[ARTIST PROFILE] Music holds a place in Johnson’s heart


Flickr CC: Eunbyul Sabrina Lee

Music resonates with senior Sawyer Johnson. ““Making music brings a lot of joy to me, being able to listen to a song and know that I created it,” Johnson said.

Senior Sawyer Johnson was initially drawn to music through family exposure, but today, he enjoys composing his own music.

“I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. My Grandpa was in the National Lutheran Choir, so I’ve always had music in my blood and been drawn to singing. As far as writing music, that started around 7th grade and writing melodies came easily to me, so putting words to them felt like a natural next step,” Johnson said.

Putting words to them felt like a natural next step.

— Sawyer Johnson

Johnson is a multi-instrumentalist who has moved on past lessons into a personal growth stage, and he participates in the choir at SPA.

“I play guitar and piano. I’ve been playing piano since I was seven and I picked up guitar lessons when I was ten. I’ve stopped taking lessons in both now in exchange for my being able to lead my own growth,” Johnson said.

He appreciates both ends of the music spectrum through soft melodies in ballads and rhythmically intense hip-hop.

“There are a lot of different types of music that I enjoy, which depend on mood. For singing and writing, I enjoy soft pop ballads. But, I also really appreciate rap and hip-hop because of the complexities of the beats and the metaphors in the lyrics. I think they’re really impressive and that’s fun to listen to,” Johnson said.

There are a lot of different types of music that I enjoy, which depend on mood.

— Sawyer Johnson

Jam sessions are an important part of the creation process for Johnson. He sits at the piano for hours on end fixed.

“Usually the melody comes first for me, and I’ll find lyrics and chords that work with it. But, a lot of times I’ll go write a song by beginning with a chord progression and mumble ad-libs and jam out,” he said.

To Johnson, it is important that a song has a powerful meaning. He also enjoys using characters and story-driven narratives.

“I really enjoy Bob Dylan. I don’t think he has the best voice in the world, but his lyrics are so beautiful and powerful that it works. Recently my music hasn’t been focused on me. I enjoy telling stories and using characters within the songs. Right now I’m trying to make a concept album on sexual assault and build something with a powerful meaning rather than just love songs. I think writing songs with a meaning in mind can make it easier to write also,” he said.

For Johnson, music is something to share with others in order to bring joy to their lives.

Making music brings a lot of joy to me.

— Sawyer Johnson

“Making music brings a lot of joy to me, being able to listen to a song and know that I created it. Also, I know a lot of people in my family enjoy my music so it’s fun to see joy in their face and see my song stuck in their head.”

Johnson posts occasional singing videos on his Instagram @sawyer_johnson1 and hopes to find a high-quality microphone so he can get a YouTube account up and running sometime soon.

“I definitely want to pursue music in the future. I probably won’t major in it and make it my main focus because of how risky of a profession it is, so I’ll probably try to keep it going throughout my life as a hobby,” he said.