johnny gates

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with singer-songwriter Johnny Gates

Johnny Gates is a multi-talented singer-songwriter who is ready to draw you into his world with his personal yet relatable music.

Starting off his music career in bands, Johnny has experienced a number of exciting opportunities, from chasing the American dream in Nashville, to supporting the legendary Rod Stewart on tour.

Now, Johnny is branching out as a solo artist. Having already given the world a taste of what he has to offer whilst competing on The Voice, the singer-songwriter is currently working on the release of his upcoming EP not a burnt cd. 

In preparation for the EP, last month Johnny unveiled ‘cliché’, a compelling offering which tells the story of an ex lover. The track gives us a small insight into what we can expect from his EP and we couldn’t be more excited for it.

We recently had the chance to chat to Johnny about ‘cliché’, his upcoming EP, his experience on The Voice and much more.

Congratulations on the release of your new single ‘cliché’. What has the reception been like so far?

Thanks! It’s been pretty amazing so far. We just hit 60,000 streams, in a little over a week, which is by far the most streams I’ve ever had with a song. So let’s party.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the song?

My girlfriend at the time booked a trip to come visit me out in Los Angeles, but before the actual trip happened, we broke up. She decided to take the trip anyway, and even though we knew we couldn’t make it work, we hung out anyway, andddd you know where that can lead. I remember standing in her Air BnB driveway, super late, just telling myself, stop being so cliché. Went home and wrote it immediately. 

You wrote the song in about an hour in the early hours of the morning – is this a typical way of songwriting for you? How quickly do your songs normally come together?

Honestly, cliché was kind of a rare songwriting experience for me. There were so many emotions happening that night and I may have been a little buzzed haha. Normally, I like to head to the rehearsal studio and write on the electric with the amps up loud and singing through the PA. More of a band practice kind of vibe. 

What’s your favourite lyric from the song?

I really like the bridge. I wanted to make it super conversational. If I had to pick a specific line, I’d probably go with “you’ll probably find yourself a boy, he’ll look a bit like me, tattoos in some cheesy band, but baby he ain’t me”. I never write stuff like that, so I’m into it ha. 

Will there be a music video for the song? If so, what can we expect from it?

I’m not sure if we’re going to do a full blown video, but I just recently shot a live video that was shot entirely on an old VHS video camera from the 80s or 90s! So I’m pretty pumped about that. 

Cliché is taken from your upcoming EP not a burnt cd. What can you tell us about the EP and what we can expect from it?

So this will be my first ever solo release. It’s by far the most personal I’ve ever got lyrically. And I really wanted the entire EP to feel raw and honest. Almost like you’re in the studio with us. It’s basically a snapshot into the past year of my life, personal and where my head is at with sounds. Hopefully, it will be a cool introduction for new listeners and inspire them to come out to a show and say hey. 

What do you hope that people will take away from your music?

I really hope that people will catch a glimpse into my head and into my heart, but also find a piece of themselves in the stories, and want to come to a show and sing along. For me, it all goes back to the experience of sharing the music live, as a group.

You work closely with producer David LaBrel, who has some great credits to his name. What is he like to work with?

It’s been absolutely incredible working with Dave. Not only am I fan of his work (and yes his credits are badass) but he’s become a great friend as well. 

When I first started to think about doing an EP, I just had a bunch of songs and demos, but I didn’t really know what to do with them. Insert Dave. He really brought the entire thing to life, in a super chill and relaxed way. We just played a bunch of instruments, messed with amp sounds, and really focused on what came natural. I already can’t wait to make more music with the dude. Oh, and him and his awesome wife Kate just had a beautiful baby girl, shoutout to River!

Who are some of your favourite musical influences?

Ryan Adams is a huge influence for me, especially as a singer-songwriter. Vocally, I think Caleb Followill from Kings Of Leon has such a cool voice. I’m a big KOL fan. Production wise, I really look up to Butch Walker. The dude also changed the way I look at playing rock music solo. And there’s some incredible new music out there that has been inspiring me lately, most notably Phoebe Bridgers. I think she’s incredible.

Music is in your blood and you’ve spent a lot of your career in bands which have given you some incredible experiences, such as your band Runaway Saints supporting Rod Stewart on tour. What’s been your favourite achievement so far within a band?

Playing in Runaway Saints has been such a huge part of my life. We actually met in high school, and along the way, experienced some magical moments for sure. Signing our first major label deal with Atlantic will always be cemented in my mind as one of our biggest achievements. And being able to tour with Rod Stewart, especially since my mom is a Rod Stewart super fan haha, and my parents flew out to one of the shows. That was so cool.

Now you’re paving a great solo career, and last year you competed on The Voice. What was the experience like for you?

The Voice was wild haha. I never really watched the show before, so I had no idea what to expect. And I will tell you this, I don’t care how many shows you’ve played, there is no stress like walking out onto that stage. I have so much respect for anyone who’s done it. 

The experience itself was awesome. The entire cast becomes a family, and I made some best friends. Gwen was so kind, and getting to hang with her was pretty surreal. And, most importantly, I feel like I really made some fans, who have continued to support and keep in touch, which is exactly why I wanted to do the show. So it was a total positive experience. 

What was the biggest lesson that you learned during your time on the show?

Enjoy the little victories in life. When something really special happens, it’s ok to take a deep breath, look around, and soak it in.

Oh and vocal warmups haha.

You’re based in LA. How has the city influenced you musically?

LA has totally been an interesting chapter for sure. It’s a tough city. You really need to fight for what you want. So, LA really made me realize I need to roll my sleeves up, and work as hard as possible to get this music heard.

And LA totally made me re connect with the kind of music that I love. You can be you in LA, and that’s cool. 

You’ve been performing a lot recently – what can someone expect from a Johnny Gates show?

Playing live is my favorite part of all this. By farrrr. When someone comes to one of my shows, they can expect something different every time. I really try to get a feel for the room and the crowd and roll with that energy. I’ve been told my banter gets a little interesting haha, so you can expect some attempts at jokes. But most importantly, I’ll give you my heart and soul every night. I don’t care where I’m playing or how many people are there, as soon as the show starts, it’s always that same incredible feeling. Defff come out if I’m in your city! I’ll toss you on the list.

Are there more touring plans in the works?

Yes, yes, and yes. Now that the music is finally starting to come out, it’s time to get back on the road. Can not wait. Announcing dates soon. 

What else have you got in store for the rest of 2018?

Releasing the EP, getting back on the road, writing, and I just became an uncle, so I need to introduce my new nephew to Nirvana ASAP!

Thank you to Johnny for his time. Keep up to date with him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Cliché is available now.

Fan of Johnny Gates? Let us know on Twitter @CelebMix

Written by Katrina Rees

I'm Katrina, or Kat to pretty much everyone. I'm an editor for CelebMix, a content writer, a boyband lover and an all round music fanatic.
Twitter: @lifeofkatrina