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a must-see artist: mustbejohn | music

The week before his first headline gig at The Waiting Room, mustbeJohn was strongly focused on the recent release of his latest EP, I’m In If You Are.

“Right now, I’m tryna not to think about it too much, but I definitely will be nervous, but I feel like that’s ‘cause you care... so I’m always a bit nervous, whatever it is.”

The nerves must have paid off, as it could not have gone better. The star got the chance to play both his new tunes and some unreleased tracks. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait long to hear these! In his element, the musician gleamed in his sold-out show, and not a second went by where you could not tell from the crowd.

When asking about his new release, he was able to tell me how it all came together and how it feels to be performing the songs live. Raised in Hertfordshire, mustbejohn’s music deals with the complexities of growing up, relationships, and his mates back home. Sitting down with him, we delved into each of the EP’s tracks and what’s next for him.

Is Hertfordshire where you get your main writing inspiration from?

‘I grew up there, so I guess a lot of my inspiration comes from situations and things that happened when I was growing up, like, with my mates, or relationships and things like that. Then again, I feel like now, [with] my current day to day life, I’m sort of flicking between both. So, I feel like it’s obviously gonna come from different places.

And did you gradually just decide to make music?

‘Yeah, well, I've been making music since I was like thirteen. I think I started at 18 ‘cause that’s when I started uni. It was quite natural to be fair, I wasn’t really as on it as I was when I was younger, but I still wanted to do it… He (university friend) was just sort of making beats and I was like, um, I liked one of them. [We] started vibing out, freestyling and made Jenny’s House.’

How long have you been working on this EP that’s just come out?

'You know what, this EP, ‘cause of all the lockdown stuff, took longer than I wanted, but I reckon like two years. I’ve made so much music in the two years, but it’s just like those are the six that we thought were the best to put out right now.

There were a couple more [songs], one more EP... and then we’ll talk about albums and stuff like that. If it was up to me, I would just make it and put it out, but it can’t really work like that. We’ve got like, for the next EP, we’ve got like I reckon, 75% of that done.

I reckon, first single (for the next EP) late January/ February. I wanna keep it consistent.'

Did you hold back Raining Colours because of Covid?

'It’s easy to overthink things, but eventually, we were just like, nah we gotta drop this.

The last two tracks that were made (for the EP) were like, I put out Raining Colours which is like the first single off the EP but I hadn’t even made like Lucy yet. I hadn’t made that yet. That was the last one that I made for this EP, I made that in June or something like that.'

You’ve said that Jenny, the title of the previous single, isn’t about anyone specifically…

‘She’s someone specific to me, but everyone does know a Jenny.’

So, who’s Lucy?

‘It’s the same thing, I can’t lie.’

You’ve got an affinity for names, is this on purpose?

‘I feel like I’ve got a lot of memories just with people growing up, like everyone does… People have memories of certain friends or girls or anything like that, and I feel like, sometimes when I’m writing it just comes naturally to me to sort of, like, write about the sort of memory I have of a specific person, and I feel like that’s just sort of where that comes from. Funnily enough, [for] my next EP, I’ve written another one.’

So, when it comes to collaborations, you have 3 on the EP, how do you choose who’s gonna feature? What attracts you to it?

‘You know what, it was all fairly natural, I can’t lie. With Feux, for instance, we’d just been speaking for a while, like, um, I met him for some other sort of stuff I was doing…

I made Lucy, and I just sent it to him… I knew it wasn’t really, his like, lane… usually he’s on another sort of lane, but I thought oh, you know what, let me send it to him and see what he’s thinking. I sent it to him, and he was completely on it, he was like yeah man.

I have a lot of respect for Feux, man. He’s a sick guy.

Is that why it’s easier to make music with your friends? Because it felt more natural, if it felt forced would you be apprehensive to put the song out?

‘Yeah, to be honest, I think if anything feels forced, you’re gonna hear it in the record as well… If you hear something in the studio, I think it’s quite easy to tell if someone is a) being themselves and b) believing in what they’re saying on the track.’

Do you prefer collaborating or making solo music?

‘I don’t know, you know. These were sort of the first times I’d, like, tried to do it or done it, so I reckon it’s something I definitely wanna do more, ‘cause it’s cool to bounce ideas with one another, or sort of get that vibe across, but especially now that the lockdown’s done and stuff, ‘cause we can do it in person. But then again, I like making music on my own, I feel like sometimes I just wanna tell a specific story and if it’s something personal to me, I feel like sometimes only I can share it.’

Were there any songs you felt that way about?

‘Yeah, but not by force, like Raining Colours. Day by Day as well, that one I thought was quite personal in a way about, like, my past two years. So, with that one I felt like I had to make sure it was just me on it.’

Performing these songs live has been a long time coming for mustbeJohn and after feeling the energy from the crowd at his first sold out show, I’m sure it’s the first of many.

mustbeJohn’s new EP, I’m In If You Are, is available now to stream.

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