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article imageInterview with country music singer Robby Johnson Special

By Adrian Peel     Apr 1, 2014 in Entertainment
Digital Journal meets the exciting new talent - a potentially huge addition to country music's ever-expanding roster - who has already made a splash with his breakthrough hit "South Of Me."
Many relocate to Nashville, the Home of Country Music, in order to follow a dream. They come from all over the United States primarily, but Robby Johnson's roots lie even further afield in the beautiful Canadian city of Quebec.
Intending to launch his debut album soon (though there is no official release date as of yet), this outgoing thirty-something, who co-wrote five songs on the record with such Nashville luminaries as Anthony Smith and Danny Wells, has seen the video for "South Of Me" not only receive over two million hits on You Tube, but also become something of a mainstay on the CMT Pure 12 Pack Countdown. Not bad for an independent artist who only recently decided to actively pursue a career in music.
"Well deep down, I knew that we had a great song with a great vibe to it," replies Robby to the question of whether the outstanding success of "South Of Me" has taken him by surprise. "Also the team - because I didn't do all this by myself, of course...
"We knew that we had something that people could relate to and enjoy, so we were pretty positive about that. Everybody has a song about a love that just couldn't happen or a lost love. We were confident that people would relate to it and I think that's what happened."
"Well we have a video promotion team," he continues, revealing how the song ended up on CMT Pure, "and CMT thought that the quality was there, the music production had quality, the depth of the lyrics... They decided to put it on the 12 Pack Countdown list for people to vote and it was an instant success."
Impressively for a 'rookie,' the "South Of Me" video was directed by Ryan Smith, known for his work with the likes of Jason Aldean and James Otto. How did that come about?
"My producers are Frank Myers, a Grammy Award winner and a great writer, and Jimmy Nichols, who is Faith Hill's Musical Director. He was with Reba - he's worked with all the great names. He had a label in Nashville and he used Ryan Smith to shoot his videos when he was at the label, so that's how he knew him. He brought him in and I think Ryan fell in love with the project."
Understandably hoping to build on the buzz that "South Of Me" has generated, the artist who cites Garth Brooks as his biggest influence - and whose first language is French - opened up about the new record:
"I hope that people are gonna like it," he says modestly. "It was such an experience to sit down with those hit songwriters and write songs with my ideas and their ideas. I just wanted to come up with songs that listeners could relate to... On my website, you have snippets and I keep getting comments from people saying, 'We can't wait to get the album because it sounds great.'"
How would Robby define the sound on the as-yet-untitled LP?
"It has a bit of traditional in it, with rock and also country pop. It's a blend of many things - it's not the same song over and over again. It won't be boring to listen to. There's different styles and I think the most important thing is the lyrics, of course, because it's country music.
"But the sound, I would say, is pretty unique, compared with what's out right now. That's what I get from people, that it's good because it's unique and it's not like a copy of what's already out there."
As mentioned in the second paragraph, Robby's natural - and apparently effortless - transition from 'regular Joe' to country music superstar-in-waiting happened only fairly recently, though he couldn't have just come from nowhere, could he? What about the years of 'slogging it out' on the club circuit?
"Well actually I am coming from nowhere!" he laughs. "I was a sales rep on the road selling industrial products and kind of wondering what I would do if I weren't in sales. I had no idea. I never thought I'd become an artist, singer, songwriter, performer...
"Even though I was singing all the time and writing songs, it never occurred to me that that was what I needed to do in life... I wasn't really happy - I was 70 pounds heavier and people said, 'Let's give him a push.'
"They paid for me to have a demo session in a studio. I did one of my songs and people in the studio were like, 'Whoa, where are you coming from? You should be in Nashville. There's something there, there's something in your voice - it sounds good.'"
"I was like, 'No no, I'm not a singer, I'm not an artist.' But then when I got out of the studio with the CD and was playing it in the car, it was an eye-opener. I felt at peace with myself. I said, 'Maybe that's what you didn't want to see, or what you were afraid of?' I don't know, but it was all I needed to give me that push.
"Then we took the leap-of-faith and moved to Nashville, and that's a little more than a year ago. So things happened pretty fast and like I say to radio people, 'I was living the life of most of the listeners and had nothing to do with music or singing.' It's a crazy story!"
Robby's debut album will be out "hopefully before the summer" and will be distributed by Sony RED.
He is scheduled to appear on The David Letterman Show on June 23rd.
For more information, and to hear song samples, visit his official website.
More about robby johnson, frank myers, south of me, Nashville, Country music
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