CELEBRATING ABORIGINAL HISTORY MONTH 2011: INTERVIEW WITH VERONICA JOHNNY

Fronted by the charismatic presence of six-foot, leather-clad Cree Veronica Johnny, The Johnnys sound is an eclectic mix of punk, garage, ’70s hard rock and ’50s rock’n’roll. Originally from the Northwest Territories, the band has built a reputation as an incendiary live act, blasting rapid-fire barrages of lightning-quick anthems featuring catchy hooks and tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

BCP: What nation are you?

VJ: I am Cree and Chipewyan mostly.

BCP: Where are you from?

VJ: I’m from the sub-arctic, near the largest national park in Canada. It’s full of wild bison (wood buffalo) that are the size of a small van.

BCP: Explain the name The Johnnys.

VJ: It’s our last name plus it’s memorable. Everybody knows a John or a Johnny. For most, I think the name “Johnny” conjures a character not unlike the attitudes in our music. He’s rough, tough and probably wears a leather jacket.

BCP: Why song writing?

VJ: It’s a good way to convey positive fun messages. It’s fun to sing and our lyrics make me feel like dancing and shakin’ something.

BCP: What is your process?

VJ: We write about personal experience or a fantasy character/life. We always start with a memorable idea or phrase and then think about what people might want to shout out during a rock show.

BCP: How long have you been writing songs?

VJ: I always wrote poetry and after I learned how to play guitar they gradually turned into songs.

BCP: Who are your influences?

VJ: Other fellow musicians I admire and know who are out there in the music scene, as well as Joan Jett, Madonna and others.

BCP: Your music is loud, fast, and fun.  What do you try to convey to your listeners?

VJ: Positivity. Self confidence. Euphoric release. Movement.

BCP: You have a feather hanging off your guitar neck.  Does your spirituality play a part in your writing?

VJ: In my solo acoustic music mostly. I wear a feather on my electric guitar to celebrate my Aboriginal ancestry.

BCP: Do you see your music as part of your spirituality?

VJ: As well as being the lead singer of The Johnnys, I play the traditional Aboriginal hand drum and sing traditional style songs as well. This music is definitely a big part of my spirituality.

BCP: Many artists identify in different ways. Do you identify as a musician? An Aboriginal musician? Or some other way?

VJ: I identify as an entertainer. I play the guitar and sing and what most people comment on after a show is my energy and stage presence. I love performing.  I love to dress up. I hope to start acting classes at some point.

BCP: You recently performed in front of a large crowd in Ottawa as the opener for Bif Naked.  How was that?

VJ: Amazing! Westfest treated us like gold. The highlight for me was when Thomas Star Walker Clair from Ottawa joined us on stage, in full Pow-Wow regalia. It was a surreal and he was breath taking while he danced.

Tune in to Black Coffee Poet Friday June 24, 2011 for a video of “The Johnnys” performing a song.

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About Black Coffee Poet

Black Coffee Poet is a mixed race poet, essayist, and journalist who focuses on Social Justice, Indigenous Rights, STOPPING Violence Against Women, Film, and Literature.
This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to CELEBRATING ABORIGINAL HISTORY MONTH 2011: INTERVIEW WITH VERONICA JOHNNY

  1. Daniel de Culla says:

    I like it so much.

  2. Pingback: CELEBRATING ABORIGINAL HISTORY MONTH 2011: A SONG BY THE JOHNNYS | Black Coffee Poet

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