Johnny Manuel Talks His Debut EP and Big Plans for 2023

For people discovering you for the first time, how would you describe your music? And what song of yours should they start with?

That is a very interesting question. I have a few different projects coming out, so I’m touching on a lot of different genres at the moment, which is cool, but my solo project that is out now, Younger Skin, is more R&B based because that’s the core of who I am. It’s foundational for me. And the song I would want people to listen to off of there would be “Out of Time” just because it encompasses everything. It tells the story of who I am as an artist. 

You released your debut EP, Younger Skin, in October, and it’s your first-ever solo project. How does this collection of songs reflect where you are at personally and as an artist?

This project, for me, meant everything, only because it is the foundation. It is the introduction for people into who I am as an artist. I’ve been around and in the recording industry for years, but this is the first time that I was actually able to tell my story honestly and just talk about what it’s been like for me as an artist in this industry trying to pursue this full-time. So Younger Skin is that for me—the embodiment of who I am as an artist. It actually tells the story of my journey, and it ends up where I am today, which is in this position of empowerment. I have a really great team of people around me. I am finally able to let my guard down and be myself completely and explore. Every day is a learning process for me. 

Is there a song on this EP that is particularly close to your heart?

It’s hard because really the entire project is a complete story. I feel like all the songs can stand on their own, though, and for me, “The Others” really represents… I feel the most connected to “The Others” just because I felt guided while I was writing it, and while we were in the studio, it came about so seamlessly and effortlessly. The melodies came really easily, and the lyrical content was there, and I really did feel like there was something in the room with us, like a bigger energy guiding us [and] like this is definitely the right thing to do at this moment.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process of writing and recording music?

It’s a fun process for me. I am constantly listening to music, as you can imagine. As an artist, I’m always drawing inspiration from things around me but also mostly music. So whenever I know I’m about to go into the studio to start a new project, I start collecting songs that feel like the direction I want to go in and gather a sound. So sonically, it always comes together like that. And then once I’m in the studio, we usually tinker around with keyboards and guitars or whatever to come up with a theme. … Once we have a rough melody, I like getting on the microphone and mumbling things and just seeing what comes out, and it usually fumbles out of me. There will be a lyric that will pop out, and it will remind me of something that’s going on in my life or some story a friend told me or a movie I’ve watched, and we build it from there. 

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