Would you drop everything like an opportunity to head to college for music? It happens and that’s exactly what Johnnie Mikel did! We’re always told to chase our dreams and Mikel is out there chasing his to be a successful up-and-coming Pop artist. He’s introducing himself to the world with his new single “Come With Me” that’ll get you for sure dancing or at least tapping your foot along with the beat. We had a chance to chat with the budding artist to talk all about his start in music, his experiences living in different cities, and what we can expect to hear from him over the next few months!
The Young Folks: For our readers who are just hearing about you for the first time, tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get your start in the music industry? How did you decide that this is the career you wanted to pursue?
Johnnie Mikel: Thanks so much for having me! I’m Johnnie Mikel, a 20-year-old pop artist based out of Los Angeles. My whole life I’ve always been a creative individual. I was always writing growing up, whether that was journaling, short stories, poetry… really any form of it. It’s kind of how I expressed myself from a young age and it felt very natural. I also loved music, but never imagined I would one day be working in the industry. When I was 14 years old, I picked up a guitar for the first time on a whim and began turning some of my writings into songs. Again, it came about very naturally… but after that moment, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! I had some good options ahead of me when it was time to go to college. I was actually accepted into Belmont University’s Songwriting program, which is something I dreamt about for years. But a few weeks before school started, I had some big opportunities come up in LA and I decided to take a risk and embark on my career. I’m really happy with how things have gone so far.
TYF: What is the first song you remember playing or writing when you received your first guitar at 14?
Mikel: When I first started taking guitar lessons, I remember learning all sorts of material over several decades of music, which was interesting. I gained a lot of knowledge about the classics during that time. The first song my teacher ever taught me was “Bird Dog” by the Everly Brothers!
TYF: In fact, you play quite a few instruments. What triggered your love for music and learning different instruments?
Mikel: As soon as I discovered that playing and songwriting was what I loved, I wanted to absorb as much knowledge as possible. I signed up for any lessons I could at the time and even learned some folk instruments like banjo and mandolin. I realized early on that the more instruments I could play, the better-rounded I would be as a musician and a writer. It really helped me when I first started writing in Nashville.
TYF: You moved around pretty often but you found yourself within each city, especially in New York. What has been your favorite memory while living in each city?
Mikel: Kentucky is where I’m originally from and I love how relaxing it is there. It’s nice when I get to go back home and slow down the pace a bit. I feel like it was an awesome place to spend my childhood and gave me a great foundation. When I moved to New York City, it was such a culture shock and unlike anything I’d experienced before that point. I loved it! My creativity really came alive and I loved all the music, fashion, art, and culture there. I feel like without my years in Manhattan, I wouldn’t be doing what I am right now. From there, I moved to Nashville… that’s where I consider the start of music for me. I wrote my first songs in Music City and I’m so grateful for all the knowledge and experience I’ve been given there. Now I’m based out of LA, which I love! Although it’s much different that New York, I love how both places are so huge and are full of endless possibility. There’s so many things to do! I just really love the vibe of the west coast and the music scene out here. It’s still the hub for pop music and I’m grateful to be spending time here.
TYF: With so many artists putting music out left and right, what makes your music different?
Mikel: I feel like I’m bringing something new to the table, no doubt… I love all the artists out right now and am constantly inspired by their work. But I feel like there’s no male pop artist in the industry right now that’s super visual with their performances and is focused on a fashion-forward edge. I have a message I want to bring into the industry through my music. It’s all about being you. I’m really inspired by artists like David Bowie and I’d love to have a career as innovative as his… just with a modern pop twist.
TYF: Huge congratulations on your single “Come With Me”! It’s such a feel good song. Why did you decide to introduce yourself to the music world with that particular song? Was there another song you were considering on putting out first?
Mikel: Thanks so much! I’m extremely grateful for all the love the song has received lately. I decided to choose “Come with Me” as my debut single, because like you said, it’s such a feel good track! It’s definitely the most energetic in my catalog. I went back and forth on a couple other options for the lead single, but deep down I always knew “Come with Me” was the vibe and message I wanted to put out first. I feel like the song catches me in a really fun light that’s still got a bit of an edge to it. I’m so glad we decided to choose it to start with, but I’m still anticipating everyone getting to hear what else I have to offer.
TYF: The accompanying music video definitely motivates you to get up and dance. How did you come up with the vision of the video?
Mikel: I’m insanely proud of the video and am so happy with how it turned out. It’s so similar to how I envisioned it. Bobby Hewitt was the director and he killed it. I feel like the visual is aesthetically very true to who I am as an artist. There’s bright colors mixed with some darkness and overall an edgy dance vibe. It really evokes a bit of mystery. When coming up with the concept, I had several conversations with Bobby and my creative team over the phone and in person. One of the first things I threw out was how I wanted the video to have a “fashion-forward feel.” We no doubt achieved that and created something truly unique. I added in some other ideas like the television set, drinks, Polaroids, and ultimately waking up. I also worked closely with wardrobe on my looks for the shoot. It’s a very personal project and I’m so happy I had such creative control. Seeing the positive reaction from everyone has simply been the best.
TYF: Hopping off the previous question, what’s the one song (other than your own) that you constantly put on repeat that will automatically make you dance or happy?
Mikel: Currently, I am obsessed with the new Bruno/Cardi B Remix to “Finesse”! I’ve had it on repeat most days since it dropped. The video is insane. I love it.
TYF: When can we expect more new music? What do you hope to accomplish in the New Year?
Mikel: This year is going to be even bigger and better than 2017 and I’m so excited! I can’t share a ton of details just yet, but I do have an EP ready to drop in the next couple months. It’s something I’m very proud of. I’m also working on some options for touring – which is actually my favorite part of the whole process. Overall, 2018 is going to be a year of hard work, fun, travel, and making my dreams a reality. I can’t wait to get back on the road and thank everyone face to face for supporting my journey.