Zachary Scot Johnson
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Zachary Scot Johnson

Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States

Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
Band Folk Acoustic


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"Moment of Clarity", debut solo cd, December 2004.
"To Whom It May Concern", January 2008.
"Live at the Guild", Nov 2010



Singer-songwriter Zachary Scot Johnson captivates listeners with the lush emotional landscape of his acoustic fusion music. He blends blues and folk, alt-country and pop, and rock-n-roll, creating his signature sound, a distinctive musical flavor unlike any other. Yet it is absolutely accessible and connects with the heartstrings we all have inside us, waiting to be touched. But there’s nothing cloying or artificial here, only genuine emotions, real impact, heart-on-sleeve emotional honesty – all driven by remarkable talent.
Not an ounce of Johnson’s spirit escapes being funneled into his music. He holds himself to high standards. He has recognized in the world of music that the greats are all those who felt music with every fiber of their being and paid music back by putting every part of themselves into the creation of more music. "People whose entire body and being go into a performance inspire me," he says. "People who have the guys to go out there every night and lay it all out there for the audience to take – they influence me."
For his second cd, 'To Whom It May Concern', Zachary Scot Johnson had a mission--fill the sound. His stark, minimalist debut, 2004's 'Moment of Clarity' was recorded in the period of two long, intense days. The sessions resulted in the acclaimed 78+ minute disc and 6 additional songs not used (for obvious time restrictions). This time around, he says, "we focused on quality over quantity and have made the record I wanted to make". He recorded the new song set over the course of a full year, refusing to commit to deadlines or rush the process along. "There have been about 15 different release dates given during this one and as each of them came and went, I found myself tweaking and altering these songs. There are certainly pros and cons to having that kind of luxury--it can make a procrastinator out of anyone--but I relished the opportunity to do it my way", he says.
Turning in a record that is far more rich and textured than his debut pushed his new songs in a special way. "It's been almost four years since my last record, so I've been playing quite a few of these songs for a while now at shows and have gotten comfortable and familiar with them in their solo, acoustic arrangements. Filling them out with bass, drums, guitars, pianos, and everything else was really nice--some of these songs sound completely different on the cd than when I perform them live." Some of these songs ('I've Been Here', 'Rewind', 'One Good Reason Why' and 'Life With You' in particular) have developed into set list staples.
After the release of his first cd, Johnson, who was still a college student at the time, found himself balancing touring and writing with classes as well as countless musical and theatrical performances. Graduating in 2005 as a triple-major from Lawrence University in Music Performance, Theater Arts and Psychology, he has since managed to stay busy in both music and theater. He spent the fall of 2006 in his first national tour with a theatrical show. "It's the life I need--to be able to do both. I couldn't do one and not the other. I'm ok with taking a few months off of going out on the road for the sake of doing a good play and I'm also able at times to take breaks from theater to concentrate on music and touring. As long as I have a bit of balance, that's all I need". Having performed in over 50 theatrical shows, Johnson has a difficult time choosing favorites. “They’re all special for a different reason. Some are important because of the character or the play itself. Some bring about great friendships, relationships. I’m picky about what I do, so it has to strike a chord somewhere.”
Asked about his writing process, Johnson reveals he is not a strict writer in any sense. "When I first started writing music I did the absolute worst thing a writer can do--I forced it. I forced myself to write two songs a day for about six months. And all of it was redundant, trite. Of course, I was about sixteen at the time, so that may have been part of it, too," he says. "But now I find myself going through spurts. I'll write six good songs over the course of two weeks then won't write much of anything for months. And at this point in my life I'm really trying to stretch the content of my writing beyond the broken relationship songs. I write a lot of political and social stuff, too." When asked about the often dark and revealing nature of his writing, he laughs and nods. "I get asked this all the time. I know a lot of the stuff I write is a bit dark or sad. But the people I listen to--Shawn Colvin, Lucinda, Patty Griffin, Joni, Emmylou--most of them never write happy stuff, either. What's interesting about a happy song? Not much. You know, when you're happy, the last thing you want to do is write a song about it! You're having too much fun to write about it. When you're feeling something else, that's when the pen and paper become the appropriate outlet, at least for m