Johnny Manuel talks about his debut EP and his big plans for 2023

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

It’s a very interesting question. I have a few different projects coming out, so I’m doing a lot of different genres right now, which is cool, but my solo project that’s out now, younger skin, is more R&B based because that’s the core of who I am. It is fundamental for me. And the song that I would like people to listen to there would be “Out of time” simply because it is all-encompassing. It tells the story of who I am as an artist.

You released your first EP, younger skin, in October, and this is your very first solo project. How does this collection of songs reflect where you are personally and as an artist?

This project, for me, meant everything, only because it is the basis. This is the introduction for people who I am as an artist. I’ve been in the recording industry for years, but this is the first time I’ve been 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 it for me – the embodiment of who I am as an artist. It actually tells the story of my journey, and it ends where I am today, which is in this position of empowerment. I have a very good team of people around me. I’m finally able to let my guard down and be completely myself and explore. Every day is a learning process for me.

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

It’s difficult because really the whole project is a complete story. I feel like all the songs can stand on their own, and for me, “Others” really represents… I feel most connected to “The Others” simply because I felt guided while I was writing it, and while we were in the studio, it was so seamless and effortless . The melodies came very easily, and the lyrical content was there, and I really felt like there was something in the room with us, like a bigger energy guiding us [and] like it was definitely the right thing to do right now.

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

It’s a fun process for me. I constantly listen to music, as you can imagine. As an artist, I always draw my inspiration from the things around me but also mainly from music. So whenever I know I’m about to hit the studio to start a new project, I start collecting songs that sound like the direction I want to go and putting together a sound. So sonically, it always comes together like that. And then once I’m in the studio, we usually fiddle around with keyboards and guitars or whatever to find a theme. … Once we have a rough melody, I like to pick up the mic and mumble things and just see what comes out, and it usually escapes me. There will be a lyric that will come out, and it will remind me of something that happens in my life or a story that a friend told me or a movie that I watched, and we build it from there.

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