Johnny Marnell
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Johnny Marnell

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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Johnny Marnell @ Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2)

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Johnny Marnell @ Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2)

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Johnny Marnell @ CMJ 2010 @ Rockwood Music Hall

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA



Platinum Hit: Exclusive Interview with Johnny Marnell
Posted on 07/19/2011 by Gina in Platinum Hit and Cast Interviews

by Gina Scarpa

It was an unfortunate pairing on Platinum Hit, when Johnny and Nick were forced a song to write together for Gavin Degraw. Nick was moody and hardly contributed but he wasn't going home without a fight. Managing to convince the judges that he had absolutely nothing to do with the song and was shut out of the writing session, it was Johnny instead who got eliminated from the competition. Today, we talked to Johnny in an exclusive interview about his experiences on Platinum Hit.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: What were you doing musically before Platinum Hit?
A. Johnny: I've been living in New York now for a bit, like six years. I play a lot of shows in and around New York, at different venues. I'm constantly writing and I love cowriting. I was getting into that a lot more before the show, which is good, obviously. I toured with Ingrid Michaelson. She's amazing. She deserves all the success she's gotten. By day, I'm a computer dork.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Did you have any reservations about being on a reality competition?
A. Johnny: Oh hell yeah! My good friend Irina forwarded me an email message. She said, "You have to do this. You'll be great." I was like, "Whatever, I might as well try it out." Me and my cousin went to the open call in New York. I've never done a reality tv audition and I'm sort of glad I did. I met a best friend in line and he plays in my band now. There was a lot of serendipity now with the whole process. I met a best friend on the show, through Brian Judah. As a viewer, I love reality tv! I love Jersey Shore and love the Bravo competition shows. I like Bravo reality because it's legit. People do good work after it. Nowadays, the record industry kinda sucks. People aren't interested in developing artists. You need a platform, a product, and proof. Television is not the be all and end all. You still have to prove credibility but it was an incredible opportunity.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: I actually thought you were funny in the way you were talking about and dealing with Nick on this week's episode. Kara said that you showed the ugliest side of yourself, though. What is your response to that?
A. Johnny: It's unfortunate the way it went down. I would've loved to go out with anyone else in that cast, someone with a mutual respect. It was just unfortunate and I honestly did my best. I tried to work with Nick and unfortunately, there's not enough time to air everything. It's so funny the idea of sabotage. Me as a saboteur blew my mind. In my mind, it was the exact opposite. I forced Nick to write a bridge and they hated it. They obvoiusly liked my hook a little bit. It was frustrating to me. Not only did Nick not contribute but he tried to take away. I tried to be the nice guy that I am, and I was, but I wasn't getting anywhere. I stood up for myself and it's really tough to watch and make sense of it all. I think we've said enough about each other, that episode alone, and viewers can decide whose side they're on.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Was it weird watching your showmance, or romance, play out with Jes on national television?
A. Johnny: It was totally weird! Melissa was hilarious in her interviews talking about us, saying we were frauds. I would never concoct something like that. Jes and I really like each other and it was a nice thing to have, someone to lean your head on their shoulder at the end of grueling days. We realize every time we were a foot from each other, cameras would swoop in. We would never create something like that out of nothing. Jes and I crack each other up and that's so important to any relationship. She's so goofy and cool. I worry that, to some people, it came off as performing. I'm glad a lot of people enjoyed watching that because we really enjoyed each other.

Q. Gina, RealityWanted: What are you up to now and what's next for you?
A. Johnny: Brian and I have been writing a lot and Scotty, too. That's definitely the best thing I take from the show is the people I met in and around it. It's just priceless. You get that exposure on tv which is great but the relationships are the real gems of the whole process. I learned so much from my peers and I'm really thankful for that and I'm trying to keep this momentum going. I'm back and forth between L.A. in New York. I've got a show in New York coming up. I'm proud that I have a gig regularly. I'm doing a lot of shows and organizing a tour. Like I said, I'm writing a lot with Brian and I'm writing and recording a new album that'll be out early next year. There's a lot coming from me. People can keep up with me on my website,

Platinum Hit airs Fridays at 8/7c on Bravo.


Kbow12000 18 hours ago
Nice to see a positive review go up about someone with this show. i was/am a Johnny fan and Most of all a Platinum Hit fan. The show is awesome- i hope it is around for more than 1 season and I hope Johnny gets his deserved platinum hit. There are a lot of talented artist on that show that deserve it! Thanks Gina for the good interview. - Reality Wanted

Exclusive Interview with Musician Johnny Marnell of Platinum Hit

Joanna Fantozzi

Marnell chats about romance, reality tv, and his passion for music

Johnny Marnell is, by day, a computer programmer, and, by night, a talented up and coming singer/songwriter. He is well-known for his role as a contestant on Bravo’s Platinum Hit, and his smooth, pop-folk singing style draws crowds at frequent New York performances. recently sat down to talk with Johnny about Platinum Hit, and what’s next for his music career.

TCC: What is it like to be a contestant on Platinum Hit?

Johnny: It was an amazing experience; it was all emotions at once: stress, elation, fun, fear, literally everything. First thing, they take your cell phone and your computer away. You are off the grid; all you know is the people you are competing with and the next challenge. The contestants are your enemy in a way, but living together you bond quickly-at least for me. …there are parts of [being on the show] that you can never really prepare for, like the really early mornings and really late nights; it was almost like boot camp!

TCC: What for you was the most challenging or difficult part of being on the show?

Johnny: I guess it was a blessing and a curse at the same time. The hardest part was creating on demand and always having to be “on.” It was basically do great, or go home, and it’s not like that in real life. It was also the cool part, because our days were filled with music…this is all you were doing; it was kind of like, “holy sh*t, I just wrote that song in four hours.” Another hard part was, in real life when you co-write, you are on the same team, but [on Platinum Hit] you have to be conscious of the fact that your teammate is also your opponent.

TCC: How much of the interpersonal relationships on the show are exaggerated and how much is the truth?

Johnny: The nature of reality TV is that everything is exaggerated . Every scene you see on TV-there’s a great chance that it is not true to life. It’s incredible how crazy the editing really is; we said everything we said, but the context is priceless….I’m okay with how I came off, even though there were a few “Johnny-is-freaking-out moments”, most of the time it was because of something small or completely unrelated. As for [my relationship with Jes] I have gotten a lot of “is it staged” or “is it real” stuff, and I’m sick of that. I would never fake something for the sake of the show….what we were was real-as real as it could be under those circumstances-we liked each other, and we still do …a lot of times it looks like we were hamming it up for the camera, but people need to realize it’s not a documentary, it’s a reality TV show.

TCC: Which song that you wrote or co-wrote on the show are you most proud of?

Johnny: Hands down, episode three’s “Going Where I Need To Be.” It was a magical experience-it’s a bummer because one of the problems is it’s not a dress or a food dish we have to present-they have to show the whole song even though it takes up so much time. With the focus on drama and “showmance,” you miss out on much of what happens with the challenges. It’s hands-down one of the best songs I’ve ever written, and I think Brian and Scotty [my co-writers] agree. It was so much fun; we worked well together, and we built on each other until we got the song to be the best it could be. The three of us bonded and we still write songs together.

TCC: How do you go from being a computer programmer to a singer and a contestant on a songwriting competition show?

Johnny: I’m definitely a musician at heart, but I love computers-I’m a nerdy Math guy. It’s a day job, but it’s a good day job. Being a computer programmer is challenging, but after the everyday 9-5 gig, that’s when your real work begins. In terms of doing anything besides music-this is rewarding and it’s a good pay check, but my true love is music. I want to write songs and play my music for a living. None of us [on the show] care much about being rich or famous; we just want to pay the bills doing what we love. When I opened on the Ingrid Michaelson “Everybody” tour, it was incredible. There were all these people there that loved my music, and that was just amazing.

TCC: Who are your musical influences and who do you most admire in the music world?

Johnny: My biggest influence and favorite band is Steely Dan. My dad played their records a lot when I was growing up…I realized later on that they were really cool-also I like Fleetwood Mac, and I’m big into Michael Jackson. He was an incredible force and an amazing performer. As a songwriter, your job is to be influenced by what’s trendy, so I listen to a lot of Top 40. I’m not above any kind of music or any kind of band; you can learn something from anyone….especially The Beatles. You can learn everything about songwriting from listening to them.

TCC:What is your favorite genre of music to write for and listen to, and why?

Johnny: Well, there’s what I primarily do, which is definitely pop with some soul/funk, and folk…Growing up with Steely Dan, I really like the funk stuff, which I think makes me unique from someone like Jack Johnson, who people are always comparing me to….I really like writing straight-up pop-it’s a lot of fun to write….Muse is definitely one of my favorite bands to listen to; they’re such great musicians and they write all of their own stuff too.

TCC: What is the songwriting process like for you; what does it entail?

Johnny: Whoever I am writing with at the moment, lately it’s been Brian, Scotty and I, we usually start brainstorming and thinking about who we can write for. We think about what a certain artist sounds like now, and where they can go with your sound. Also, someone can come into the room with a certain concept and we can start from there, or we can start from absolutely nothing-make a rudimentary track, or just pick up an instrument and see what happens. With songwriters, we are generally great with coming up with the notes and chords, but it’s the lyrics that take the most time…I feel like I’ve really grown in that department. It’s definitely the hardest piece of the puzzle.

TCC:Your bio mentions that you come from a musical family. To what extent did they influence your love of music?

Johnny:It’s great that you should ask that because when you asked for my musical influences, I immediately thought of my family-they’re an even bigger influence than any band I can name. I have a big family, and I love it. A lot of my aunts and uncles sing and play instruments-my grandfather started it all when he was a bugle boy in the armed forces. My dad is a great guitarist….I am always around music; it’s in my DNA. I’m lucky that I come from such a big, loud, loving family and we’re always making music. They never pushed it on me though; I saw my dad playing guitar so I said, that’s what I want to do with my life. I started taking guitar lessons, and I got into songwriting when I was a little older…. We all grew up on the same street in Kingston, and every 4th of July, we have a parade down Pine Street, with everyone playing music, and Poppy playing his bugle.

TCC:What are you working on right now, individual songs, or writing for other artists?

JohnnyI’m actually doing both. I love song writing, and I would be very happy just doing that. I used to think I didn’t want anyone else to sing my song, but that’s silly; it’s a beautiful thing, even if you’re not singing the song. I’m also writing for myself. I’m working on a new album right now that will be coming out in the fall. I have an album out on Itunes right now called Solo…my next album will be full studio.

TCC:Are you performing anywhere this summer?

Johnny:I play in and around New York all the time. I am booking a show soon, but it’s not definite yet. I will be doing shows in New York and LA. I would definitely love to do a tour-now’s the time to do that because of the popularity of the show.

Check out Johnny’s website or listen to his latest singles here. Remember to watch Platinum Hit, which airs every Friday night at 8 pm EDT. - The Celebrity Cafe


Johnny Marnell -- "Solo" -- LP
1. Let Me Show You
2. Everyday Now
3. Untouchable Goods
4. Tonight I'll Be Yours
5. Natural Way
6. You Should've Known
7. Letting the Light Shine Down
8. Made to Fly
9. The Girl That I May Never Meet
10. This Mess I Made
11. She Needs Time



Currently, you can watch Johnny Marnell this summer on season one of Bravo TV's new songwriter competition show "Platinum Hit," Fridays at 8/7c. His winning song from Episode 3 "Going Where I Need to Be" is already the most popular of the entire show.

Platinum Hit studio release:
Platinum Hit live performance:
Platinum Hit site:

Born and raised in Kingston, NY, singer/songwriter Johnny Marnell currently hails from Brooklyn. He has toured with Ingrid Michaelson on the "Everybody" Tour, and released his debut "Solo" LP, digitally available everywhere. Johnny has showcased at SXSW and CMJ, along with placing in the finals of the Williamsburg Live Songwriter Competition.

He and his band continue to sell out venues with his authentic, not-your-average-white-boy brand of head-nodding pop throughout Manhattan proper and the surrounding states. Johnny Marnell has been performing solo at prestigious venues like Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom, the 9:30 Club, Theater of the Living Arts, Joe's Pub, and Chapel Hill's Cat's Cradle up and down the East Coast. As a songwriter, Marnell's tunes have won awards with and garnered attention from The Disney Channel, A&R for Jessie James (Mercury Records), Cherry Lane Publishing, Glassnote, and the Association of Independent Music Publishers.