Neoteric soul.. A sound that is uncommonly defined by the radical message in ones lyrics which inspires the heart of the listener. But for Sean C Johnson, it’s just another form of sharing his testimony. At first glance, one might not envision this former Air Force Staff Sergeant as a soul singer – no afro blowing in the wind and no “tortured genius” look. He does, however, have his own unique vibe – an unsuspecting and compassionate demeanor that produces a sound that draws you in. Sean offers music that lyrically takes the listener deep into the Word, flowing hypnotically over neoteric soul ballads and hip hop beats.
Sean’s musical influences begin with Quartet legends like The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Fairfield Four, and The Canton Spirituals. Growing up in a family of singers (Mother was a music teacher) Sean spent Sunday dinners singing along to The Winans, The Clark Sisters, and Sam Cooke. As his musical palette expanded he begin to gravitate to soul-inspired artists such as D’Angelo, The Roots, John Legend, and Anthony Hamilton. Falling in love with the essence of these sounds, Sean melded these genres to form his own brand of neoteric soul music.
Sean C Johnson has received national recognition as a ground-breaking artist of his generation. Being named as one of the top 10 best albums by Soultracks.com, receiving Album of the Year and Singer of the Year by Kingdom Choice Awards, and Album of the Year by Gospel Blue Mic Awards, Sean has already placed his mark in the music industry as an artist to pay close attention to. Sean C Johnson continues to create music that changes the hearers into doers and leaves a lasting impression on his fans. 2016 is anticipated to be a great year for Sean C Johnson as he continues to share his neoteric soul sound to the masses while working on his next project.
Charles Clark: Man, thank for doing this interview!
Sean Johnson: Thanks for asking Fam!
CC: So you know my first questions; Who is Sean Johnson?
SJ: Sean Johnson is a man that wakes up everyday grateful for God’s Grace. I’m simply a vessel. God has given me a gift and I’m doing my best to use it to edifying God’s people.
CC: What makes “Circa 1993” different from any of your other projects?
SJ: This album tells a story. While my other albums all centered around a specific theme, this project goes a little deeper and takes the listener on a journey. They get to visualize the events that shaped me as a person.
CC: You are very transparent with this project and deal with topics such as “pornography” and more. What was the process like in saying I’m going to put my life on front street?
SJ: The bible tells us that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man”. So what that tells me is that everything I’m going through someone else is going through. So I want to use my gift and platform to share what I’m going through in order to encourage someone else. It’s important for each of us to see that nobody is perfect and without God’s grace we are LOST!
CC: How have you grown as an artist since your first project?
SJ: Man, I think I’ve found a good balance of naturally pulling from all of my influences (Gospel, Quartet Music, Hip Hop, and Soul) without it sounded forced. I’m able to weave in and out of each genre and incorporate them into songs as needed. It allows me to operate in my own lane and present music that’s appealing to different demographics.
CC: You recently graduation with a degree in elementary education. Why education?
SJ: I love to teach and instruct. Plus it’s a great way to influence the generation coming after us. I mentor with an organization called Youth For Christ and over the years I’ve seen the need for young people to have positive role models in their lives. What better way to do that than to hold a position (Teacher) where kids spend 8 hours a day under your direct influence.
CC: How will you juggle teaching and being an artist?
SJ: Fortunately I do most of my travelling and engagements on the weekend and Teachers have weekends off. In addition, Teachers have Holidays and Summers off so this gives me more opportunities to travel and record without it interfering with my Teaching duties.
CC: As you tour, what has been the response on the new material?
SJ: People are REALLY loving the new music. I typically close out my set singing “Mountains” and people are always able to connect with the concept of God giving us Mountains so that we can go higher. Some of the younger crowds get a kick out of my Remix to “No Flex Zone” also. Overall it’s been a positive reception to the new material.
CC: Sean Johnson is one of the few artists who bridge the musical gap. In one song, you can hear the influences on neo-soul, hip-hop, jazz, traditional gospel, contemporary gospel. Do you merged the genres so that you’re not put inside a box musically?
SJ: As I stated earlier, those genres are all styles I grew up listening to, so when I write my music it’s something that naturally comes out. It’s not something that’s forced or that I’m conscious of, I just pull from what’s already in me. It’s great because it allows me to reach a broader audience and edify old and young Christians.
CC: What’s next for Sean Johnson?
SJ: More touring and more music!! I’m already working on my next project. I believe in doing something creative every day, just to keep that creative muscle sharp. So I’m constantly humming melodies and listening to instrumentals. I got some dope concepts brewing. I’m going to continue to push and promote CIRCA 1993 and hopefully you guys will hear some new music around the beginning of next year.