Bobby John is an award-winning Montreal based singer/songwriter signed to one of Quebec’s largest and most respected publishers; Bloc Notes Music. As an artist, he’s opened for acts such as Bon Jovi, The Trews, Sick Puppies and Bobby Bazini. His debut single, ‘Strong’, remained on the official Palmares Radio charts for 30 weeks with numerous chart positions including on Rythme FM; Quebec’s largest radio network. As a songwriter, he’s travelled across the country and in Europe writing with chart topping artists and is regularly writing for singers from Star Academie, La Voix (The Voice) and The Next Star. Recent cuts include the #1 single ‘Sortir de l’Ombre’ by Olivier Dion, and the official theme song to the PanAm games, ‘Together We Are One’ performed by platinum selling artist Serena Ryder which was included in a Cirque du Soleil performance and synced to a daily fireworks display during the games. Currently, Bobby John is in studio writing and working on his debut album while lining up to release his
01. How did you get started in music?
I had music around growing up but my first real glimpse of wanting to be a part of it was when I was at my cousin’s place when I must have been 11 or so. He’s an insanely talented, classically trained pianist and at the time, had an acoustic guitar that he messed around with. He started playing riffs from one of my favourite bands, Nirvana, and I lost my mind. He was patient enough to teach me the opening riff of ‘Come As You Are’. It wasn’t the tightest guitar playing but after a little bit, I was somewhat playing along to the song that we had looping in the background. It felt out of this world. It was as if someone just flicked on a switch that immediately got bolted into place. Music became all I talked about. Santa got me a guitar that Christmas and I haven’t put one down since.
02 . Where did your direction come from?
Musically, I followed what made me feel something along the way. I filtered out anyone negative or who had a ‘me, myself and I’ attitude, no matter how talented. I surrounded myself with artists and songwriters who I looked up to from a creative stand point, to work ethic and just general vibe.
03. Who were your major influences and inspirations?
I went through a bunch of phases. Started with Green Day, Offspring and Nirvana. Since I played guitar and was in a bunch of rock bands during high school, Google searches like ‘Best Guitar Solos of all Time’ got me into a metal phase with Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, In Flames and Dream Theatre. Started singing way more and it led me to artists like Matchbox 20, Rob Thomas, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Coldplay and Jason Mraz. When I got into songwriting, I got into loads of stuff Max Martin was involved with and just kept up to date with what’s going on with the charts and on radio. Last little while, big fan of everything from Mumford and Sons, SIA, Katy Perry, Fallout Boy, Ed Sheeran, Halsey, you name it. When I start drifting away from what I feel is solid songwriting, or nothing really hits me, I take a step back to appreciate some Michael Jackson as a
04. What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?
Among many things, music tends to be one of my biggest inspirations. Those songs that I have on repeat for days that when stripped down to just one instrument and a vocal, are just as phenomenally good or even better. Those singers that have my full attention from start to end of a song and make every line believable. Those moments live or on a record where a song has my jaw dropped from an insane performance or lyric. Seeing and hearing it done right with undeniable music at the core inspires me to pick up a guitar, write and sing more, aim to be better and not be afraid to put the hours in or start over from scratch if something isn’t good enough.
05. What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your shows?
Expect a high energy, bare boned show. It’s me and my acoustic guitar with the occasional loop station pedal. Nothing to hide behind. No pre recorded back tracks. Just the raw music. Might make mistakes cause I’ll probably try something new that wasn’t rehearsed. I’ll bring you into what the songs are about. By the end, you’ll know me as if we’ve been talking for hours.
06. How do you begin writing your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?
Since I’m signed to a publishing company (Bloc Notes Music publishing), I’ve been lucky enough to write with and for loads of artists. I’m probably writing anywhere from 50-100 songs a year. I don’t really have a set process anymore. I’ve written songs while driving, in the middle of watching a movie, in a room with 5 other writers and insanely tight deadlines, with a melody first, with a catch phrase first, with a riff, a bass line, with nothing but a beat I make by hitting random things in a room, even in dreams where I wake up from and hurry to grab my phone to mumble the little I remember of them while trying not to wake my wife up, you name it. As far as themes and subjects, I like to write about things that happened to either me or someone near me. They come from a real place. Be it a positive moment, or a feeling someone is experiencing. I try to get the song to tell that story and convey those feelings both musically and lyrically.
07. How has your music evolved since you first began playing?
When I started, I was a rock guy. I had my Gibson Les Paul guitar, a Mesa Boogie half stack that weighed a ton to carry around, had the amps blasting and was running around on stage getting people jumping and moving. Songwriting and ‘hooks’ were always important to me. Not much has changed outside of appreciating solid songwriting even more and finding a way to bring the same energy live alone with an acoustic guitar rather than a rock band and 2
vans of gear.
08. What has been your biggest challenge? How were you able to overcome this?
Getting into the groove of making a living with music was the biggest challenge. I was doing it part-time for so long. I saved up money from side jobs and when I had enough to live for a few months, I quit everything ‘non musical’ I was doing and focused strictly on music. Was a tad stressful especially the first year or two but it’s been continuously getting better with every year. I’m not making millions but I’m doing what I love everyday and paying my bills mostly on time, lol.
09. If you could pick any song, what would you like to cover most and why?
I’ve done quite a few covers on YouTube already but one I haven’t tackled yet would be ‘Messenger’ which I originally discovered through the Tea Party but was written by Daniel Lanois. I was a very musical / melody kind of guy but this was the first lyric from a song that caught my attention enough to make me read, re-read, picture a story and really feel something even if the music was taken away.
10. Where do you envisage being in five years time?
In studio writing / recording my third album while touring and promoting my second album both around here and abroad. I’m playing live and songwriting more than ever.
11. Who would you most like to record with?
If time travel were possible, Michael Jackson, otherwise, SIA. Amazing songwriter and incredible vocals.
12. What should we be expecting from you in the near future?
Working harder than ever with my production and often co-writer, Eric Collard, my publishing team Bloc Notes and amazing record label Mungo Park Records to bring the project to the next level. I feel lucky and thankful that they’ve had my back thus far. We are also thankful to have received local support in Montreal from radio and music video stations with my debut single that got us on the charts for over 30 weeks. I’m planning to continue building my story locally, releasing a new single and video while continuing to write and work on my album. The near future holds a lot more live shows both local and in surrounding areas, slowly making my way below the border as well. A few songwriting trips are in the works to hit up Toronto a bunch more and adding New York and Nashville this year to the list. Basically, non stop hustle with lots of music coming in the next while 🙂
Links to buy current single: