8 Things You Should Know About Fallapalooza’s Opening Act TWAANKALU

To kick off an exhilarating Sunday evening, students of Loyola Marymount University were able to see the epic debut of an up and coming artist. Fallapalooza’s opening act TWAANKALU, spent three weeks as a resident assistant for LMU’s The Learning Community (TLC), a program that is dedicated to the success of first year African American students. I was one of the 36 students blessed to have the opportunity to be guided by him. Last week, I was able to sit down with TWAANKALU, or as I know him Stevie Johnson, and get to know him a little more.


He plans to stay in LA after he graduates.

As a native to Augusta, Georgia, Stevie acknowledges the fact that there are not too many opportunities for him creative wise back home. He has made many connections within his four years at LMU and plans to fully utilize them.


He studied abroad in South Africa.

In May of 2017, Stevie studied abroad for three weeks in South Africa. He chose to travel abroad to conduct research in the animation industry and looked into how it was a reflection of a post-apartheid identity. While abroad, TWAANKALU played with vocal effects. He was presented with the option of rapping and/or singing depending on what sound he wanted to go for.


He is a futuristic R&B artist.

TWAANKALU is a futuristic R&B artist and you can hear this both through his soulful vocals and deeper toned voice. Additionally, he incorporates much electronic production, including the bass of live instruments, synthesizers, and trap bass like electronic drums. In Stevie’s words, it’s “very in your face”.


In addition to his parents, his friends are some of his biggest inspirations.

Stevie said, “I’m like the freshman of my music friends.” He reflected on his beginnings with music and described it as “trash” but is thankful for his friends trained perspectives and ability to give him constructive criticisms to move forward. Special shout out to Graelia, Khalil, and Aaron.

There is a special person in his life.

After spending 19 consecutive days with someone, you can easily pick up on distinct character traits. I quickly noticed that Stevie was a very private person who only shared intimate details of his life when absolutely necessary. I used this article as an excuse to finally ask if there was someone special in his life and he responded, “Without saying too much. I’m talking to somebody. There’s somebody in the picture.”


He appreciates Vocal Instructor Barbara Dyer for being real.

Stevie reflected on his early meetings with Dyer. “I realized that she wasn’t hyping me up like I thought she was, like I didn’t really take her seriously. She said I had a lot of potential and a lot of uh-- I would go places. She’s somebody that believed in me but I was like ehhhh I’m not really out here doing anything special. I’m just trying to get this one credit.” He describes her as wonderful and very talented. Dyer’s support was a factor in Stevie’s realization of his potential and later awareness that if he put in the hard work, he could succeed.


He strives to make a long lasting impact on anything he does.

Since Stevie spent a portion of his summer being my RA, I wondered if he felt personally connected to mentoring to teenagers or people after him who could use his guidance. He explained, “Personally, I prefer to have long term service that I have invested in. I find that it is more rewarding.” More specifically, he comments about TLC saying that, “It’s very fulfilling to me to see like y’all come through. Like TLC is not a program it’s a season.” Stevie plans to give back to the TLC program financially in the future.


He is a fan of M.I.A.

He describes her as an “interdisciplinary creative” which is what he strives to be. I knew M.I.A. to be an activist, rapper, singer, and songwriter. Stevie informed me that she is also a graphic designer and record producer. He adds that, “She’s the whole package and that’s kinda like a creative that I strive to be”


Be sure to follow @TWAANKALU on instagram and check out my extended interview with him on youtube!