’t looked back.
//How did you fall into the rap scene?//
I was a massive metal-head up until like two years ago, when I started branching out and listening to more than just Iron Maiden and Thy Art. One of the first hip-hop albums I heard in its entirety was actually 'Yeezus' and if there is an album to bridge a metalhead into hip-hop well, that’d have to be it – at least for me. Once my old band broke up in November last year (RIP Under Night’s Cover), it gave me time to focus on Johnny From the Burbs and make sure I was pumping out stuff I was happy with.
//What is the origin of the name Johnny From the Burbs//
A mix of me being from the suburbs of Sydney, the 1989 film, 'The Burbs', starring Tom Hanks and of course, 'Jenny from the Block'.
//Which 3 artists would you consider to be your biggest inspiration?//
It would be so hard to point out just three but, in the realm of hip-hop: Tyler, the Creator, Denzel Curry and Kanye.
//Who do you have your eye on in the local scene?//
I’m looking up to guys from around my area like Kwame – who is really making a different lane for Aussie hip-hop – some local acts I’ve been super keen on though are Needham, the big boy comes from the same area and is one of the hardest rappers around and my man Ch0sn, who actually features on my EP. Also – shoutout New Wave Crew!
//What are some of the most memorable things you’ve done, or have been a part of in the time you’ve been an Emcee?//
One of my mates shot a music video on my iPhone for me while we were in Times Square at like 12:30am. That was legit so surreal.
//How do you view you and your journey now as opposed to when you started?//
I think the way I’ve approached my journey into hip-hop is super unique. It started out very tongue-in-cheek, basically a parody of itself, until I started realising that this is actually resonating with some people. I think there is a clear, clear improvement from my first EP to my third, and I’m glad there are many who agree!
//What's some of your favourite wordplay / lyrical content?//
Some of my fave lyrics that I’ve written would be off of the track 'Dreamliner' from the "Propaganda"EP:
“I got orchids, bloomin’ outta my mind,
bruised petals dropping in time,
tryna get enough sun so my vision sets into prime focus”
Super personal and introspective for me, with a spicy floral motif running through the whole verse.
Some of my favourite lyrics from other artists would have to be from “If Tomorrow’s Not Here” by Denzel Curry:
“If tomorrow's not here, I write down all of my worst fears, Fear of loss, fear of change, fear of losing my peers, Apparently I will watch the whole world collapse and appear
No tears, my intuition tells me that the end is near
//Can you explain what goes on during the writing process?//
I think out of like, the 22 or so tracks I have released, I have produced 19 of them. Recording goes down in my room and up until halfway recording this EP, I didn’t even have a proper set-up.
100% of the time, I make the beat first. I go in with a mood and depending on that mood I try to create something reflective of that. I got angry beats, joyous beats, strange beats. Lyrics are being written whenever and where ever. I prefer writing to the beat itself but I’m always writing.
I’ll probably make another BTS video for a beat one day – I dunno.
//What does your latest release “Propaganda” mean to you?//
This EP is like, a culmination of my development as an artist over the past year. I think it’s my strongest release in terms of production, lyricism and sonics – by a mile, and that’s not to discount my past EPs either. This EP tackles themes close to my mind and heart such as self-reflection, loyalty, politics and civil rights.
//If you could change one thing about the scene, what would it be?//
I love how tight-knit it is: Everybody knows each other and is keen on putting each other up though, if I could change one thing? I’d like to see Aussie hip-hop follow the reigns of US hip-hop, in the way that its just become the mainstream there – overtaking rock, indie etc. as the most popular genre of music. That’d be mad here.
//You’ve dropped three EPs in the past year, how has the reception been?//
When I dropped my first EP, 'Springtime Sorrows' it was like, a drop in an ocean – I got a bit of radio play from community stations and heaps of support from friends, however, the receptions to 'Bradenton' were definitely a lot more extended. I’m very keen to see how 'Propaganda' goes!
//How important is it to network with other artists?//
I love networking and connecting with other artists; to be honest, this isn’t a one-man game. Sure you can run as a lone wolf, but, you still need to put up ya mates, local artists and such – we all come up together.