We had the opportunity to catch up with singer/songwriter John Michael Young! A former member of Lunar Vacation, Young is a veteran of the indie scene and is someone definitely worth checking out. He just dropped a brand new single "Do You Really Want It?" yesterday so give it a listen. But first, check out our interview!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"I started guitar lessons at age 9, and picked up other instruments in the subsequent years such as drums, bass, mandolin, and keyboard. Guitar is probably my most proficient instrument, but I really like to go all John Bonham on the drums!"
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"I record using Ableton Live 10, so most the time I write the music as I track it. I typically start with a guitar part, whether it be a riff or a chord progression, but other songs may start with me messing around on my Juno 106 synthesizer. After laying down some chords or a riff, I’ll typically loop it with a drum machine beat and jam on it to get other ideas out. Anything that sticks out I will record and add it to the loop till I have something of a full band sound laid out. Then I try to draw the rest of the song out, either copying and pasting those verse/chorus chords, and making empty space on the grid for a bridge or whatever I think should be in the song. A demo may include a lot of the same takes looped throughout the song. I usually leave the vocal melody for last, but sometimes it can be a good starting point after the chords are laid down. After all the final parts are recorded, I take the tracks to a studio and record live drums over it and it’s ready to be mixed."
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"Ever since I got into indie/DIY driven music, Tame Impala has been an artist that has really stuck out to me and set a standard of production and soundscape creation. I’m also heavily influenced by Tycho, who creates electronic music blended with real instruments, like acoustic drums and electric guitar. During my freshman year of college, my friend took me to a SALES show, and since then I have fallen in love with their music for its tasteful arrangement and perfect use of fewer instrument layers compared to Tame Impala and Tycho. I had the opportunity to tour and spend time with the SALES crew and they’ve really helped me learn a lot about the industry and how to make it as a DIY artist. I have a lot of respect for them."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"My prized synthesizer is the Roland Juno 106. I had originally bought an Alpha Juno, but when I saw a Craigslist ad for one in Athens, GA, I couldn’t pass up. I bought the keyboard for a 3rd of the market price, and it came with calibration issues. So being in high school and knowing nothing about electronics, I started posting and got support on a vintage synthesizer forum, probably full of guys my dad’s age. I bought an oscilloscope and recalibrated the instrument and brought it to a basement repair shop for further tuning. I also recently bought the John Mayer Silver Sky PRS Strat, which is my new favorite guitar. I used to have a John Mayer Signature Stratocaster that I really liked, but it became unrepairable after too many days in the sun when I was in high school marching band. For pedals, I won’t do without my Boss DD-20 delay paired with a blues driver and compressor. Oh, and reverb of course!"
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"I have yet to play a live show under this project (my first show is 11/2/19) BUT with my former band, Lunar Vacation, our shows were typically high energy and full of youthful people. First and foremost, I would like for my shows to be a safe place for all people to come and listen to music and socialize. I like to float around and say hi to all my friends and meet new people! I enjoy venues that have their own restaurant or bars, because it makes it easier to get a bite before I play my set. A kind sound man is always a plus."
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"I want people to know that I have truly poured a lot of emotion and creative energy into making the music. I hope that they will feel like the music is giving them a nice, warm hug. I’m making music so that I can deliver some of my shared experiences and emotions to people and allow them to be able to relate and grow as well."
7. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
"Stay tuned for more singles and shows to come, and you can expect an EP early 2020! And the rap album is coming 2030!"