You might remember Jillette Johnson from our July issue just after the release of her debut album Water in a Whale. This lovely lady was recently in town and I was able to chat with her before her concert in Seattle with Wakey!Wakey!. If you haven’t already, first off, what the hell are you waiting for?, secondly, go check out this fantastic album.
Lemonade Magazine: Thanks so much for sitting down with Lemonade again!
Jillette Johnson: Yeah, of course, it’s my pleasure.
LM: Alright, so “Water in a Whale” has been out for about 9 months now…
JJ: Oh god, is that true? That’s terrifying *laughs*
LM: How have things changed for you since the album release?
JJ: I’ve been on the road pretty solidly. We’ve gotten a lot of really exciting recognition from the record. I’ve been on TV a few times playing some of the songs off of it. It’s definitely grown my world, for sure.
LM: That’s awesome. Speaking of songs from the album, on your website, you’re asking fans to map their True North, can you explain that a bit further?
JJ: That’s a way to try to connect the audience to the concept of where do you go to find home. That song is a song I wrote about going home but in more of a metaphorical sense because my home is kind of around the country and, hopefully soon, around the world. SO it’s a way to extend the invitation for other people to emotionally connect with that idea.
LM: So would you say that you have a “true north” right now?
JJ: Yeah, it’s essentially just that compass you wake up to every morning that grounds you. My life is pretty chaotic, so it’s important for me to take some breaths and remind myself what my focus is and what the big picture is. It helps keep me happy and keep myself in check.
LM: Absolutely. So you’re a few weeks into your tour with Wakey!Wakey! how has it been going?
JJ: It’s been great! It’s been a really fun tour. Wakey!Wakey! are such an awesome band to be on tour with. Mike Grubbs [lead singer of Wakey!Wakey!] is a really really talented guy and so welcoming to me on the tour. It’s a nice, lovely symbiotic relationship.
JJ: I was really excited to get on the road with this particular group of guys because we are from similar circles in Brooklyn. I wasn’t really, previously, friends with any of them except for Mike Grubbs. I knew that I would really hit it off well with these guys because we all had really dear friends of friends. So I was looking forward to extrapolating on my musician family and that’s really happened.
LM: That’s always nice. Speaking of touring, you recently were at SXSW, I’m glad to see you’re safe! How was playing that festival?
JJ: Yeah, unfortunately that was a pretty tragic SXSW. It was a great experience it, this was my fourth SXSW so I knew what I was getting myself into. It’s a nuts festival because 350k people this year came into a town that doesn’t necessarily have the bones to carry that weight so there’s a lot of craziness. I’m from New York, so I’m used to big crowds, but this was a little over the top. The shows went really well and I got to see some people that I haven’t gotten to see in a while. So it was a cool experience.
LM: Sounds like a great time. So, if you were on your dream tour, who would you be with and where would you go?
JJ: I would go all over the world. I haven’t done a world tour. I love touring throughout the US and I feel like I’ve done it pretty extensively now and I’m excited to open that up. Australia is definitely a dream and I know I’m going to make I there soon, so I can’t wait. As far as tour partners go, I have a long list of people that I would love to be on tour with, Radiohead being one of them. It’s hard to say, really, what a dream tour is because it also has to do with your human connection to who you’re on tour with and you don’t really know what that’s like until you’re there.
LM: That makes total sense. Here’s hoping you get to Australia soon! Alright, so this concert is now going to be my fifth concert ever. What was your first concert ever?
JJ: My first concert with my own music, I was 12. I started playing regularly at a place called The Sidewalk Café in New York City. In terms of going to a concert, my first was Reba McIntyre.
LM: Oh wow, that’s awesome! Mine was just recently with Imagine Dragons down in Portland.
JJ: So how many have you gone to since you first concert?
LM: Three or four. Which puts you at number 5! The final concert on one hand *laughs*
JJ: That’s so awesome.
LM: We at Lemonade are so excited to see what is in store for you. What can we expect to see and hear from you in the future?
JJ: I’m going to stay on the road. I’m mid-album cycle right now. We just did a music video for Torpedo which is going to be released soon and we’ll be going to radio with Torpedo. I’ll probably do some more TV appearances. I was on Rachel Ray and VH1 this fall so we’re going to put more of that fuel into the fire. Eventually, I’m going to record some more music.
LM: How were the TV experiences for you, being on Rachel Ray and VH1?
JJ: It was really fun. It wasn’t very overwhelming. We did Rachel Ray first and then VH1 and I had done a lot of local TV morning shows in the past. It’s been interesting to watch back and see how I’m learning how to do it. There are really slight nuances that you don’t think about when you’re doing it; it’s really different than playing a live show. It’s been a really great learning experience for me and I’m excited for the next round of them to see, hopefully, that I’m getting better at it *laughs*
LM: Like I said, we’re all really excited to see it all come to fruition! I do have one more question for you, because we are Lemonade Magazine, we have to ask, what is your favorite type of lemonade?
JJ: Oh, um…that’s a good question! Fresh squeezed lemonade. My mother grew up on a lemon grove in Southern California. When my grandparents were still alive and living in that house, we would go out and pick lemons and my grandma would make us fresh lemonade.
LM: Oh wow, that’s awesome. Well thank you so much, again, for sitting down with us! It’s been great chatting with you and best of luck in the future from the Lemonade family!
JJ: Of course! Thanks for having me!
You can learn more about Jillette Johnson and catch her on tour at www.jillettejohnson.com