Artist Spotlight - Bobbie Johnson

Photo Credit: Aaron Wood

Photo Credit: Aaron Wood

We’re taught never to judge a book by its cover and yet, it’s something we always do as humans. When you first look at Bobbie Johnson, the last thing that would come to mind is a rapper whose venomous bars will leave you scratching your head like “did she really just say that?.'“ The subject matter of her music ranges from talking about the pains of growing up in a divided society, amplified by Brexit on ‘Great’ Britain, to tales of love woes on Another Man. Bobbie is a young person using her music to share her innermost thoughts. Read more below as we chat to her about her music and her debut EP “You & I”.

So Bobbie Johnson is…. 

… a man sized cherub that hits keys till she finds a chord and says words till they become a coherent sentence, sometimes. Hahahah.

But for real, I’m a producer and rapper, write songs A LOT and gig as much as I can.

You’re currently based in Brighton. How has the music-scene there influenced you as an artist?

I’ve been down in Brighton for nearly 10 years now, madness! The scene down here has definitely influenced me as an artist; more in the live aspect as it’s a vibrant city with an amazing live music scene.

Who are you currently listening to from Brighton?

Normanton Street, Taff, Kudu Blue, Lebeaux, Phonetic, One Eyed Jacks … the list goes on. There’s so many Brighton artists!

What made you think that music was the right choice for you?

It’s basically the only thing I can do hahaha; it’s the one thing I can maintain focus on and have drive towards. I never get bored of it.

Do you care about the reception of your music or do you think this would cloud your music-making process?

I think any artist is lying if they say they don’t care to be honest. So yeah I do, but I still try to make music that reflects myself and the people around me. I just try to have faith that what I’m making will reach somebody somewhere and help them in whatever way it can.

Now, let’s talk more about your EP: You & I. Even though it was originally released in 2016, it still getting reloaded here at WFA. How do you feel now that it’s 2 years old?

I still feel proud of that EP it was my first step in the new direction of my sound.

How did the songs for the You & I EP come together?

I basically made songs until I felt I had the ones I was happiest with. It touches on many subjects but mainly the identity of self and the battle that many of us face within, regarding love, insecurities, addiction, shame, ego and so on.

The EP has eclectic sounds from the soft(er) “You Say” to the more electric “Bang” - how did you decide on the types of sounds you wanted to explore on this project?

I knew I wanted to make something different, Bang kinda represents the past style of my music whereas You Say was a step in a new direction. I’ve always liked eclectic albums though so I wanted to showcase this.

“Do you love me, or just need someone to fall in love with?” // “Do you need me, or just love someone to feel needed?” These two lines are taken from the chorus of “You Say” - the feelings you talk about seem symptomatic of modern romance, would you agree?

Yeah 100%, glad you picked up on that! When I wrote that song I knew I was in a phase of romantic flings that only nurtured my physical self and the more negative traits like insecurities and the need to be ‘loved.’

Moving on to a stand-out track on the EP “‘Great’ Britain”. This seems to be an anthem for a broken Britain (pre and post Brexit) - why did you feel you needed to comment on the political chaos that is Brexit?

To be honest I was super angry about the whole thing and still am. I was genuinely shocked when we voted to leave. I got pissed for 3 days didn’t leave the house and wrote this song. I felt like a future had been robbed from the youth by the older generations and our media had been manipulated by racist old white men. I felt like it was a leap down the path of the far right which terrified me. I couldn’t believe it and still can’t.

You recently released a newer track (not on this EP), “Another Man”

- how does it feel to be back releasing tracks?

AMAZING. I’ve now released the whole EP entitled Defier. It feels good to have new music out there for people to listen too. Within this EP you can hear how I’ve fully transferred into my new sound.  

Being an independent artist in 2018 - what keeps you going? (Do you feel you ultimately want to be signed in future?)

I mean, its difficult, that’s for sure! But I have faith that with hard work and dedication I can achieve the things I want to in music. I currently work with a little indie label called QM Records who helped me with my latest release. Big up.

Which UK artist(s) would you most like to work with?

James Blake, FKA Twigs, Octavian, Little Simz, Ray BLK the list goes on….there’s so much talent in the UK! It’s actually a proper exciting time for UK music.

And finally, what does success mean to you?

Finding happiness, fulfilment and love within the field I’m working in. Being paid for what I love to do is always a blessing too!