“Resilience Instead of Perfection”: Josiah Johnson Dives into Debut Solo Album ‘Every Feeling on a Loop’

Josiah Johnson © Sela Shiloni
An album of self-discovery and resilience, Josiah Johnson’s solo debut ‘Every Feeling on a Loop’ is a stunningly deep, dazzling dive into an artist who’s learning to love himself a little bit more every day.
Stream: “False Alarms” – Josiah Johnson




I guess it’s what music does so well, transform whatever pain or anger you’re carrying, or sadness, into something that’s loving and beautiful.

Intimate and inspiring, vibrant and poetic, Josiah Johnson’s debut solo album is a beautiful reckoning.

It’s the kind of record that never stays in one place for very long; one that is strikingly diverse in flavor, yet feels wholly organic through and through. Johnson has an endless stream of lessons to teach and stories to tell. The co-founder of The Head and The Heart has been on a long personal journey since leaving the chart-topping band he started over a decade ago, and if his music is any indication, the past five years have be hard, but ultimately they treated him well: An album of self-discovery and resilience, Johnson’s solo debut Every Feeling on a Loop is a stunningly deep, dazzling dive into an artist who’s learning to love himself a little bit more every day.

Every Feeling On A Loop - Josiah Johnson

Every Feeling On A Loop – Josiah Johnson

Hey kid, you were doing alright
Except when you bought what you were sold
Hey kid, come back to the light
Don’t leave yourself out in the cold
I had to learn to change my tune
Learn new language to talk through
The difference between me and you
The ground we’ve covered,
the hells we’ve held,
and what we’ve seen to be true
– “Hey Kid,” Josiah Johnson

Released September 4, 2020 via ANTI- Records, Every Feeling on a Loop is more of a reclamation and acceptance than it is a protest. It’s a powerfully honest upheaval from Johnson, whose struggles with addiction led him to leave his former group and check himself into rehab. There were moments, throughout that time, that Johnson considered leaving music altogether to explore social work and other ventures – but something inside him kept pulling him back to his first love, and over a span of three long years, the singer/songwriter brought to life an album that deals with identity, growth and change, anxiety, self-love, and so much more.

Josiah Johnson © Sela Shiloni

Josiah Johnson © Sela Shiloni

Johnson explains that the album is a combination of both the aftermath of self-reflection, as well as the self-reflection he needed in order to gain his bearings and overcome personal traumas. “It was right in the middle, just as I was wading through feelings and learning to turn the ship around, and learning how to let the feelings go… Occasionally there’d just be moments where I’d see what the end goal was or get above the situation to have a kind of bigger picture… This is why I keep putting one foot in front of the other in spite of everything.”

Songs like the album’s opener “False Alarms” and focus single “I Wish I Had” resonate deeply for the artist, the latter capturing a big moment of submission and growth as he assumes responsibility for past actions, while recognizing he’s not that same person anymore. “There’s a mid-way point when all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Yes, all of that,‘ and also, “Stop beating yourself up for who you have been.” It’s like, you’re not that person, you’re not going to be that person forever…”

Johnson sings tenderly about sweet guitars and warm brass, his voice hot on the mic and full of feeling:

I wish I had been ready for you
I love your heart and your shaking body too
But I wouldn’t let you in, you had to wait in the dark
All of those years wondering when it would start
So I’m getting used to dropping my pride
I lay it all out for you, I put it all on the line
I take the right way now, instead of the wrong way out
For the first time
Nothing was a mistake, you’ll learn to love along the way
You’ll bend or you will break, either way a life is made
But you cannot fall through the cracks, we’ll be there to bring you back
Hold you ‘til the dark is through, in the way old lovers do


“You can’t control what’s going to happen, and you also can’t control that you didn’t start off fully… No one starts off fully knowing how to live their life,” Johnson says. “You learn by making mistakes… I think once you give up the idea that you’re gonna get it right the first time around and instead learn how to go, “Oh well, I don’t wanna do it that way again or anymore,” and be willing to change and shift course and shift habits, then life opens up.”

Such is the kind of reflection Johnson does throughout his music. From the breathtaking “Woman in a Man’s Life” to the flooring closure in “Solve Problems,” Every Feeling on a Loop indulges in the full spectrum of experience, reeling through hard times and embracing the good.

I was never gonna solve all your problems
I was never gonna make the void easier to bear
Jon, you’re just like me
We don’t take easy on ourselves, do we?
I was never gonna solve all your problems
And neither will the next one
You gotta climb out of that black hole
You gotta do it every day on your own
(I can help you though)
Jon, you’re just like me
Don’t you think it’s time to take it easy
And I’ll be waitin’, I’ll be waitin’, I’ll be waitin’
For you to come and join me
– “Solve Problems,” Josiah Johnson
Josiah Johnson © Sela Shiloni

Josiah Johnson © Sela Shiloni

Whether you’re looking for life advice and philosophical pontificating, or just here for some of the world’s most enchanting folk rock, Josiah Johnson promises a fulfilling experience for all. His music soothes and energizes, inspires and humbles. Sure, Every Feeling on a Loop is his story – but now that it’s out in the world, it belongs to all of us.

In our previous feature on him, Atwood Magazine wrote, “As Josiah Johnson gets underway with his own solo project, we’re learning his decision to leave The Head and The Heart was not only the best move at the time, but also the right choice to make.” If this wasn’t already clear from his recent song releases, then Every Feeling on a Loop is the icing on top: A moving and memorable affirmation that Josiah Johnson is not just surviving; he’s thriving.

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:: stream/purchase Josiah Johnson here ::
Stream: ‘Every Feeling on a Loop’ – Josiah Johnson



A CONVERSATION WITH JOSIAH JOHNSON

Every Feeling On A Loop - Josiah Johnson

Atwood Magazine: Hey Josiah, it's good to connect with you! I'd love to jump right in: Where do you see the purpose of music falling these days? Has it changed at all from where it might have been a year ago or two years ago?

Josiah Johnson: Well, I do think that… I am paying a lot of attention to people that are more on those front lines than I’m finding their work especially useful. I think because I’m not on the front lines in that way, I kind of… I’m just trying to feed space and amplify the work of people that are, whether that’s people covering the protests or just the voices of people of color, and so that’s definitely… Yeah, I think for someone like me, there is just trying to have more of an awareness of making sure that I’m not taking up space that could be better used by someone else. But I think that’s a thing a lot of white musicians and just a lot of people in public-facing jobs are having to reckon with.

That makes sense to me.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah.

So! You’re releasing your solo debut album, Every Feeling on a Loop. Let’s begin with the album release itself. For you personally, what is the context surrounding this album release?

Josiah Johnson: It’s different than I thought it would be because COVID. But I think on a bigger picture, I feel really, I guess, celebratory. Because I feel like there was a time there when I first took a leave from The Head and the Heart when I was dealing with a lot of personal problems that felt like there was… That my head was below water. And all of the magic that I had learned to access and channel and the way that that was… That people connected with what I made, I totally lost touch with that and didn’t have access to that part of myself for a while. And so this album and writing these songs and having these songs contain a lot of the lessons that I learned and the successes that I had, getting back to a place of being someone who creates things and someone who connects with people over music. And someone who writes addiction is hard and confusing, and someone who’s, it’s an incredible thing to be consistently sober that is such a huge win. And so I guess I feel like this album and releasing this album feels really celebratory, which is so weird to say in COVID. And… But it still is for me, just overcoming and learning to live with and work with those demons and finding a place again, for my self and yeah, yeah, it feels celebratory.

I'm really happy to hear that. Listening to it a few times more recently, I started to think about it as an album of resilience, and I'm curious what you would say to kind of that terminology being used.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah, yeah. That reminds me. I feel like I think they’re… I forget where I read it, and they said it a lot better than I’m going to say it, but I love that you brought up resilience because I think I was raised with the idea that your strength was… That your strength was in making sure that you were… That you kept yourself… I don’t know if kept yourself out of trouble is the right word, but kept your footing and keeping your footing and making sure that you did things right and etcetera, I don’t know how to say that. Or making sure that things don’t go wrong. Or making sure that your boat doesn’t tip over.

I think that’s a really tenuous thing to build a house on, is making sure that nothing ever goes wrong, and instead building your house on a foundation of resilience, that if things go wrong, how do you respond to it and like, can you come back? And what are the tools that you use and how well do you practice them? And yeah, that resilience instead of perfection, is a much better foundation for life.

This idea of resilience, this is not a new topic for you. I feel like I can pinpoint areas of The Head and the Heart's first record where I would say, here is this trickle of light streaming through. I wonder if you feel similarly, that this notion of personal welfare has been a topic of importance to you, pre and post your experience with addiction and recovery.

Josiah Johnson: I am curious, what resilience kind of means to you?

I think it refers to individual strength – not necessarily self-reliance, but being true to yourself, acknowledging who you are, what your limits are, and also where you want to reach beyond those limits. It's sort of a broad theme, isn't it? And it can apply to all these different parts of life… but that's also why you can write so many songs that go into that bucket.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah. Yeah, I remember early on my, just a friend of mine talking about that it wasn’t, that your boat doesn’t ever get caught in a storm, but that it’s able to surf on the waves rocking back and forth or something like that, which is a nice poetic way to say it and there’s a whole number of different ways that that can happen… I’m curious what you mean by personal welfare, and I don’t know, or if you want me to just, to guess.

Well, what I had meant by it was looking after oneself, taking care of oneself, and seeing yourself through. I think about songs like, “World's Not Gonna End,” “Woman in a Man's Life,” “Nobody Knows,” and I see them as having this ethos of support. I feel like a lot of your songs have a strain of hope and perseverance to them, and I think that's why I gravitate toward them.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah, yeah, I think… I don’t know exactly. I don’t have a specific memory of when it happened for me, but I remember there being this turning point between… I think, for a long time, the way that I was living my life was to be able to point to the way I was raised or there’s systemic things that feel… There’s systemic things that cause, we’re talking about this now more than we’re ever talking about it, but there’s systemic things in America. There’s systemic things around race, around gender, around this like… I grew up in a pretty… I would say, for someone who’s queer, it was pretty toxic religious context.

And so I think for the first part of my life, I had all of the traumas to point to as to why I was hurting or why I was… I had all these things that I could point to, the way that systems are broken, and that I could feel sorry for myself or play the victim. Which is really funny to… Not funny, but such a silly idea to me now in cultural context, to be a white man talking about… But everyone has their personal traumas and histories that are different. And there’s a point when I realized like, “Oh,” and yet in spite of those, I’m still responsible for taking care of myself, that can be true. Things can be f*ed up culturally, systemically, personal history, and ultimately, I am choosing to make something positive through that or be a victim in it. Just because a lot of things are wrong doesn’t mean that I can’t act right, can’t learn how to take care of myself.

 

“There was anger in my heart, but I come to you with my love...” you sing in “World's Not Gonna End.”

Josiah Johnson: Yeah, there’s some sort of transformation that people learn how to do. I guess it’s what music does so well, transform whatever pain or anger you’re carrying, or sadness, into something that’s loving and beautiful.

Right. I have to ask you to forgive me because I feel that oftentimes, my role as the music journalist and writer can be to try to put music in a box, and I know it doesn't go into boxes easily, so please take every question I ask with a grant of salt, but going off this line, I just quoted your song, “False Alarms,” which is the album's opener. Is this album the aftermath of self-reflection, or was this album literally the act of self-reflection that you needed in order to overcome these personal traumas that you're speaking of?

Josiah Johnson: I think it was right in the middle. It was right in the middle, just as I was wading through feelings and learning to turn the ship around, and learning how to let the feelings go. Oftentimes, it’s all kind of a big gray mass, but occasionally there’d just be moments where I’d see what the end goal was or get above the situation to have a kind of bigger picture of you, or put it in the context of, “it might be this way right now, but it’s not going to be.” You know that everything changes and that life is long… And so I feel like the songs really have a mixture of like, “This is what’s happening right now, and also this is why I have hope, this is why I hope…” This is why I keep putting one foot in front of the other in spite of everything.

I think that's why I come back to this term of resilience then.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah. Yeah.

Let me ask, do any songs specifically resonate with you from this time? Do any of these songs for you particularly capture this experience very well?

Josiah Johnson: I guess I think “False Alarms” feels like the most like, “This is what happened,” in its scope. But I think there were… I’d say, “I Wish I Had” is a big one also. There’s this… I feel like the first half of the song just talks… Starts in the “Man, I really am responsible for that relationship and ending. I really am responsible for that and I’m in the middle of processing what happened.” And there’s a mid-way point when all of a sudden it’s like, “Yes, all of that.” And also, “Stop beating yourself up for who you have been.” It’s like, you’re not that person, you’re not going to be that person forever

I gravitated toward that song too. I really like the lyric, “Nothing was a mistake. You learn to love along the way. You'll bend or you will break either way, your life is made.” I really liked the message that you were conveying there.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah. You can’t control what’s going to happen, and you also can’t control that you didn’t start off fully… No one starts off fully knowing how to live their life. You learn by making mistakes… I think once you give up the idea that you’re gonna get it right the first time around and instead learn how to go, “Oh well, I don’t wanna do it that way again or anymore,” and be willing to change and shift course and shift habits, then life opens up. Yeah, that song… I think a lot of the other… A lot of songs on the album are specific facets to that experience.

Okay.

Josiah Johnson: I feel like “Hey Kid” was like… I listen to that song every time I’m being stubborn.

Really?

Josiah Johnson: And digging my feet in and not wanting to just… Whenever I’m being prideful or whenever I’m avoiding the things that I need to do and I have a choice, any time I’m going back and forth between, “I don’t wanna put myself out there.” It’s gonna be hard and it’s gonna be scary, and I don’t know how people are gonna react or I don’t know how it’s gonna happen. I listen to that song and I go like, “Well, yeah, you can either stay inside. You can either hang out with yourself forever because you’re afraid that something might go wrong at some point, or you can just see what happens, you can participate and see what happens.” And so I feel there are several songs that are kind of more about specific things. But I think “I Wish I Had” and “False Alarms” kind of tell a bigger story.

Right. That's really cool. I think that's really interesting how the songs kind of tie in together, whether it was intentional or not. You strike me as the kind of person who tends to make music consciously or unconsciously for himself. Would you agree with that statement?

Josiah Johnson: It’s definitely therapy. It’s definitely therapy, and I hope that’s one of those kind of magical things. It’s like the therapy that I was giving myself in my room becomes useful to other people, and I couldn’t have known or predicted how that would happen. And just being as honest as possible as I go through it, it’s the biggest gift.

Has music always been a form of therapy for you? Dating back to your earlier days, writing songs, whether with or without The Head and the Heart?

Josiah Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. And I think with The Head and the Heart, I learned to kind of take my therapy and use it as a connecting point for joy and for being real to people. I wrote songs in my room all growing up and didn’t share them with people, and kind of learning to go like, “Okay. I went through this, now I’m gonna pass it on to you, and then we get to connect over it.”

One thing I always loved about The Head and the Heart's music, that I thought made the band stand out from so many others, is that you and your bandmates were never shy of incorporating instruments that were larger than the standard traditional four-piece in any way. I always loved that. Even the idea of having multiple lead vocalists and people trading off, there was this kind of sense of a shared... I don't know what the right word is here, but kind of a shared path...

Josiah Johnson: Yeah, we’re a weird crew.

Yeah. And you know what, I feel like this record continues that tradition where I'm hearing different instruments on every track. When we last spoke, you even mentioned you brought in a lot of different friends to the studio. How did that happen? When did you feel it was time to bring in more than just a man and his guitar if you will?

Josiah Johnson: Yeah, it actually happened live first, which is pretty, I guess, typical for me ’cause I think live is… Actually, I guess it’s funny I say live is my favorite part. But then also recording is my favorite part, so figure that out. But I’ve played all of these songs, I’ve been trying to figure out how to record songs and working with a couple of different friends who do producing and living in the Bay Area now, started making a community while I’ve been living here and sang with people here and just kind of felt… It’s confusing to be without band, that’s the only crew that I’ve known taking my songs and putting, and fleshing them out. And anyway, it was a long process, but one time, a few years, I guess it was end of 2017 maybe or end of 2018, I don’t, the years blend together… But I got asked to come to New York to play at a show, and I had a little bit of a budget to get some people to play with me, and so I asked my friend Pete Lalish who plays lead guitar in that band, Lucius.

And I asked him if he would play guitar with me, and he said yes, and then he was like, he volunteered to help put a band together, and I really love playing with cello, I’m curious about trumpet. And so he just brought the other group of his friends and we rehearsed the song and played a couple of shows the winter of 2018, I think, on the East Coast, and one of my friends that knew me from The Head and the Heart days came and saw one of those shows and he was just like, that was the most Josiah I have seen you on stage. That music, that show was the most Josiah I’ve seen you on stage in so long. It was incredible. And I felt that way too, it was… And so we just got together a few months later to see what recording songs would be like. After two days, I was driving around New York, with my hand out the window, ’cause “Woman In A Man’s Life,” was pretty much done. And it just felt, and I was… Yeah. And it was so much bigger, you should, I think at some point I’ll probably release an acoustic version of this album just because I also love the way that those songs sound. But to hear the songs go from how I originally conceived of them to this thing was exhilarating. And working with strings and working with trumpets, just give this lift to the music, that’s like this, that really just accentuates the joy of these songs for me in a way that’s really cool.

I definitely hope that there comes a time when we do get to hear a second version of that. Somebody once told me, that the sign of a good song is that however it's played, you still love it, and that comes to bear when you start to hear multiple arrangements, doesn't it?

Josiah Johnson: Yeah. Yeah, I’ve heard that from that band, the band Metric, which is pretty electric and synth-y, but I remember them saying that their test was like, “If it doesn’t feel good to play a song around a campfire, then you need to go back to the drawing board.” And so it was kind of weird because I’ve been playing these songs around campfires for like a year or two for some of them before making the album, and I was like, “But they feel so good around the campfire.” I think it was… There was this… There was both, that forever fear of… For me, at least, I was like, I don’t wanna f these songs up and then also… What an opportunity to learn and grow and do, and feel sounds and feel feelings of music that you haven’t gotten to and so… Yeah, anyways, but that recording the songs this way was probably like the third or fourth way that some of the songs got recorded as I was searching for it, so it was definitely a process and…

It's interesting.

Josiah Johnson: And I really grew a lot as a producer by doing all of that.

Josiah Johnson

Josiah Johnson

I can't imagine it's easy to put out this record that has your name on it, and it's the first one of its kind. When you're starting off at the blank slate, it must be hard to define or to accept whatever definition you give yourself.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah. And also, that’s really freeing too. I think I have kind of turned the corner where I think for a long time I did have this… How do I… I guess, yeah, there’s… How do I get it right? How do I define myself entirely in this one thing? And then I was like, “Oh, you’re not going to, but you can start defining yourself and this will be one little piece and then you’ll make another piece later and you’ll make another piece later, and… ” And once I start thinking like that, then this is just one… One opportunity, one really great opportunity to be contributing to… And to be using my creativity for fun and for beauty.

That's great! I like that perspective.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah, you just have to create, you just have to create and this thing will not be the summation of you, but you make it. And then you make another thing, and if you still feel frustrated, then make another thing. You know, it’s like really… Yeah. It’s a total trap to think that you’re gonna sum yourself up in any way, but totally first record is like that. And first record without being able to play the songs live, and the album’s out right away. I’m glad I got the tour kinda before we released before COVID happened with a band, but live shows were such like a defining thing for me. And so we’re all getting to learn new skills, and right now I’m excited, I’m working on a few different music videos for this project, which is not my most immediate medium, and I’m getting to practice and grow in that. So that’s good.

That's fun. One of those things where you have all the time, whether you like it or not. You mentioned the song “Woman In A Man's Life” earlier, and we haven't had the time to talk about that song previously, but it's very special. And I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about its personal significance for you.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah, totally. I think I… For whatever reason, I think growing up in… Growing up anywhere is confusing, but I think growing up in America and growing up in the community that I had definitions of what it’s like to be… What being a man means, has a really specific lineage in America, and it probably included not being vulnerable, taking what you want without asking, and asking for forgiveness later, just this very dominant experience. And I think for me that both have contributed to me having shame that I’ve been fit into that at all times, ’cause I think there’s [both], I think in everyone. I’m really thankful actually to and learn a lot from the work that trans activists do because they’re… It’s right there in their experience on the surface, that how we show up in the world and the traits that are expected of us are constructed, and so I think what I think I identify as… I was raised a boy and up to a man, but I had a lot of traits that were more feminine, I’m very nurturing and very sensitive, and both, like love those things about me, but also had shame that I wasn’t manly enough or whatever.

And I think that song, in addition to a lot of other things, is this kind of celebration of that it’s all in me and that there is no one right way to be a man or a woman, that we’re so much more complex and dynamic than that, and that song feels like owning it and letting go of feeling like I need to fit any particular description of what that is…

This gives me a nice jumping-off point to talk about the album as a whole. Every Feeling on a Loop is such a striking name, and it's a very broad name that to me conjures up a lot of things all at once. What led you to title your debut this way?

Josiah Johnson: Every Feeling on a Loop is actually the name of an embroidery that a friend of mine made for me, and I had that before I made it… Before I put Every Feeling on a Loop lyrics in, “Hey Kid” and then eventually led to be the title of the album, My friend and I, we were both kind of going through it at the same time, and I think one of the features of the way that my addiction works is, I’ll be going along and everything’s fine, and I think for a lot of people, and all of a sudden something feels off or I encounter something that makes me feel uncomfortable, and I just want to get away from that feeling and then you do all sorts of things to numb out or to self-destruct just to avoid participating in the harder parts of life for whatever… That’s just like how it has gone for me.

And so we were both kind of learning to meditate and he was talking about how life just has feelings, that it throws feelings at you all the time, and each one is very real and also doesn’t last forever, and there’s some sort of kind of like that ship on the wave of just learning to go like, “Cool, I’m gonna be sad,” “I’m gonna be lonely,” “I’m gonna be angry,” “I’m gonna be happy,” “I’m gonna be excited,” “I’m gonna be anxious.” All in this just… “I’m gonna be happy again,” “I’m gonna be angry again,” I don’t know why. Who knows why? Who can control what? What feelings come, but they’re just gonna keep coming over and over again on this loop, and there’s no need to be afraid of that, and that’s just the experience of life. There’s some sort of making peace with that is gonna happen and that you don’t need to run from it, and that’s not the end of the world, and all of the things that we were learning at that time, so I think of that.

I feel like this record really serves as a chapter closer, and it serves to really capture a time in your life that... Whether it's still ongoing, I know that we never fully overcome our addictions, do we? We just do better each day.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah.

The music feels very much like a chapter closer, and I'm wondering what you feel the next chapter may have in store.

Josiah Johnson: That’s so great. I do feel both like a sense of closure with this album and in like a sense of beginning at the same time. It’s definitely telling… I’ve been writing songs that aren’t necessarily based on the inner monologue in my head, and I think something that feels really therapeutic to me right now is to not be so navel-gazey, but to be looking to experience the world through other people’s eyes. And so part of that has been writing songs that are just… I don’t need to pick apart the minutia of every part of my life in the same ways that I have, and writing songs that connect to other people’s experiences is really therapeutic. So from the songwriting perspective, I think there are songs like “Honey Come Home” and “Fire/Fear” from The Head and the Heart that weren’t necessarily from my perspective.

And I think writing songs that aren’t necessarily from my perspective, even if they include the feelings that I relate to other people with, so I think from a foreign perspective, I think writing songs that come from looking out instead of looking in, and musically, I think there’s… There’s a lot of learning for me to do, that I’m doing right now, there’s a lot of studying people that make music that I love and learning what it is that they’re doing, and so the way that people like, say, Bon Iver or Björk process, and layer vocals and is really fascinating to me and… And the way that people like Sufjan Stevens and then even like Steve Reich and Philip Glass in the classical world, do things in these loop ways that stack and build and grow, is really exciting for me to explore right now, and so I kinda feel like that, just playing with stuff that other artists inspire me right now. I kind of feel curious about starting songs not just from me with my acoustic guitar in my bedroom and finding ways to have that same intimacy through other avenues.

Josiah Johnson music © Ben Fee

Josiah Johnson © Ben Fee

I feel like this record is so joyous for all that it represents, and I think I sincerely appreciate that about the music. I know you toyed with social work, and that's still there, but it feels like this record is at times a rededication to the music world, and to this love that you first had, then lost, then came back to. And I want to end on that note: When it comes down to it, what really excites you for other people to hear this music at this time? I didn't word that well.

Josiah Johnson: No, no, that’s great. I totally relate to that. That’s such a good way to end it. Thank you for that. Yeah, so I love that you mentioned… I love that you mentioned social work. Yeah, I… There is a part of me that didn’t know whether or not that when music felt really hard and when I had a lot to grieve and let go of, leaving The Head and the Heart, when I felt confusing, and there was a lot of muck around my relationship with music. But as time and on and as I kept writing songs, because that’s what I do when I process my life in the world. I just kept coming back to, this lights me up like very few other things do. And I think it’s really important that people find the things that light them up and they don’t have to do them for work, but that they practice being lit up both for themselves and for the people around them. And so totally making this record and being a musician, is me going like, “I wanna have a relationship with my creativity,” because that is one of the best parts of life. And I think right now is such a hard time for all of us that we used to have our way of doing things and that’s been disrupted.

We used to have plans and that’s been disrupted, and I know all of that pretty intimately from being in a band, and from addiction and all of that stuff, and I know that a lot of people have that experience intimately of like life doesn’t necessarily give you what you expected to give you. And I do think you pointed out that there is… That once we accept, okay, I’m not gonna… Things aren’t gonna happen the way that I thought they might, but like what is here, and there is a path for me that involves joy, there is a path for me that involves… You know, like being alive and feeling alive. And I like, you might not know how it’s going to turn out or I might not know what it is yet, but I’m committed to participating and feeling all the hard feelings because I know that there are good feelings around the corner, and I think that in COVID and just in life in general, I’m really excited for people to have this album so they can connect to hard feelings that they have, and so that they can not just stay in those hard feelings, but get on the other side of that, like feel all of the relief and the joy and like… Yeah, I don’t know, I think music does that acknowledges that it’s hard, and then dances, is my favorite kind of music.

Yeah. So that everyone can feel Every Feeling on a Loop.

Josiah Johnson: Yeah. Don’t be afraid of it.

I like what you just said, it feels like the descriptive equivalent of what your music expresses so eloquently. Thank you. Are there any artists you're really excited about these days, whom you would recommend to our readers and listeners?

Josiah Johnson: I always forget them off the top of my head, but let me open up. I’ve really been loving the Waxahatchee album that came out this year, and then Bonny Light Horseman (Fruit Bats and Anaïs Mitchel, if you know either of those people; they released their only album within the last year). And I’d say this new weirdo Sufjan Stevens album that’s coming out, are the things that I’m looking to most right now.

Wonderful. Well, listen, thank you as always so much, but especially for your time today. Congratulations on this music, and I look forward to sharing the story.

Josiah Johnson: Thanks so much, Mitch. I hope that you’re generous in your editing. And I appreciate… Yeah, you bringing your curiosity is, it’s really nice to talk to you and be in conversation with you, so thank you.

Thank you! Have a great day and talk to you soon.

Josiah Johnson: Bye Mitch.

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His Head, His Heart, and a Fresh Start: An Interview with Josiah Johnson

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Josiah Johnson Captures Our Head & Our Heart with Solo Debut “World’s Not Gonna End”

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com