Delivering up euphoric indie-pop productions, is Toby Johnson with his new single “California”.
Between schools returning and fashion week, this month has been crazy, and that is why we’re currently basking in Toby Johnson’s soothing new single “California”. Laced with folk-pop guitars and calming drums, the artist seamlessly glides over the feel-good production, while catching every subtle riff and tempo change. Echoing over the bridge, the artist gently guides us out of the song with a thunderous climax that ultimately leads us into a euphoric soundscape.
Accompanying the single with an equally as serene visual, the artist takes us for a drive across the Essex country, immersing himself in the dulcet landscape.“The initial idea for the ‘California’ video stemmed from the production team getting hold of a car rig for the camera,” Toby revealed. “We met in Harlow just outside of Essex where we picked up an old Ford Calypso from a friend, strapped a ten grand camera to the bonnets, and then spent the day driving around the countryside avoiding tractors. The video is inspired by adventure and singing at the top of your lungs like nobody is watching.”
Catching up with us virtually, the artist gets candid on his past year in lockdown, creating new music and how he’s ready to drop the next EP.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Toby, how are you? How has this past year been?
The past year has been a challenge in terms of both music and general life. I think lockdown really taught us all a lot about ourselves and how we cope in such difficult times.
With everything that happened last year, was your creativity affected?
I think creatively I definitely had stints of having little to no inspiration but then other days it was fully flowing, I think this came from a level of not needing to fully focus on things 100%. The world essentially stopped working in many ways so it felt like an opportunity to focus on myself which was a bit of a godsend.
Where are you from? Do you think your area has impacted your sound in anyway?
I’m not actually sure where I’m from. My dad was in the RAF and we moved to new places a lot. I never saw it as a bad thing and still don’t. It was always an adventure. I’ve now settled in Lincoln, in the sticks (albeit in a city) but I love it here, I’m walking distance from parks, forests and miles of landscape. I think this setting helps to create a more earthy sound and that’s exactly how I like it.
You’ve just dropped your new single “California”, talk us through the production process! The song has such a summery feel, was this intentional?
During lockdown, Jonathan Quarmby (producer), Leo Stannard and myself organised a writing session. We had previously written Rumour of a Good Life together so in a way we already had a formula together of writing this genre of music. We aimed to write an upbeat track with a memorable guitar melody, we discussed the dancing in the moonlight by Top loader and how it’s immediately identifiable, this general concept it what we aimed for. As a writer, I find myself writing about America a lot. I think its the depiction of adventure in films and I’ve always had a passion for US cinema. The track initially started out quite dance-focused however I liked it so much that we stripped it back and brought it more in line with my sound!
And the video is such a vibe! What was filming like? How did you get the inspiration?
The video came off the back of the production team getting hold of a camera mount for cars. It’s basically this big tripod with suction cups underneath. That was the foundation in a way and obviously we aimed for the car vibe giving the equipment we had. We strapped a 10K camera to the bonnet and drove into the not-so-country countryside of North East London. We actually filmed a lot of the video on a single lane backroad thinking it would be quiet throughout the day but as soon as rush hour hit, we were hit hard by the London commuters heading home.
What do you want people to take away from your sound?
I want people to feel something while listening to my music. I’ve always aimed to tell stories in a way that are meaningful to me but open enough for it to resonate with listeners in their own way if that makes sense. I want listeners to be the main character. Besides that, I just want my music to make people happy and act as a sort of cure for a bad day.
Who are your inspirations?
My main inspirations for songwriting are always the likes of Paul Simon, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Nick Drake. They always act as a solid foundation and enough diversity to leave the song direction open. I love listening to music of all genres and I never avoid anything, as who knows, it may spark my next project!
What is next for you? What are you most excited for?
I’m mostly excited about sharing this next EP. It’s always a long journey to the big release day therefore as it approaches I just cant wait to get it out there. I think long term I’m just excited to release regularly and share all the music I’m writing now!