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Johanna Samuels

Music is such an important part of our day to day at the store, we love setting the day right with some tunes to keep us afloat even in the most "Monday" of Mondays. We're lucky enough to have two musicians on our team, with music we love and can dance and work to. Johanna is a friendly face and kind spirit that can be found holding down the shop a few days out of the week-- this week we got to see her in her element, in front of the piano, and with her sweet pup June. Read on to get to know more about her writing process and music journey. If you're in the UK, you can catch her live all the way through September! ...and if you're chilling at home (okay or maybe work) like the rest of us, listen to her beautiful voice on Spotify.


Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

My name is Johanna Samuels. I’m a musician currently based out of Los Angeles. I write songs, record and perform them. I guess I make music in anyway that I can.


 
What albums should be in everyone's vinyl collection?
Oh no! I feel like I'll never be able to properly answer this question but here are some favorites that I own:
Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”
Elliott Smith's "Figure 8" and "Either / Or"
George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass"
Nina Simone's "To Love Somebody"
Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk"
Aimee Mann's "Bachelor No. 2"
Sharon Van Etten's "Epic"
Stevie Wonder's "Innervisions"
The Beatles' "Revolver" and "Abbey Road"
Wilco's "Summerteeth"
Sly & The Family Stone's "Fresh"
Neil Young's "Neil Young" and "After the Goldrush"
The Kinks "Lola Vs. The Powerman and the Moneygoround"
Emitt Rhodes "Emitt Rhodes"
Bob Dylan's "Desire", "Blonde on Blonde" and "Highway 61 Revisited"
Jimi Hendrix's "Axis: Bold as Love"
Tom Petty's "Damn the Torpedos" and "Full Moon Fever"
Paul Simon's "There Goes Rhymin' Simon"
John Lennon's "Imagine" and "Plastic Ono Band"
The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" and "Surfs Up"



How would you describe the relationship and intimacy behind turning thoughts and feelings into sound?
I guess a song, for me starts out in the most intimate form possible... things I have trouble even admitting or saying out loud let alone to anyone else. Then as I go thru the process of recording them, playing them live and releasing what we've recorded I have to let go of what was originally something super personal. I've had a few boyfriends of women I love sheepishly come up to me after shows asking if a song I sang was about them, when it definitely was not. I think we always project our own life onto lyrics - which is what I love about songwriting. It's the safest way I know how to be intimate. Being specific and vulnerable can translate to someone else as being about something completely different and really personal to them... in that way it is a universal medium.



Where are you finding light and joy lately?
My dog. June.
I love to swim and lay in the sun. 
I've also been making music and laughing really hard with friends who make me feel loved and accepted as I am. 
I'm getting a lot of joy out of being myself more.



Where's your favorite venue to play at in LA/one everyone should experience at least once?
Bootleg Theater. It's a very special place. I feel like I could get my mail delivered there. It might make more sense.



I know this question's broad, but where do you find the inspiration for your work? Does it come easy or do you have to go out chasing it?
Sometimes it comes instantly from the tiniest things - like an interaction on the street between a mother and her little kids, or a man's face in the window of a car next to me at a stoplight... having my heart broken bonkers by a fuckboy. etc... Sometimes I love how words sound together - or I get one phrase I love and I'll build something around that. Other times inspiration doesn't come at all for awhile and I really try not to push too hard, even tho writing is a muscle you need to keep exercised. 



How do you take care of your creativity and support your growth?
I journal so much. I love to fill up blank books. Seeing live music is really inspiring to me. I also went to film school and love TV and movies as a storytelling medium. I love going to the movies and watching at home. Although it is a luxury I often cannot afford, travel is really inspiring to me. Luckily I've been on tour a little this year which has gotten me out to new places. While tour can be really taxing, I feel really grateful to get to do it.



Something you know deeply to be true:
No matter what our fears and differences are: none of us are really all that different from each other.



If your music had a physical form, a color, or a movement- what shape would it take/make?
Whoah rad! I've actually thought about this one. It would be a thick, wavy, figure 8 shape. One end of it would be black and midnight blue and as you went to the other end it would fade to a really sunny pink and orange. The whole gradient would be filled with tiny stars that glitter. 





Thanks Jo! Listen to more of Johanna's music here. 

Photos by Marielle V Chua

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