Do you often find yourself chatting with a musician and suddenly discovering that they are playing in or with half a dozen bands around Athens? You would find the same for Elijah Johnston, but he has built an inspiring network that continues to propel him on his mission to grow as an artist.
When Johnston moved from Snellville to Athens five years ago to attend UGA, he already had a few albums streaming, although the releases were much more “arbitrary” than deliberate. While at college as a music business school student, Johnston went on to produce two other projects that helped define his sound, but the arrangements came out of a need to record the songs that ‘he performed live that fans had become familiar with at the shows. This time around, the pandemic changed his perspective and goals as an artist, resulting in a meticulous album Day off which will be released under his name on Friday, January 14. Although the songs were written before the pandemic, the album was recorded in the middle and reflects the state of the music.
“There was no power, ‘Oh we have to make sure we can play this live.’ It was like, ‘Let’s just go into the studio and put as many pieces as we can, “says Johnston.” I think there was a little more attention to detail in the studio and while recording. there is nothing in it that looks like an afterthought.
From Flag polePrint deadline of Against a once again volatile backdrop for live music, an album release show at the Flicker Theater & Bar is slated for this Friday at 9 p.m. with support from Nicholas Mallis and Mary Margaret Cozart.
While Johnston’s live performance and recording process includes a multitude of collaborations, two core team members are at the heart of the organization. Day off alongside Johnston: his brother Gideon Johnston and his bandmate Well Kept Tommy Trautwein. As a release under the We Bought a Zoo Records label, Trautwein played an important role in the production of the entire album while playing bass and occasionally guitar on the tracks. The three musicians are involved in many projects and groups, from Well Kept and Wanderwild to Drew Beskin and Hotel Fiction. For Johnston, these collaborations have been valuable learning experiences.
“Being in Well Kept has been helpful because Tommy is there, and he’s very professional and very structured and organized. I’m good friends with Jess and Jade from Hotel Fiction, and I’ve done a few gigs with them away from town and seen the benefits of touring. Even my brother, he’s very motivated and working hard to be better at his craft, which has been helpful in learning and being motivated to be a better player, to be a better musician on every level, ”said Johnston.
More than a band of musicians, this group of friends have come together organically under the umbrella of We Bought a Zoo Records. The intertwined collaborations led to Johnston and Trautwein discussing how to tie all of their holdings together, and they came up with the fun idea of a label. We Bought A Zoo Records was a name suggested by Trautwein – taken from the 2011 comedy of the same name starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson – that most impressed everyone, and it has become a practical demarcation of the projects produced by Trautwein. . However, in a broader sense, it is a group of friends who collaborate while working on different but related projects.
In early November, the main artists who have produced music under the label gathered for a day-long festival at The Lewis Room at Tweed Recording. To start the year with a taste of what this conglomerate has to offer, a surprise live album, We bought a Zoo Records festival live at the Lewis Room, will be released on January 21. It will feature a song by every artist who performed at the fall festival, including Well Kept, Hotel Fiction, CannonandtheBoxes and Zac Crook in addition to Elijah Johnston. This “fun little aperitif,” as Johnston describes it, gives every artist a taste after listening to their collaborative album.
While the WBAZ group swap songs from time to time, their individual songwriting inspirations separate the music from any fusion into one sound. Johnston notes that being inspired by the hard work and efforts of his fellow musicians rather than the actual sounds created helps to keep what he does as Elijah Johnston unique and identifiable as himself. Described as an emo singer-songwriter and aspiring pop star, Johnston grew up listening to experimental and ambient electronic music that influenced his approach to creation.
“There are times on the album where I thought a lot about texture and sound of sorts. [a way] the way you look at a canvas rather than this is just one piece of the song.
WHO: Elijah Johnston, Nicholas Mallis, Mary Margaret Cozart
OR: Flicker Theater and Bar
WHEN: Friday January 14, 9 p.m.HOW MANY: $ 10
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