By ERIC SCHELKOPF
On the album, the St. Charles singer-songwriter teams up with Dave Bieritz from his former band Saldo Kreek, which dissolved in 2002. They resumed their musical partnership in 2019 and have released three albums together – "Groove," "2020" and "Appealing To Angels."
Johnson has his own publishing company, Soon To Be Famous Publishing LLC, and is responsible for all distribution and promotion of his work. He makes music out of his home studio in St. Charles.
I had the pleasure of talking to Johnson about his latest project and his musical vision.
Q – “Coffee And Toast,” the first single from “Appealing To Angels,” has received a lot of good press, which must make you happy.
It does, very much so. “Coffee And Toast” is one of those songs that is starting to show the writing style moving from that poppy three and a half minute song to something more orchestrated and with more depth to the song.
The music is really taking on a life of its own. And that’s really, really exciting.
Q – Do you think “Coffee And Toast” has a visual element to it, that people can visualize something listening to the song?
Yes. The music moves you.
It leaves everything wide open to interpretation. You can find your own little space in it.
With the lyrics I’m writing now, they’ve become much more astute. They're becoming more something that everyone can relate to.
Q – Would you say that musically, you are on top of your game these days? It seems like you have tried to progress in your songwriting. I was just wondering if you feel more comfortable as a songwriter these days.
I feel like I am completely in step with what I’m doing and how to reach it inside of me and tap into it and bring it out and work with it like clay.
Q – What do you think changed? Are you just feeling more comfortable in your own skin?
Yeah, I definitely feel more comfortable in my skin. But I also feel that I have more direction.
I actually feel that I have more of a purpose with my music than I ever have.
Q – How long have you been writing songs?
I wrote my first song when I was 16 and I’ve got a 45 RPM vinyl record to prove it. I actually cut a 45 my sophomore year at Geneva High School.
Q – Are you looking to take these new songs on the road?
The short answer is, probably not. I haven’t performed since 2001.
Neither Dave nor I really have a desire to perform live, although we haven’t ruled it out. And we may very well do it, but it’s just not as easy to go about it as it used to be.
It would be an undertaking all on its own to do it. We probably would enjoy it a lot.
If the time is right to do something like that, I’m sure we won’t miss the boat on it.
Q – Are you working on new material?
We’re close to halfway through our fourth release. We’re hoping to have it finished by the end of the year.
More information about Johnson's music can be found on his website, ray-johnson.com.