PROFILE: Carlie Johnson

Earlier this week, I sent Carlie Johnson, a junior songwriting major at Belmont, a few questions about her recent release, “I Don’t Wanna Party Anymore (IDWPA)”.  She responded to me from the comfort of her apartment with a slice of vegan pizza in hand:

Could you give us a little background on the new single?

IDWPA, in its earliest conceptual stages, was going to be an angry, antisocial, anti-party anthem that fortunately ended up being scrapped during production of ‘Pasadena’. After attending a friend’s funeral this summer, the acronym made its way back into my mind in a very different light. I spent the majority of the next weeks alone in my room, thinking and writing about everything. I had never attempted to write a ballad, let alone one with a topic so raw and personal, but I felt obligated to try.  

What was your method for writing and producing this song?

Though I ended up restarting from scratch, I wanted to hold onto the ‘alone in a crowded room’ aspect of the first draft. I based the entire song and melody off a pulsing synth sound I discovered, because it made me feel like the room around me had sort of slowed down. I was running up and down the stairs between my midi keyboard in my bedroom and our grand piano in the living room, trying to find sounds and write feelings all at once. I wanted ambiguity in the instrumentation to compliment the bluntness of the lyrics, so I took a more experimental approach to the earlier production stages. 

Where is your favorite place to write?

I almost exclusively record and produce in the comfort of my own room, sometimes even from the comfort of my own bed! If I can see or feel another person’s presence, I automatically have some sort of guard up, so I prefer to be alone.   

What kind of support have you seen from Belmont students and faculty regarding this song?

I was extremely surprised by the positive response I got from students and faculty alike, just considering the nature of the song. I presented IDWPA to my songwriting class earlier this semester, and a classmate that I had essentially just met came up to me after class and hugged me. Knowing that this song resonates with people is the ultimate payoff, no matter how taxing the writing process was. 

You often associate yourself with a more ‘Kansas City sound’. Can you elaborate on what that means?

The Kansas City music scene is an entirely different environment than any other city I've visited or played in. Our most popular radio station is extremely supportive of up-and-coming artists, so there is generally less pessimism and negativity among the locals. The DIY scene is huge because of this, creating a lot of hardworking, genre-bending acts that are generally very supportive of one another. 

What artists are you most influenced by at the moment?

I just discovered an artist named Tash Sultana who has been a huge on both my music and my outlook on life. She built her sound and career entirely by herself, having started out with nothing and being forced to just make the best of what she had. She's now extremely successful and touring by herself as a one-man band, and if that isn't the ultimate goal, I don't know what is. 

Over the summer, you were featured in a zine titled “Wayward”. Have experiences with artists of other mediums impacted your ability to network?  How does photography inspire you?

Being featured as an artist, whether it be in a zine or any other social platform, has been one of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences I've had as a musician. Write-ups and features remove the anonymity and distance from the equation, which is basically a direct response from listener to reader. As someone who previously struggled with fears of not reaching listeners, this representation is truly the backbone of my motivation and artistic confidence. In reference to the zine specifically, Jenna (the photographer and creator of 'Wayward') gave me the means to express myself and sort of capture my essence without directly referencing my music at all. I have always been a huge fan of multimedia art and the intermingling of art forms, and was very excited to be included in such a mutually-beneficial project. 

Do you have any advice for other songwriting majors at Belmont trying to navigate their way through all of the other music-focused majors?

Being a songwriter in a room full of music business majors doesn't always have to be a bad thing! I actively try to take as much as I can from every class I take, person I meet, and situation I put myself into. I've learned to love the administrative side of the business during my time at Belmont, and it has completely changed my perspective on the industry as a whole in many ways. I try to keep my mind and my options as open as possible. 

Can we expect more releases from you anytime soon? 

IDWPA is just one part of a much, much bigger whole. I've got a plan for another single release later this month, and some big ideas I plan to pursue as the year wraps up. I am very excited for the future, and to see how things turn out.


You can find Carlie’s other work on SoundCloud here:

Twitter: @C4RLIE


Instagram: @calrie


All photos provided by Jenna Lanae

Instagram: jennaxlanae

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