Josh Johansson – Interview

Pop, rock, R&B, and soul singer-songwriter Josh Johansson is interviewed about his intro to music, his start in the local music scene, favorite songs he’s written, and much more.

What first got you into music?

My paternal grandma had a baby grand piano. We’d go visit her and I’d hammer on the keys for a little while. She also played accordion, ukulele and I think I remember her having a violin too. She got the music genes from her dad. When I got a little older, I’d sit out in the garage and play “drums” with some mini screwdrivers and sandcastle buckets. My parents got me drum sets for their respective houses and I took lessons for a bit. I started really playing guitar and singing in college. Some of my fraternity brothers talked me into doing some Open Mics at Armstrong and things have been rolling ever since.

Who are some of your influences?

They’re always changing. I go through phases. I just saw John Mayer in Atlanta and I think he’s a good influence. I’m not the musician he is, by any means, but I like how he has been a musical journeyman going from pop to singer-songwriter, even playing with Dead & Co. Zac Brown has been an influence in that same way. My old faithful is Sam Cooke. I don’t think you can write songs and not be influenced by Jason Isbell. And Leon Bridges really blew my mind. Oh, and Van Morrison too!

Josh Johansson

What draws you to your preferred genre?

I don’t even know what my preferred genre is. The only constant I’ve found is soul. Whether it be lyrically, vocally or instrumentally, I’m drawn to music with soul.

How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?

I got my start after going to a random oyster roast with my aunt. At some point, we broke out a guitar and started singing. One of her friends was very close with Ginger Fawcett of Liquid Ginger. Ginger ended up coming out to meet us and we sang a couple songs together. Then she invited me to come sing a few songs at some Liquid Ginger gigs. We did that one night at Retro on Congress (what is now Barrelhouse South). The owner, Amy Friess, ended up offering me a weekly gig on Tuesday nights.

I like the story it tells while it also maintains some ambiguity

Any favorite songs you’ve written, and why?

Out of songs I’ve already put out into the world, “Take Me Where I’m Going” is probably my favorite. I feel like it unintentionally has done exactly what the title says. I feel like it was the most “singer-songwriter” song on Over This Mountain and I’ve really fallen in love with that genre since. I like the story it tells while it also maintains some ambiguity.

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Talk about your collaboration with the Boondockers?

Tim asked me for a few dates to play a few duo gigs at a campground. It ended up working out that Dray could come out and play some percussion and do some background vocals with us. Next thing you know, we had formed a cool little acoustic trio. We ended up having a band-like energy with an acoustic act’s volume. Tim and Dray have really become THE Boondockers and they rotate Cyril and some other guys in as the third member. They also do some cool gigs as an outfit called the Crabtrappers. Due to my solo schedule, I’ve become more of a part-timer but we have a lot of fun when we get together!

Name a Savannah artist you’d love to collaborate with, and why?

Matt Eckstine, Evan Rose and I have chatted about doing a little trio gig with some cool harmonies. I think that could be fun. Also Brandon Nelson McCoy. We heard him playing at Cohen’s Retreat and his voice blew my mind. He has a cool, fast vibrato. He’s unique in a very good way. And he has some sick vintage guitars that he posts photos of on IG. I’ve also become a bit of a Dead Head so I think it’d be fun to jam with the Charlie Fog Band.

We have so much talent in this city and sometimes people don’t see it when it’s right under their nose

What are some of your favorite local places to play?

They’re all awesome. I really appreciate any venue that’ll hire me to come out and sing to their patrons, especially after 2020 tried ruining all the fun. I like playing at all the Richmond Hill venues. When I play closer to home, my wife and my son are more likely to come see me for a bit. I love when they come to gigs!

Your thoughts on the Savannah music scene …

I’ve been a little out of touch with the Savannah music scene. I used to be out and about a little more but it’s tougher now that I’m a Dad. I really like seeing the local acts opening up for the bigger acts that are coming through. I hope to see more of those opportunities, between Victory North, District Live and Enmarket Arena. We have so much talent in this city and sometimes people don’t see it when it’s right under their nose. But when they see a local band opening for a bigger act, people pay a little more attention. I also like how Savannah musicians seem to lift each other up (for the most part). We get to spread a lot of good vibes. I think that positivity is good for music scene and our city.

Josh Johansson at the Warehouse

What’s next for you?

I’m going to be recording a few songs this summer and hopefully getting them out into the world pretty quickly. I don’t think I’m ever going to be some big super star so if I can put out a few new tunes that I can be proud of, I’ll be happy! Hopefully they’ll touch a few other folks too. I’m proud of this next little batch. I’m also getting involved with music at my church. As a guy who (up until recently) never really felt a lot of motivation in that department, I’m really excited about that!

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