“I’m not in Philadelphia anymore, I have moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams of being an indie musician!” proclaims Jawny with a giggle. “If you’d have told me two years ago that I’d be living in LA I would have said you were fucking crazy, but I’m blessed to be able to eat and pay my rent and make music, so thank you momma for raising a fucking rock star.”
It’s not just his accommodation that Jawny - formerly known as Johnny Utah - has upgraded over the past months, either. After spending more than a decade of his still-young life making music (“Me and my brother were like, ‘We’re gonna make beats, and we’re gonna be famous rap stars and we’re gonna produce for Pharrell’ - this is when we were like, 12 years old,” he notes) the singer spawned a viral YouTube hit in last year’s breezy ‘Honey Pie’, racking up nearly nine million views on the platform (and 70 million in total across the board) to date. “I knew this song was gonna do good - I was manifesting it you know? - but every goal I wanted to hit, I quadrupled the benchmark I set for myself,” he recalls.
It seems like the logical way for an artist like Jawny - one who began tinkering with free music tech and combining his love of artists as wide (and strangely rhyming) as The Killers, Gorillaz and Mac Miller from a young age - to come through. When he’s not getting dressed up for photoshoots, he might look like a guy who sits around getting stoned to Butthole Surfers (one heavily-liked YouTube comment compares his slacker aesthetic to a “healthy Mac DeMarco”), but in reality the singer is clearly someone who knows it wasn’t all better back in the day. “It’s more of a community now. Spotify, playlists, Instagram… if it was the ‘90s, I’d have to literally travel around the world [to connect with fans]. But because I’m an artist today, I can pull out my phone and have that blue screen rush in a few seconds!” he grins.
With a new EP-shaped ‘project’ set to land shortly - one that demonstrates his broad-reaching music tastes and cheeky knack for a hook - Jawny’s ready for the real work to begin. “‘Honey Pie’ is a match under my ass to show I can write even cooler music,” he says. “And it’s not about topping it or competing to get more streams, I just wanna make music I love for people that love it.”
As featured in the June 2020 issue of DIY, out now.