John Goraj
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John Goraj


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"John Goraj - Possible"

John Goraj is a great up-and-coming indie folk singer/songwriter originally from South Dakota now based out of LA who writes warm bluegrass-tinged folk songs that are melodic, emotive and beautifully unique. On his debut Possible, Goraj’s scratchy tenor evokes a sense of reflection, sorrow and thoughtfulness over the course of 10 stunning songs – standout tracks include: “Kahlil Gibran from Lebanon”, “Burn” and “Baby Blue Cords”. From hushed, haunting tracks to catchy toe-tappers, “Possible” is a strong debut and I look forward to more releases from Goraj. – Written by JFelton
- Record Dept. Jason Felton

"John Goraj – A “Possible” Interview"

Well folks it is more than “possible”, it is in fact a post and interview with John Goraj. Some may not know of this northern prairie boy, but you just might need to.

I first heard John Goraj when fellow blogger Olivier over on You Crazy Dreamers put a post on him, and I took a listen and liked it. Then I kind of forgot due to my own blog and the numerous bands/artists that you find in your inbox, the day job, the wife and kids (two dogs) and I “re-found” Goraj a couple of weeks back. I am glad I did, the album is a great indie folk/singer songwriter release. Whether it is his soft but spirited delivery (wavering just at the right time), the numerous appearances of banjo (my favourite) or the honest stories throughout the album – it is plain and simple good. If you were not mistaken, you might find a bit of southern influence but I can’t place it – it isn’t “gothic” but more bluegrass-ish, all while he almost chants above the music. It can feel quite powerful at times, especially in headphones!

His album “Possible” came out last year and is available on iTunes and CD Baby. It is great collection of 10 tracks of melancholy gospel for me. Stand out tracks include “Kahlil Gibran from Lebanon”, “Burn” and “Baby Blue Cords”. But overall the album is very cohesive, so I think they may feel like feature tracks because of the backing of the album, who knows – I do tend to ramble! There is another full length album on the way in 2010 and hopefully we will be seeing an EP release this fall that will find it a digital only release on iTunes, etc.

Let’s not kid ourselves, folk music or singer songwriter can be fairly straight forward to those who don’t immerse themselves in it, so dive into an interview and a couple of tracks!

1. First off, introduce yourself and tell us “Who is John Goraj”?

My name is John Goraj. I’m from South Dakota. I’m a songwriter. I live in Los Angeles. I’m skinny. I’m obsessed with melodies. I love mango juice and American Spirit cigarettes. I could listen to Bon Iver’s album, “For Emma, Forever Ago” all day long. Sometimes I text myself things i need to remember. I worked on a monastery in rural Oregon picking fruit right after I graduated high school. My mom taught me how to sing. I think the cello is the most gorgeous sounding instrument created.

2. The big move, why move from the heartland to the big city?

I’m not sure exactly why I moved to LA, I just knew that I couldn’t be in Sioux Falls anymore. Not because I don’t like it there, because I love South Dakota and miss it a lot. There are many talented musicians and songwriters there and I’m blessed to call them friends. It was just time for me to leave. I had done everything I needed to do there and I felt strongly that I needed to go somewhere else and share my music with new people and that place just happened to be California.

3. What were your influences for “Possible”, and how did they manifest themselves on the album?

“Possible” was recorded in Sioux Falls over a pretty long amount of time, almost two years. Mostly, because the studio we recorded in was in my friend’s dad office building so we couldn’t get much done during business hours because people were working. The songs equally span a long period of time, some of them were several years old by the time they were released. Some of them were written when I was going to college in Bozeman, Montana. Some of them were written in my house in Sioux Falls and others like “Kahlil Gibran” was written and added in right of the end of the recording sessions

Since the songs cover so many years of my life, it was hard to figure out what the fuck these songs were even about? So I had to dig a little, to find out what I should call it I ended up calling it, “Possible” because of the song “Possible,” which is mostly about my relationship to God or a higher essence that I was feeling very profoundly at the time. Its hard to explain, but the general theme of the song and the album, are the feelings of shame, pain and sorrow being totally transcended by grace. But those feelings never disappear. Also, the song expresses the possibility of good when everything seems destitute and pointless. More simply, the “possible” idea meant for me that it was actually possible that I could actually be a full-time musician someday and make albums for the rest of my life-a dream I’m still navigating.

As far as influences on “Possible,” I’m really bad at this question, because my answer probably won’t make much sense. But vocally, I’m very influenced by the voices of Shannon Hoon, Jeremy Enigk and Van Morrison. I love going all over the place with scales when I’m singing and I love crazy long notes. I won’t exhaust you with an inexhaustible list of songwriters I love, but right now, I can’t stop listening to the newest Weepies album, Hideaway- pure dream pop goodness with vulnerable and intelligent lyrics. The melodies fucking kill me! So good!

4. What is upcoming, new music, tours, etc?

Right now I’m just writing new music and reminding myself how to play all the new stuff I wrote on piano last winter and booking shows in LA. I probably wont be on tour until I have some money to go because I’m totally poor right now!

5. What do you find is the hardest thing about “the music business” – inspiration, recording, promotion, traveling?

The shittiest thing about the music business is that there’s a lot of selfish, egotistical people in the music business, that don’t really know what it’s like to need music so much that you can hardly stand it! There’s a lot of people in the industry that don’t give a shot about music, but care a lot about making money. But, I believe there are also a lot of people who work very hard to make sure that beautiful, passionate music that we all need to hear is heard.

Thanks again to John for agreeing to become part of the Slowcoustic family!

Don’t forget to visit John on MySpace and then head to iTunes or CD Baby to pick up a copy of “Possible”!

~Smansmith - Slowcoustic

"Review:John Goraj"

As promised, here is the second post for today and I have to apologize to all readers of CFM for not posting anything the last two days. But I hope with John Goraj (born in Sioux Falls/South Dakota, but now living in Los Angeles/California) I can bring you some really lovely music for the beginning of the week. I think it quite possible that you have heard about him, because back in 2008, when Possible, the album I’m going to write about, was released, both You Crazy Dreamers and Slowcoustic featured John’s music. So, why would I do a review just now? The answer is simple: because John contacted me and I really don’t have the heart for not supporting great acoustic folk music if I can lay my hands on it.

This being said, I hope you already crave Possible. And doing so is just natural because the album got a fascinating aura of honesty to it. Acoustic guitar and vocals are the main elements of all the tracks, which are supported, as often in folk music, by banjo and cello (if I’m not mistaken here). You see, the cornerstones for a good listening experience are placed. But does John Goraj achieve to get the right filling? Stupid question, of course he does and he mainly uses two strategies. The first is characterized by reducing the tracks to their core to get to the heart of music. This reduction can be heard in the awesome Across Your Mountain or the album opener Woven. Both tracks stand out because you think that you are really near to the music and the musician. This closeness opens the door to really feel with the artist and to get near him, but it also keeps away, at least a bit, the possibilities of writing more complex songs with more instruments involved.

That brings me to the second strategy I spoke about and that is quite the opposite of the applied reduction, for it is replaced by harmonies between different instruments which are layered on top of each other. This implying leads to very different songs clearly distinct from the ones mentioned above. The most outstanding example is the title track, because it combines acoustic guitar, banjo, cello and different singing styles to one complex example of great songwriting. Where the first strategy leads to more intimate songs, the second strategy leads to more intensive ones. And this doesn’t mean that the more intimate ones aren’t intensive or vice versa – they just have a different focus.

So John Goraj recorded an acoustic folk album that meanders between those two shores without losing the fluency at any moment. Along the way questions are asked such as: why we are, why do we love and what is love? Every human being is lost in a river, everything moves around him, has to move, but, and that seems to be the question above all others, how and where should we adhere, what is the secret to swim in this river and not only get flushed away? So much for integrating metaphors into my reviews, but I think the picture describes the album quite appropriate. And if you are willing to ask these questions for yourself, don’t hesitate and listen to what John Goraj is saying and thinking. Feel with him and let him inspire you.

Honestly, if you have some money left and you want to fill one open spot in your music collection, don’t hesitate and head over to and buy your personal copy (physical copies as well as MP3s are available). For more free streaming tracks and possible updates on forthcoming releases visit John’s MySpace. To say it briefly: this is fine folk for fine folks. - Common Folk Meadow



One More Winter 2010



The music of John Goraj is difficult to pinpoint. A short story might suffice. A 16-year old boy in the cold, beautiful , and isolated midewstern state of South Dakota starts writing complex
fingerpicked guitar parts in his room, singing over them with a unmistakably emotional tenor voice. Finsihes hight school, does volunteer work in on a Catholic monastery in Rural Oregon, works
at a Car-wash in Boise, Idaho, Moves to Montana and Florida to go to college, drops out, and then returns to his hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota to begin work on his debut album, "Possible."
What develops over a two year time span is an intrinsic musical work ranging from etheral folk, lush lullabies, indie bluegrass pop, and soulful, gut-wretching ballads filled guitars, banjo, cello

Fast forward a few years later.

Last March, Goraj had the honor of opening up for the folk veteran and fellow midwesterner, Mason Jennings. Five of the songs from Possible were recently featured in a poignant documentary about
the recent economic crisis called Jobs For Rent by LA filmmaker Michele Paster.

His new single "One More Winter" was just released in July by Yer Bird Records for the compilation, "Folk Music for What lies Ahead."

Here a couple of things the press has been saying about him...

“Possible” came out last year and is available on iTunes and CD Baby. It is great collection of 10 tracks of melancholy gospel for me.
Stand out tracks include “Kahlil Gibran from Lebanon”, “Burn” and “Baby Blue Cords”. - sandy smith,

"On his debut Possible, Goraj’s scratchy tenor evokes a sense of reflection, sorrow and thoughtfulness over the course of 10 stunning songs."- Jason Felton, Record Dept.

Goraj now lives in La crescenta, California and is working on a new album in his home studio which is slated to be released in Spring 2011.