Toronto-based singer-songwriter Noel Johnson hails from Calgary, a fact that isn’t necessary to convey if one is familiar with his brand of indie folk-rock. The western province slips in and out of the moving melodies he composes, the shadows of trees and a hint of the country sensibility made a brand via the annual Stampede lending a lush background to tales of life and love. A storyteller in the vein of the Toms — Petty and Cochrane — Noel Johnson has been honing his craft, as evidenced in his forthcoming release The Remedy.
Recently, OTM sat down on the virtual couch with Johnson for a chat about music, middle-aged comforts and Mouse Trap.
OTM: The Mayan Calendar was lyin’! Now that we’ve lived to see 2013, what albums are you looking forward to this year?
Noel: Most of the albums I was looking the most forward to have already come out! Hannah Georgas, Two Hours Traffic, Minus The Bear, etc. I am looking forward to hearing the new Bowie record though!
Last year, “Gangnam Style” exploded onto the scene. If you could dictate the song or trend that would become the viral monster of 2013, what would it be?
The trend of listening to good music would be a nice change…but since that’s doubtful, just bring back the Macarena.
Name five essential albums you can’t live without.
Radiohead – The Bends; Elliot Smith – Either/Or; Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News; Ray Lamontagne – Trouble; Kathleen Edwards – Failer. All albums that make me feel such intense emotions when I hear them. Some due to nostalgia, some because the songwriting is so powerful.
Your favourite guilty pleasure?
Drinking wine in the bathtub… I feel like a middle-aged woman but it feels so nice at the same time!
The great debate of our lives: who would win, ninjas or pirates? More importantly, why?
Pirates, because they’re awesome. Unless the ninjas were of the turtle variety.
I’m surprised you’re the first to mention the ninja turtles! Perfect answer. Speaking of the toy aisle, f you were to be sponsored by a board game, what board game would you proudly bear the name of?
Mouse Trap. Had no idea how to play the game but it was just fun to trap stuff.
I don’t think anyone besides me knew how to actually play, but trust me: it was so convoluted that just trapping the mice was the superior option. Alright, Chicken or the egg question: which usually comes first, the music or the lyrics?
Music. Usually vocal melodies or guitar melodies come pretty naturally. Lyrics always take a little more consideration and time.
The best music-related film ever made?
Searching For Sugarman. If you have not seen it yet, do it! Best music documentary I have ever seen.
It’s on my list, no question. Scenario: the world is ending in ten minutes. You can listen to one and only one song before the world ends. What song do you go out on?
The Seinfeld theme song. Or maybe just Morgan Freeman narrating my death. Or both at the same time!
Morgan Freeman trumps all. Love it! Last, what can we look forward to from you in 2013?
I have my new album The Remedy coming out this spring. Looking forward to following that up with some touring over the summer and fall. Follow me on Twitter (@noelsmusic) and I’ll keep ya’ll posted!
Thanks so much, Noel!
Noel Johnson is an incredible talent, sure to move you. You can catch Noel Johnson at CMW March 21st at 12:30am (The Garrison), where I’m certain he’ll play tracks from his new album, The Remedy.
Speaking of The Remedy, OTM has an advance copy of the album to share as part of its CMW Giveaway. Wanna win some of the best of the fest? Head here for details on our ever-growing CMW Giveaway!