Artist Spotlight : Johnny Yono
Alias: Johnny Yono
Real Name: Johnny Yono
Hometown: Livonia, Michigan
Profession: Music Producer, DJ
Hobbies: UFC, cooking, movies, music, hiking, exercise
Affiliations: Armada Music, Euphonic Records
Going with the flow and jumping on current trends…
…in a competitive world can really mess with your identity and sometime be the reason for failure. Sitting with Johnny Yono, I was able to see a rising star who understood this concept. Johnny is not trying to go with the flow, but perfect his niche in the scene. With a monster production year in 2017, Johnny saw the fruits of his labor start to pay off as his name starts to become more recognizable. Continuing to develop and grow as a producer and DJ, Johnny hopes to start 2018 where he ended 2017. His tenacity, consistency and drive will propel him further and we will continue to see him on the charts in 2018.
2017 was a big year for you in the studio. You released 13 tracks in 2017, “Euphonic” that is currently climbing the Beatport charts at #24 today. How do you feel your evolution of your music has gone over the past year? Do you plan to have another busy year in the studio in 2018? If not, why?
Having a busy year is always a goal. I thank 2017 was a defining year in profile growth. I think I moved up a few levels in technical skill as a producer. I think this year, more than previous ones; I received a lot of positive comments, emails, and messages from people everywhere about the tracks. Especially towards the end of the year. I seem to finish every year stronger than the first half. So yeah, 2017 was a very strong year. I worked relentlessly, [many] sleepless nights, just knuckling down and just doing the work. I am purely obsessed with music production. If I had to leave one or the other, I would leave the DJ life and DJ pursuits and just be a studio head for the rest of my life.
You had a lot of support from Armada this year and some of the other big labels. How does that feel when you see your name and your music played on ASOT weekly?
It was good. In 2017, I was on ASOT six times. The Armada thing, I got a footing in the door with Armada last year; I had a meeting with an A&R who came out to LA with an agenda for a week, and he put me in his schedule. It was all due to emailing Armin one day and thanking him for support on a track called White Light. Which I
actually released on Euphonic in 2016 and Armin played it twice on ASOT. I emailed him, like all producers do when you get played on ASOT, and he emailed me back saying how about releasing something on ASOT. I said “Absolutely!” I got a deal with them and released three tracks on the label, and two on Black Sunset Music, which is a part of ASOT. It’s been a good relationship so far. I like working with them.
I know you run a music production service. What do your services entail?
I fully produce or partially produce tracks for people. Some people will send me something that they wrote a skeleton of a project. Something rough and I will build something off that, or they will send me a few ideas for something that is completely original from the ground up, like a blank canvas, and I will start from the ground up and will just work until they are satisfied. I also mix people’s tracks and I teach as well. People will come over to my studio and I will work with them for a stretch of a day or several days. I had someone last year do a 3 day intensive with me. He drove down from San Jose, stayed in a hotel near my place, and came over doing 8 hours a day and left on the 3rd day very satisfied. I was really happy and love to pass on the knowledge of production. Especially if it is trance music.
What are your thoughts on the “Ghost-producer”
HAHA, well. This is a really tough one to answer, I think. Part of me feels if you are somebody who has the time to learn, learn the craft. That is why I am there to teach it. But then again, I like to give people what they want, so if it keeps money coming in, because I make a living off music production. So it is a really tough thing to say I totally frown upon it but that again, we are all competing with each other rather we know it or admit it. I think subliminally all of us are sort of racing to the top against each other in some ways to get there with our music. So there are a lot of guys who have built a career off of paying for tracks to be made. A lot of the big guys, a lot of people who are on these dance floors every weekend who are seeing their favorite DJs every weekend; little do they know that those DJs that they are praising all those tracks that they made, are not making that music. Anybody can step into those shoes on stage and put on a performance. The DJ vs producer world is night and day. Producing music is endless, and we are always learning, always evolving. New technology are introduced every year and music production and software synthesis. I think it is never-ending, so I think if you have the time to learn.
They call you a late bloomer to the electronic music world, since you started producing later in your career. Do you feel using your life events and experience has helped you while producing? If you could go back, would you start earlier?
Absolutely! Absolutely! I think it was more that I realized my dreams really late in my life. I bounced around doing different things and I found myself on the West Coast from a TV and film career. I wanted to be an actor, and I moved out here from Michigan to pursue that. But, I fell back into music; because I come from a musical background. I was a drummer for 7 years in rock-bands in Detroit. I left that to step on the stage to be an actor, do theater stuff, TV and film in Los Angeles. I found myself stepping on stage again but playing my music and other people’s music. I feel my life events have absolutely without a doubt have implemented themselves into my music. Especially 2017, my entire year was built on life events, emotions, and real feelings. Which translated into the music.
Your monthly radio show, “White Light Sessions” just wrapped episode 90. Do you plan to do anything big on episode 100 this year? Any guest appearances we can be on the lookout for.
I haven’t planned that far yet. I have however planned to have another event [similar to] my 50th episode. I got eight DJs together, most were friends of mine, and had them come on and do half hour mixes and I did an hour. Di.fm was nice enough to block out that time for me on the channel. I had a good group of friends on the 50th episode anniversary; so I plan to do the same for the 100th.
You have opened up for some big names in trance, and was scouted by Daniel Kandi. Who has given you the best advice so far, and what was it?
I can’t say the best advice is or has come from solely one artist. But everyone has given his or her input. From Lange to Protoculture, to friends of mine for many years. Stick to what you know and stick to your guns and what you are passionate about. Over time, it will win out. I have never been one to jump on a bandwagon or transform to a sound because everyone else is doing it. I have always been that guy who has gone against the grain. So if everyone is crossing over doing this 138 stuff, I will still be the guy doing 132, 130. Now I’m trying to build this 134 trance, so in my set here tonight you will hear a lot of 134 bpm stuff, a handful of my own tracks, and quite a few of my tracks last year, particularly a few on the ASOT label were 134 bpm. So I am trying to find a happy medium between 132-138. Running it up to the 138-140 uplifting to psy-trance and back to the progressive 130 and 132. I am trying to find the medium, because if a DJ is playing an extended set, they need to range all the way from 130-138, they have to pass through a few bpm to get there. So why not make “Who is Afraid of 134” not that I am going to bite the big man or the big man’s style or idea in any way. But yeah, the 134 stuff has appealed to me and I think it has found a home.
If you could only live by one motto, what would it be?
Stay true to yourself and stand up for what you believe in.
Courtesy of Johnny Yono