INTERVIEW with Professional DJ/Producer Johan Davis

Johan Davis is a professional DJ/Producer. After working for some years in the clubs, he started creating his own music. His songs tell stories: some of them will make you laugh, some will make you cry, others might make you fall in love… but they will all surely make you dance! So, follow the rhythm and make it enter your heart… maybe the next song will be about you…

  1. When and how did you get started producing music, and do you have any formal training?

Johan Davis: My relationship with music is very long, but I have only started to devote myself to production in the last 2 years. My experience as a DJ was very useful and allowed me to learn sound processing techniques faster.

  1. For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as a producer, and the transition towards your own style?

Johan Davis: It is difficult to understand when you stop imitating your idols and when you start producing what you have in your head. At first it’s common to try copying and it’s a useful path because you better understand the intricacies behind a single track. By improving skills, creativity will emerge and finally you stop “imitating”.

  1. Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?

Johan Davis: The first spark was lit thanks to the Turkish DJ and producer Mahmut Orhan, it was after listening to him that I decided I wanted to become a producer. Since that moment I have listened to many artists and a lot of deep and tropical music, but my attention has fallen on the 2 greatest masters: Kygo and Lost Frequencies.

  1. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with people?

Johan Davis: My music offers apparently simple and very catchy sounds, I am the man of catchphrases, it is impossible to listen to one of my songs without keeping the tune in mind all day long. To the melody, I have always combined a rather complex and profound text. I like to use music to communicate something, to tell stories, to arouse emotions not only with music but also with words. In the end, I try to create the right ambient to give people a voice and tell their stories, everyone’s stories.

  1. What do you think separates you from the crowd of producers emerging right now?

Johan Davis: House music has many sub-categories, the feeling is that when you go into a sub-category, you find music that is very similar to each other. Producers pay close attention to using the hottest tools of the moment, to adhere to precise metrics ideal for streaming algorithms, etc. Personally, I follow my taste. I have 25 years of experience in the music industry and I want to convey this experience in every song. I don’t care about conforming, I don’t care about the algorithms or what tool “everyone is using”. I simply follow my taste and offer authentic music, created by passion.

  1. What is your process when composing a beat? Where do start, and what usually comes into your head first – the tune, the rhythm or the vibe?

Johan Davis: Good question. The beginning of a job is very confusing, sometimes you have a vague idea of ​​what you want to accomplish, but other times you don’t. When you have no ideas, the simplest method is to create a chord with the piano, put a kick under it and start building a bass line with the reference chord. Getting this is a great place to start and you will just need to add instruments and play with the musical notes. It seems like a somewhat simplistic method, but I can assure you that most of the world’s hit songs were created this way.

  1. How strict are you with genres? Are you comfortable working with other genres that are outside of your preferred style, if asked?

Johan Davis: It is right for an artist to move within a well-defined genre, it is part of the identity and the artistic path. However, I want to remember that my first school is that of DJing and knowing how to work with different musical genres is quite normal. I love artists and tracks from other musical genres, but the Deep and Tropical genre, I feel closer to me. I have thought several times of producing a track of a different genre, I really like the styles of Martin Garrix and Armin Van Buuren, but I would risk losing my artistic direction, whoever follows me does it for my musical style.

  1. What key ingredients do you always try and infuse into your production work?

Johan Davis:  The key element is the atmosphere. I work a lot on the sound, it’s important to create clean, unique and quality sounds. Music must be enveloping and create a reassuring experience for the listener. I like to think that my music is pleasant to dance but pleasant to listen to.

  1. How much do current popular songs from the radio or club scene influence your music, creative approach and/or production decisions? Is it something you pay attention to, or do you only follow your own template?

Johan Davis:  Obviously it would be impossible to work in the music industry without being updated on current trends. Personally I focus on the details: a riff, an instrument in particular, a sudden change of pitch .. small details that inspire me always new creations.

  1. If you were forced to make a choice, which would you ultimately prefer – working up a crowd in a club, or creating a song in the studio?

Johan Davis:  One million question. They are two different things, working with the crowd is fun and creates a lot of excitement. Working in the studio is creative and very stimulating, but you always imagine the effect it would have on a crowd. Forced, I think I would repeat my path: first the crowd and then the study. Creating songs without knowing the audience would be impossible.

  1. What were some of the main challenges, difficulties you faced when starting out as a producer and which are the difficulties you are facing now, if any?

Johan Davis: At the beginning every single phase is a difficulty, maybe you have something good in your head, but you realize for the first time how difficult it is to transform an idea into a sound. It takes a lot of passion and a lot of work, but the satisfactions arrive. Currently, the biggest difficulties are getting to the public. The music market is full and raising your hand to get noticed is more and more difficult. With a lot of effort, I am also trying to overcome this challenge.

  1. What was your first hardware/software set-up as a producer like? Has your setup evolved since then, and what for you is the most important piece of gear in your production process right now?

Johan Davis: By now the music production work is all handled by the computer and I immediately started working with professional software. I don’t know if I can advertise, but personally I started working with FL Studio from Image-Line, I liked it and I have no reason to replace it. Over time I have improved my work studio, looking for better acoustics and quality musical instruments.

  1. Which aspect of being an independent producer excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?

Johan Davis: The best thing is freedom. The freedom to be able to create what you want, when you want, where you want and how you want. I have the opportunity to follow my instincts and my creativity at 360 degrees. I have been contacted by some labels and I do not exclude the possibility of working with one of them in the future, but at the moment, for my artistic career, I think it is better to follow my ideas and not be told what to do. The downside is having to manage each publication alone and thus having to waste a lot of time on activities that are not strictly artistic.

  1. Where do find, and how do you choose, the vocal talents performing on your tracks? And do you also collaborate with other producers?

Johan Davis:  I only choose the singer after completing my song, so I know exactly what kind of vocals I want on the track. I search diligently online and prepare a file with all possible candidates. Thanks to social media, I can contact the chosen talent and discuss the project. I have contacts with some producers and we often exchange opinions or ideas, at the moment I have not yet created a song in collaboration with another producer but… I’m working on just that, so I hope to have a nice surprise soon.

  1. In general, do you consider Internet and all the social media platforms as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with this new technology at hand?

Johan Davis: Internet and social media have changed the world and it is the most present technology in people’s free time, yes I consider a good use of digital platforms to be fundamental in order to reach the public. By nature I am not very social, but above all as an independent artist, I devote a lot of effort to this activity, because it is the only way to potentially obtain a worldwide exposure.

  1. If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?

Johan Davis: I believe my music always manages to express sensuality and a sense of intimacy. I create soft but powerful kicks as if they were heartbeats and a slightly mischievous melodic ride that plays with the listener’s mind. I want to reach people’s hearts and not just their ears. The overall feeling is that when you listen to one of my songs, you can’t sit still, you immediately want to move and dance, but you also want to sing. Music is emotion, not a mathematical interlocking of notes.

  1. Could you tell us something about your latest release?

Johan Davis: “My Obsession” is my latest creation, it was released on June 3rd and is already carving out its space. For this song I decided to use the electric guitar, it was my first time and I had a lot of fun! Each tool requires a different kind of work and it’s nice to try something new every time. The song revolves around a guitar riff that will enter your head and never leave you! Another extraordinary element is the voice, for “My Obsession” I had the opportunity to work with KEL Moncado, an extraordinary singer, already known to the public, who was able to take the track to a higher level. I challenge anyone not to want to dance or start singing with KEL about her after her “yhee ehh ehh”

  1. Do you have a favorite track among your releases, which maybe has an interesting backstory and/or message that is very important or personal to you?

Johan Davis: I don’t know if it’s my favorite track, but surely “Summer Again” was the most difficult to manage emotionally and certainly the most personal. Despite its very summery, tropical and holiday environment, it hides a very sad and melancholy text. Unfortunately “Summer Again” is not an invention, I was inspired by the disappearance of a friend and unwittingly, I talked about her in my song, trying to imagine the emptiness she left in the life of her partner. It was difficult to manage my emotional side, but I am happy to have created “Summer Again” and to have left a memory of Sarah.

  1. If you had the choice to produce for any current international artist today, who would that be, and why?

Johan Davis: “Creating for” is not exactly what I want, “Creating with” certainly is. There are some producers I would like to work with, the biggest dream would be to work with Lost Frequencies, artistically I find it monstrous! Speaking of singers, I have 3 favorite stars that I dream of working with: my favorite is Dua Lipa, I love her voice and I think it would be perfect for my style. I would love to work with Selena Gomez too, I think we have similar characters and it would create a great artistic feeling. Finally, the purest talent: Sia, but of course, who wouldn’t want to work with Sia?

  1. Do you have a specific vision or goal that you would like to achieve in the near future?

Johan Davis: I think reaching the top is everyone’s dream, but work and commitment are not enough. I think it makes more sense to create more realistic goals and achieve those. My main goal remains to improve people’s mood, even if slightly, which I think is the greatest privilege. Speaking of professional goals, I am working on a rather ambitious project and I am curious to see how it goes, if it goes well, I will bring back to the music scene something incredible that has left a huge void. I’m crazy and crazy challenges make me feel normal.


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Rick Jamm

Journalist, publicist and indie music producer with a fervent passion for electric guitars and mixing desks !

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