Greg Johnson is not one to rest on his laurels. In-fact he is not one to rest full stop. A self confessed workaholic, he can usually be found beavering away in his Birdhouse studio writing, recording or mixing a song.
When not recording, Greg’s likely to be found playing live, guesting on someone else’s record, producing or writing music for TV and Radio. He’s a musician, first, last, always…
It’s been 10 years since Greg left New Zealand for the bright lights of Los Angeles. Already a star in his homeland with five albums and numerous hit singles to his name, Greg and his musical partner Ted Brown arrived in America with a ton of great songs and a dream. Like so many others at that time, Greg’s U.S. label, part owned by Fleetwood Mac producer Richard Dushut folded in the new economy and Greg was left pondering his future. Many lesser men would have hot-footed back to New Zealand, but not Greg.
“I didn’t up and change my whole world for nothing and I knew I had some great songs….sooner or later the world would hear that.”
So he got back to what is instinctive for him…writing and recording. Two albums followed in quick succession, released in the U.S. on his own label and in the rest of the world by EMI, the label he was with for most of his career. Save Yourself was one of the first true indie hit singles at adult radio in the U.S. and saw months of touring and many war stories to tell.
Greg eventually settled in Santa Monica, a place that’s been his home ever since.
“Santa Monica kind of found me really, and I liked the energy and the sunshine so I stayed. It’s still a place where dreams come true, despite all those that don’t, and that’s a great place for any writer to be! Plus I find frequent returns to NZ are a nice contrast as well, I appreciate it more than I did when I lived there”
This year sees the 20th anniversary of his first hit ‘Isabelle‘ and there have been plenty more since: Liberty, Save Yourself, Now the Sun Is Out, Don’t Be The One, Kiss Me, Looking Out On Monday…the list goes on. There have been awards too, songs in high profile movies and TV shows, but as we said, he’s not one to rest on his laurels.
Which brings us nicely to the new album Exits. Exits is the second album to be released worldwide on Greg’s own label Johnson Music America, his 10th studio album.
Greg likes being an independent artist just fine:
“I always did exactly what I wanted even in the major label days so it’s not that different, just less arguing about artwork and so on.”
Being master of his own domain has allowed him to do some amazing and unique things including asking his fans to pay for his album before it was recorded, one of the first artists to fan fund an album. Greg’s well aware that the musical landscape is constantly changing.
“In many ways the digital revolution is the best thing that’s happened to music since people first started recording it.”
Exits is an upbeat record that sees Johnson is fine form. Guests on the record include fellow Kiwi singer Flip Grater, legendary songwriter Richard Rudolf, ex Goldenhorse mainstay Geoff Maddock, Los Angeles Philharmonic Bass player John Kibler and many more.