Interview: 5 minutes with Johny Dar
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, artist, designer and musician Johny Dar has a passion for originality and it’s evident in every aspect of his work, from paintings to light installations, prints, couture, illustration, sportswear and music. Dar has presented runway collections at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, and New York Fashion Week, and 2017 saw him devote his runway shows to the Jeans For Refugees initiative, showcasing hand-painted celebrity-donated denims alongside his couture collection, to international acclaim. He has been featured in publications including Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, to name a few.
‘Gigi’ is the latest single and precursor to Dar’s upcoming album and live show Dardelica, co-produced by Dan Vinci (Faithless, Basement Jaxx, Snoop Dogg. Already well-known in fashion and design circles, Dar has collaborated with a slew of artists including Jessie J, Harry Styles, Sir Elton John, Bryan Adams, Tom Waits, Dannii Minogue, Victoria Beckham, Melanie C and Sam Smith, on a host of creative projects. He has recently turned his attention to music, and delivering a new sonic language that has been dubbed ‘alien-rap’ – an original, organic vocal expression merged with modern electronic production that delivers an audio experience like no other.
We caught up with Johny Dar on alien technology and his upcoming project, Dardelica:
(Be sure to stream Johny Dar’s latest single ‘Gigi’ below!)
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
Because that’s what I was born to do!
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
Does your material feature any collaborations?
So far, we’ve been focused on establishing the signature Dardelica sound and bringing it through with just the two of us on the creative side of things. But the collaborations are coming!
What’s on your current playlist?
Whatever the DJ plays – I am busy at the moment and need to keep my ears virgin to Dardelica – it’s like I need to forget everything I have heard so I can produce the next generation of music.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
I want to hear the sound echoing off their bodies like speakers – it’s intimate.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
“Alien-rap” is a new sonic language that I have developed over the past few years. How I do it is hard to explain… it’s an alien technology and I haven’t yet translated it in words for human ears! My main technique is to swallow the sound instead of putting it out and let it echo inside me… it resonates inside the body at frequencies that elevates the listeners experience and empowers them to move in ways they have never moved before. I am not trained classically – my voice came to me when visiting different tribes on different cultures around the world. Otherwise, in the studio, we experiment with different ideas sometimes and when it feels right you know that’s the way to go. It’s very much a case of what gives us the right feeling. There is a natural element to it – the average BPM of a Dardelica track is 120, which is also the average resting heartbeat, so in many ways it is meant to feel like it’s bringing you home, home to the stars 😉
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
We set the intention and then go with the flow. I have a great connection with Dan. The alchemy is always what I look for first in a project – when that is there, the rest just comes naturally.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
I am a big fan of Michael Jackson – apparently I wanted to be a singer way early in life, and I guess MJ convinced me. And that visual of him on stage never left me.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
Any emerging artists on your radar?
Yes, I always have my eyes open for suitable collaboration partners – singers, performers, visual artists – people that could join the Dardelica team. The live show is going to be big, so there will be a lot more of us in the picture, very soon. It needs to be a team that have the right chemistry together to create an experience unlike any other, that will inspire people all over the world, so I’m quite picky who I work with, but when it’s right I know it.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Life. Wherever I see a gap in an industry, something missing – that’s when I am inspired to fill it. I like to capture stories that are untold and bring them to life.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
That would be a question for Dan! My part is very much the organic sound, and the vision for the next song. He is the one that has the technical knowledge to realise that vision, so you would have to check with him about that part!
Any side projects you’re working on?
Many projects! Art, fashion, body art projects – new books in the DAR the BOOK series: DAR the BOOK 4 and Darya, which is my first story in words. I’m also working on a Hollywood movie and musical inspired by the story of Darya. So yes, there are quite a few projects that I am working on all at the same time.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
Since I entered the industry? I guess just coming to understand the nature of the game, but it’s not so different to the other industries at the end of the day. What I am interested in are the ideas that are bigger than the industries.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
The Dardelica live show, two more singles, some epic remixes and collaborations, and the Dardelica album. That’s the music. Then there’s the release of DAR the BOOK 4 and DARYA, and some other books including my new colouring book series, as well as another project involving celebrities and body art that are still confidential at this stage. And art exhibitions. It’s going to be an exciting 2018.
Order Johny Dar’s latest single ‘Gigi’ via iTunes
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