BLUE HOUR: AN INTERVIEW WITH CARISSA JOHNSON
BY DOMINIC DELORE
This evening, I sat down with Carissa Johnson to talk about her artistry and recent album release, Blue Hour.
"What is something that stands out about your work to you, you know, like personally? And then, what is something you're currently working on or something you're enjoying that you're doing right now?
What stands out about my work, I think, is that it's really raw and honest.
I think even if it's really produced sounding, I think it still holds true to that, like raw and honest feeling, which that's something that I was looking for in my favorite music.
[I like] honesty and transparency. [Sometimes] I hide behind metaphors, but sometimes they're not even metaphors and they're actually real, or become real in time.
I love manifestation. The law of attraction stuff. I've witnessed that with a lot of my songs.
It's like they actually do sometimes foresee the future and I'm trying to be more careful with that right now. When writing new songs, I'm trying to be careful of what I am manifesting through my lyrics and not sitting on feelings,
The energy of the music, the melody, and the upbeat uplifting of it, even if it's a sad song, it still always has that hope, which is also really important to me. That's also what really inspires me is like music that comes from a hard place, but inspires hope and, you know? Just that feeling that things are going to be okay.
If you were to explain to someone who isn't a musician or who is not familiar with your music and the music you write, you know, what would you tell them?
Whether it's two people or two hundred, I just want people to feel like they're a part of a conversation. You know? That they're acknowledged and that we're in this together. And it's not just me playing my songs for them. It's like an experience that we're all going through together.
So I'd like to think that my shows are like that. To the fullest extent that can be of like, just like energy, loud, a wall of noise, but still you can feel that emotion and the energy through that, like through singing it.
I really feel like I pick up on the energy, the energy of the audience and that fuels kind of how I perform too. So it is an important back and forth that happens.
We all face challenges in our lives, were there any notable ones that you felt like were a little tougher? Or make the road bumpier on the journey?
That's funny, I feel like the challenges with the music career happen almost daily. Literally, like today I had one, like a bump came up today or I'm just like, God, why is it so hard?
It's the bigger ones that really stand out, whenever there was a lineup change, that was always really hard. I just instantly get really reminiscent about it and then I'd miss it. And then I'd start just missing that era of something.
Then I would always make space for something better.
Luckily I didn't have any bad problems firing anybody. All the people that I had to fire from my band are my best friends. We had to have a sit down and be like, we can't do this anymore. Like this isn't working. Those were always really big.
They felt like big road bumps, but like now they just don't seem like anything at all, because they're just a natural change, you know? Just the way that it all goes.
There were a lot of challenges just within the touring. Touring in itself, brought up a lot of roadblocks because it's survival mode all the time. And that's kind of how I felt in my first band where it was just like all or nothing.
It becomes like, how do we financially sustain ourselves? And then how do we like, you know, grow up in this band and change and evolve. I don't think it's a roadblock, but I think it's just definitely a challenge, like when you're evolving into something else and then all the insecurities that come along with that.
The voice of doubt or negativity in one’s head can be tough to silence. I think all artists, including myself, share that.
Oh, yeah. It's just like you keep comparing yourself to someone else's success or not feeling you are where you want to be when, like in the moment. And it's all about patience and it's all about just trusting that you're going to get there and not focusing on how it's going to happen. You want to be focusing on why you're doing it.
Sometimes in those moments when a lineup, or a band member expresses needing a change or like not wanting to do it anymore, then it's like, oh man, like, is this the end of the road? And then it's not, it's just the new beginning.
Another challenge, [was] my bass got stolen the very first night of my first tour.
I would probably cry if someone took my instrument.
I had just turned 18. I had just paid off my bass. I was on my first tour, it was Burlington, Vermont. And like my bass got stolen. I got it back though. It's my main, the bass that I play now.
[In that moment] you just feel like everything's against you and then it ends up being okay. There's just little things like that, that happened all the time that are just like, luckily not that bad looking back now.
There's stuff like that that pops up. That's just like, it seems like you're not going to get through it on that day. And then it's like, ah, that was six years ago or that was like 10 years ago. You know? I don't think about those things now.
I remember it being such a challenge to just find a show [to play] in Boston.
I remember being like, I don't know how I'm going to ever play Boston; that's huge, like that's way too big. And now 10 years later to have played nearly every venue in Boston, I don't know how that happened. And that's the thing that I was always trying to figure out. I didn't know it was going to happen the way it did or like, you know, there's no way I could have ever foresaw that . I just kept playing music and then it just ended up happening. Focusing on the writing and the playing and then going out to shows and meeting people. It's definitely been a journey.
There’s this resolving feeling that the challenges in hindsight almost feel like they were natural, you know, looking back on them.
I feel like I have to make an album because it's almost like a yearly scrapbook that I want to like, capture everything that happened and be like, here's almost a song a month or something where it's just like this is for this year.
Then you have that collection that you can put behind you. And then also always have a website, just having that collection of photos or videos or, you know, it's good to have it all together.
There's always some sort of mountain to climb, but it's funny because then yeah, in hindsight, it's just like a little hill, then you have another mountain. And that seemed like a big monster mountain until you passed that. And so it's good to keep overcoming those. Then anything kind of feels like, oh, I can do it. So it's definitely helpful to have those experiences, but in that moment, it's definitely not fun.
Photographer: Dominic Delore
Musician: Carissa Johnson