Johnny Stimson Talks Musical Inspiration, His Friendship With Elton John And What’s Next

Kat Harlton

Life isn’t about simply taking risks. It’s really about choosing the right risk. You could say that pop singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Stimson chose rather wisely.

After landing high-profile syncs on The Vampire Diaries and Trophy Wife and building a growing following, the Dallas native urged a European booking agent to get him a show in London. He had a gut feeling something would happen in the wake of it, so he went across the pond for the gig. The next day, he got a rather unexpected, yet extremely welcome call. Stimson reveals, “Someone at the show knew Elton John, told him about my music, and Elton called me the next morning,” he smiles. “In the following months we built this incredible partnership. I recognized the importance of taking risks, because it was the only way I would’ve been able to do this.”

Baniamir Photography

Drawing from influences as diverse as The Beatles, Tom Misch, Sam Cooke, and Frank Ocean, Stimson brings a distinct sense of soul to pop music—not only through his silk-smooth vocals, but also through his impressive skills on each piano, guitar, and bass. Stimson fuses funk-fuelled soundscapes with soulful R&B rasp and leaned-back grooves, creating and maintaining an irresistibility throughout his music. Inspired by interesting chords and theoretical elements, Stimson’s releases mix the organic with the electronic. He confides, “I want to continue to have sonic variety in my music, but to have common thematic and musical ideas that help the songs work together to tell a complete story”.

Stimson has seen success with his single ‘Holding On’ garnering the title of most Shazam’ed song by an unsigned artist in the UK, as well as reaching Top 40 in the UK’s iTunes charts. Last year, his single “Honeymoon” went viral in Indonesia and landed in #2 spot on iTunes. He has topped the Spotify Viral 50 charts in ten countries, accumulated over twenty five million hits on Spotify alone and received acclaim from publications such as Idolator, Refinery29, MTV Buzzworthy, Nylon, GRAMMY.com, and more. Having toured with the likes of SoMo and Tori Kelly, as well as headlining his own shows across Asia, Stimson is ready to continue the next chapter of his musical career, with ‘Flower’ currently available worldwide.

We had the opportunity to chat with the rising star and discuss being ‘discovered’ by Elton John, musical inspiration and what’s next.

Kat: Can you tell us about your musical style, influences etc?

Johnny: The more music I write and listen to, the more I appreciate all different styles. I grew up learning how music theory worked listening to Beatles songs with my dad. I love music from the 60s and 70s!! Lately I’ve been really into current pop and r&b and have been enjoying finding new artists and new influences. There is so much great music out there!!

Kat: Can you share with us what it was like to be ‘discovered’ by Elton John and what it means to have that support?

Johnny: That was a wild situation! It was so encouraging to meet him and to hear him talk about all kinds of music. He is truly a fan of great songs. He gave me confidence to keep writing music no matter what, and reminded me that my heart was made to sing. The first time we talked on the phone was crazy because his voice was so familiar to me. I grew up listening to this legend and he was calling me about loving my songs!! It was a great feeling and his support has meant a lot to me. He is a gentle and kind man and I’m so proud to call him a friend.

Kat: Can you talk about your songwriting process?

Johnny: I write songs all the time! It’s always a different adventure for me, but usually the melody comes first. I keep a ton of voice memos on my phone of little hooks I think of throughout the day. Whenever I’m back to my piano or guitar I just start finding great chords and thinking about how the song feels. Usually I’ll pick a theme that fits the vibe and the lyrics start to spot their way across the melodies. It’s like the answer is there in my imagination and the puzzle is finding how to translate those imaginary songs into reality.

Kat: You have over 25 million hits on Spotify, what does that mean to you as an artist?

Johnny: It is really amazing to know so many people have listened to my songs. Sometimes I can hardly believe it! I’ve gotten so many sweet messages over the years from people who have connected to my music all over the world. I feel grateful when I see things like that because it reminds me that there’s a bigger purpose for all of this. I hope my music brings people joy and lifts them up wherever they are :)

Kat: What’s on your playlist?

Johnny: Loyle Carner, Tom Misch, Daft Punk, Alexander 23 to name a few.

Kat: What’s next?

Johnny: I have a lot of new music to share!! This is the beginning of a new era for me and I’m so excited about these songs. I plan to do some international gigs this summer and hopefully a US tour in the fall! Haha but today I have to take my puppy for a walk and then do some vocals. One step at a time!!

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