INTERVIEW: Mallory Johnson

1. Hi Mallory, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi! Thanks for having me 🙂  I’ve been keeping busy despite the current COVID-19 situation. I flew home to Canada in March expecting to start a nation-wide radio tour, but like everyone else in the music industry, my tour was cancelled. Thankfully, I’ve been able to spend the extra time with my family! I’ve also been doing a lot of songwriting and trying to engage more with fans online.

2. Can you talk to us more about your latest single, “Drunk Mind, Sober Heart” ?

“Drunk Mind, Sober Heart” is the B-side of my digital 45 that I released earlier this year. It’s a song that I wrote with my friends Tenille Arts and Kae Bellows on St. Paddy’s Day a couple of years ago. We were enjoying the day drinking margaritas and listening to Irish Newfoundland music, when one of us got a text from an ex-boyfriend. Tenille’s response was “A drunk mind speaks a sober heart.” So, we topped up our margaritas and sat down at 1am in my living room and wrote this heartbreaking song. I’m sure happy we did, because it’s one of my favourites and the song has an exciting life to it. It was nominated this year for “Best Country Song” at the Independent Music Awards and also selected as a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition! 

3. Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

The song was definitely inspired by true events, but not all taken from one specific relationship. It was important to not paint anyone out to be the “bad guy” because we’re all guilty of letting our guard down when it comes to the familiarity of a past relationship, especially when alcohol is involved. 

4. How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

I’m so proud of this video. Im extremely lucky to have a brother, Cecil Johnson, who is so passionate about film. He took the reins on this one as the role of producer, director, and editor. He did an incredible job and delivered everything I wanted and more. We filmed the video in my hometown at one of my favourite bars called The Bull and Barrel. We wanted the master vocal shot to be set in a smoky dive bar at closing time, creating the perfect recipe for missing someone and sending a late night text. The b-roll shots were flashbacks of a relationship and I was so excited to have my friend Jeff Sullivan jump on board and play my ex-boyfriend. We’ve played romantic co-leading roles in some musical theatre productions in the past, so filming those scenes was effortless and fun! 

5. How was the recording and writing process?

“Drunk Mind, Sober Heart” was produced by my friend Dustin Olyan, and we recorded it at The Sound Emporium in Nashville. We knew going in that we wanted the vocals to be the star of the show and the production to be pretty stripped down. I think my favourite thing about the production of this song is the strings. Avery Bright (U2, Dolly Parton, One Republic, Kelsea Ballerini) wrote the string arrangement and it was so magical to hear it come to life in the studio. 

The writing process happened pretty organically. Tenille, Kae, and I are really close so it was easy to be vulnerable during the write. We were also drinking margaritas all day so that helped haha. It was quite literally drunk minds speaking from sober hearts. 

6. What was it like to work with Tenille Arts and how did that relationship develop?

I first met Tenille at the CCMAs a few years ago. She was playing the Discovery Showcase and I decided to introduce myself after her performance. A few months later I was heading to Nashville for a writing trip and decided to reach out to her to schedule a session. We’ve been great friends ever since 🙂 She’s a beautiful person inside and out and deserves every success. It’s been so cool to see her star rise. 

7. Do you tend to take a different approach when you are working with someone else rather than on your own?

Definitely! The process is always a little different from one session to the next whether I’m in the room with someone else or by myself. Sometimes lyrics lead the write, sometimes the melodies. Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot more time co-writing. I love co-writing because you get a mixing pot of talents and experiences to work with. Co-writing is so important to grow as a writer and it has definitely helped me improve. When I’m on my own, I tend to experiment more but at the same time you can’t really bounce ideas off anyone. I second-guess myself a lot when I’m writing by myself. 

8. What role does Newfoundland play in your music?

Newfoundland plays a huge role in my music. I grew up playing Celtic and Irish Newfoundland music so there’s definitely some of those elements intertwined with the music I play now. There are a lot of similarities between the two genres like the instrumentation and the storytelling. 

9. Does the new single mean we can expect more music in the near future — how’s that coming along?

It sure does! As soon as I can get back to Nashville, my plan is to hop back into the studio and record some new music. I have a handful of songs that I’ve been playing live for a while and I’m eager to get them recorded! 

10. Any tentative release date or title in mind?

There’s no date set in stone, but I’m hoping I can release new music early in the new year, if not sooner. 

11. What else is happening next in Mallory Johnson world? 

Hopefully get back out on a stage soon! I’ve been rebooking shows that had to be pushed due to the pandemic, so fingers crossed I’ll be able to perform in front of a live audience in 2021 :)! 

Watch “Drunk Mind, Sober Heart” Music Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQbSgxq2p04

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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