Dirty Dozen: Jillette Johnson

Nashville-based singer/songwriter/pianist Jillette Johnson has just released her sophomore album “All I Ever See In You Is Me” on Rounder Records. Produced by Dave Cobb (the Grammy Award winner known for his work with Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton), All I Ever See in You Is Me offers up sparsely orchestrated songs centring on Johnson’s spirited piano work and vocal command.

Can you tell us about yourself?  Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the last few years?
I was born outside of San Francisco, CA, but I moved to upstate New York when I was 9, and lived in New York until two years ago. Over the last few years I’ve been writing songs. Tons of songs. And I’ve been touring around the states. And I moved from NYC to Los Angeles to Nashville. And I made this record!

How would you describe your music?
Emotionally available, cinematic, and thoughtful.

Can you tell us a little about your influences?
I grew up listening to Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and Randy Newman, amongst other great songwriters that started making music long before I was born. My influences haven’t changed much along the way.

What are you currently promoting?  
My new album, All I Ever See in You is Me, is a raw and vulnerable window into my inner monologue. I decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to make a record that didn’t sound like the radio, that could be subtle and challenging, and that was analogous to the way that I sound live. I didn’t want it to be trendy, or shiny. Just real, raw, and beautiful, warts and all. That’s why I’m so happy I got to work with Dave Cobb, and why I’m so proud of what we made. He’s a master at producing real live music, and I I think we accomplished exactly what we set out to do.

Have you got a particular song you’ve done you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
If someone asked me to play them a song that sounded the most like me, I think it would be Bunny. That’s why it’s first on the album.

What are you currently listening to?
Bill Wither’s “‘Justments,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn” Aimee Mann’s “Mental Illness” and Nils Frahm’s “Screws”

And your favorite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
“Tapestry” by Carole King

What are your hopes for your future career?
That it lasts for a long time and takes me on all kinds of wild, unpredictable adventures.

If money were no object what would be your dream project?
Music project? I guess I’d hire a whole symphony and ask Jon Brion to produce a triple album.

What is the best thing about being a musician?
No matter what happens, no matter how low or high you feel, there’s always somewhere to put it and something that you can make out of all that emotion.

And the worst?
It’s unstable and soul-crushing. And you never stop feeling insecure.

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?  
I can’t wait to jump over the pond and play some damn music for you guys! It’s been my dream to tour the U.K. I’ve heard you make all us Americans feel really glad to be playing shows, and that it’s hard to come home and play in The States afterwards because you make us feel so appreciated.

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show – The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session – playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

Leave a comment..