Featured: Eddie Johnston

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Wellington-based musician Eddie Johnston is on the rise. His first official spot(s) on the bill at Camp A Low Hum 2014, after years of renegading, belatedly marks his maturity from ‘that kid who makes amazing music’ to a fully fledged profession quality DJ, producer and songwriter.

At 12 years old, Johnston’s project Shipwreck (later renamed Lontalius) opened an A Low Hum all ages Die! Die! Die! show with a two-song, casio drum-backed, guitar set. The songs were written merely days earlier and still hold their own against any other lo-fi indie track. They come up now and again in Lontalius live sets too. James Stutely (of Carb on Carb, Mammal Airlines and Body 125) recorded the songs and they were released through Papaiti records as the Singing You To Shipwreck EP, getting props from Jane Yee’s Stuff blog after a Twitter discussion about caterpillars. Before you ask how a 12-year-old musician can make songs as mature as this, Johnston had been honing his songwriting and production skills making electronic music with Steven Marr (of Doprah and Ipswich) online. It should come as no surprise that two of the most exciting young acts in New Zealand have collaborated for years. Growing up with technology, and with access to the Internet’s pool of talent from around the world, has given young people an early start on music, especially on electronic music production. It’s why many of the most exciting electronic artists in New Zealand right now are under 21. Over the years, Johnston has worked hard to become a bedroom production force to be reckoned with.

2013 was undeniably Eddie Johnston’s most prolific year yet. He released three EP’s and countless covers and remixes, including high profile acts Johnston has grown up idolising (Tommy Ill and The Phoenix Foundation). He contributed tracks to KCB mixtapes and took over Wellington’s music community, seemingly gaining respect and love from all involved. After releasing his EP The Same early last year, he turned his focus primarily onto electronic music for the next six months, resulting in the phenomenal Race Banyon EP What Dreams Are Made Of. ‘Only Sixteen’, the nine-minute single from it, blew up online and Johnston’s star grew. The EP release packed out the Puppies side room, and went down as one of the gig highlights of the year for those that attended. During the following couple of months, Johnston continually packed out Puppies, Betties, and other smaller venues, and was the opening act of choice for every promoter with any sense, either as a Race Banyon live set or as one of the best DJs in the city. Then at the peak of the Race Banyon hype, Johnston dropped another Lontalius EP The World Will Never Know About Us; a keyboard driven release of 1-2 minute tracks designed to be listened to on repeat. The EP hit the middle ground between the detailed and hard-hitting production of Race Banyon, and the sad lo-fi Lontalius.

Wellington hasn’t been the only place to experience Johnston fever. If you have stumbled across the internet in the past year, you may have also caught Johnston on Twitter, Tumblr, Soundcloud or the Talking about Drake [[FanCLUB]] page on Facebook. He’s a prolific and interesting poster. You may have heard Race Banyon’s ‘Only Sixteen’ being shared around any of the above, or seen a Race Banyon remix of your favourite band, or read someone not getting how amazing Lontalius’ ‘For The Ideas’ is on a review panel. You may have seen him tweet about Justin Bieber, or his new OVO merchandise. You may have seen him post a new Nicki Minaj cover, and realised that every song ever written, even the biggest bangers, can be stripped back to a depressing Casiotone mumble.

Now 16-years-old, 2014 is looking just as big, if not bigger, for Eddie. Not long after The World Will Never Know Us, the new Race Banyon produced Jon Lemmon single ‘Wonder’ was released. Lemmon and Johnston had been quietly collaborating all year, and also managed to play a handful of DJ sets. ‘Wonder’ has Johnston’s production written all over it, and has shown they can utilise their DJing and remixing talents in original songs as well. If Jon Lemmon’s set at the recent Square Wave Festival is anything to go by, the rest of the upcoming EP should be just as great. This year Eddie has his eyes set on a European tour and even more collaborations. His dream of never having to work a proper job and being able to survive off music straight out of high school, might just come true.

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