Jillette Johnson

An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Jillette Johnson
by John Noyd
March 2014

Jillette Johnson

Jillette Johnson

Singer-songwriter Jillette Johnson began performing at the tender age of twelve, but years in the business have done nothing to harden her outlook on making music. Balancing piano-driven intimacy with an urgent openness, her songs are both quietly inviting and boldly direct, building into a floodgate of swirling emotions that sweep in unexpected leaps while holding fast to rock-solid beliefs; traversing romantic semantics and sexual politics with daring diplomacy wrapped around vampish fantasy. Still only in her early twenties, Jillette’s dramatic pathos reveal a tenacious optimist skillfully capturing life’s passionate battles in surging orchestrations, lyrical twists and boundless bravado; gracefully capturing love’s inevitable turbulence with a sure hand and a steady heart. In anticipation of her forthcoming visit to Madison, we sat down and asked her a few questions. 

MAXIMUM INK: When did you first feel you had something to offer the world?
JILLETTE JOHNSON:
I was four and I told my dad I wanted to be a rock star.

MI: Were you musically precocious, unnaturally imaginative or prematurely literate?
JJ:
Yes, yes, and yes. I was quite a little hurricane.

MI: What other outlets does your creative energy express itself?
JJ
: I have an affinity for vintage coats.

MI: What aspect of your personality might be construed as a blessing and a curse?
JJ
: I’m unabashedly wide-eyed.

MI: If you could change one thing about yourself what would that be?
JJ:
I wish I had more control over my lust for vintage coats… and my anxiety.

MI: What do you find to be the most difficult idea to capture in song?
JJ
: Whatever it is I’m going through right that moment. I’m a nostalgically emotional writer. In other words I usually need some time to process before I can write a song about it.

MI: What songwriters have inspired you and in what ways might you try to emulate them?
JJ
: Carole King in her simplicity and sincerity; Paul Simon in his wit, lyrical rhythm and sense of pop; Joni Mitchell in her whimsy and her everything; Randy Newman in his ironic sadness.

A charming and dynamic performer, Ms.. Johnson visits Madison’s The Frequency April 2nd opening for indie-pop rocker WAKEY! WAKEY! and performing songs from her Wind-up Records debut, “Water In A Whale.”

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Jillette Johnson
CD: Water in a Whale Record Label: Wind-Up Records
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