A+ A-

INTERVIEW with DJ & producer Johnny Yono

An artist in every sense of the word, Johnny Yono brings all the passion and charisma that great musicians are made of. Born and raised in the suburbs outside of Detroit, Michigan Johnny led a very active upbringing, dabbling in everything from ice hockey to playing drums in rock bands before pursuing an acting career. Following his high school years, he was drawn in to Motor City’s rave scene and through Detroit’s legendary underground dance culture, Johnny’s love for electronic music began to blossom. 

At the time however, acting was Johnny’s primary focus and in his early twenties, he set out to Los Angeles to pursue the grand dream of making it on the big screen. Johnny landed numerous roles in TV shows and independent films and managed to keep himself afloat but, continued to indulge in LA’s ever-growing electronic music industry. Having been inspired by Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk, Sasha & Digweed and many more, Johnny could no longer ignore his true calling. He assembled a small studio and began producing dance music. After experimenting with a variety of sounds, he finally planted himself in the realm of Trance and has remained ever since.

Turning heads with his breakout single, 'Fairfax' -- Johnny established himself as a name to watch out for after signing with UK's powerhouse Trance label, Enhanced Recordings. The track received massive support from many artists including Armin van Buuren on 'A State Of Trance' and Markus Schulz on 'Global DJ Broadcast' where it was named the "Global Selection". Following the aftermath of 'Fairfax', Johnny continued a streak of releasing quality dance tracks ever since. From the energetic, Tech-Trance monster, 'The Machine' (with Juventa) to his numerous classics on Lange Recordings such as 'Orion' and 'Exodus' and flexing his versatility with his debut 138 BPM single, 'Pulverize', Johnny has established himself as one of the genre’s brightest up and coming talents. Over the recent years, he’s made his mark on renown industry imprints such as Armada Music, Euphonic Records, Garuda Music, Damaged Records and Perfecto Records, where he not only remixed Paul Oakenfold's covers of the classics, 'Barber’s Adagio For Strings' and 'Hold That Sucker Down' but, also released his first EP, 'Poison Whispers' which received numerous plays from Armin van Buuren on 'A State Of Trance' as well as support from Ferry Corsten, Mark Sherry, Lange, Andy Moor, Simon Patterson and many others. 

As a DJ, Johnny has shared the stage with many key players on the forefront of Trance including Dash Berlin, Ferry Corsten, Aly & Fila, Paul Oakenfold, Andrew Rayel, W&W, Cosmic Gate, Lange, Omnia, Kyau & Albert, Solarstone, Alex M.O.R.P.H., Jordan Suckley, Photographer and more. He's no doubt among the most promising rising stars in Trance music today and certainly one to keep on your radar in the coming years.

You can catch his monthly radio show, 'White Light Sessions' every 2nd Tuesday of the month on Digitally Imported (DI.FM).

Interview is written and conducted by Dimitri Kechagias, Music Journalist and Radio Host at 1mix radio

Johnny Yono
Dimitri: In your bio is mentioned that your main aspiration was to become an actor and you tried to pursue your dream. What you remember the most from that period and which role that you played is your all-time favorite? 

Johnny: Yes I moved out to Los Angeles to further pursue an acting career but, it was back in Detroit when I started that journey. I'd have to say I remember everything in my pursuit as an actor from all the exciting auditions for movies and TV shows that I was called in to read for to some amazing acting classes and of course, the work I got in TV and Film itself. One of my all-time favorite and challenging roles was playing "Laertes" in Hamlet back when I started doing theater. I learned how to use a fencing sword during rehearsals!

Dimitri: When and under what circumstances electronic music came in your life? Is there a definitive moment that the passion to produce and DJing became your main goal of your life? 

Johnny: Well, Electronic Music found its way to me in Detroit back in the early 2000's after being exposed to the underground rave scene which is when I first heard club music in a live setting but, I think the true passion to produce the music itself, particularly Trance, hit me in 2006 - '07 after working several bar gigs for massive events like Together As One and Giant Maximus here in Los Angeles. I got to experience live performances from Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk and Sasha & Digweed -- needless to say...I was immediately hooked. I said to myself "this is what I want to do!" In 2007 I learned how to DJ (on vinyl) in West LA at a school called Scratch DJ Academy which was founded by Jam Master Jay of Run DMC. I was the only student in the entire school playing Trance music at that time.  

Dimitri: Do you recall your first ever studio set up and is it any different nowadays? 

Johnny: You're going to laugh when I tell you that I began producing with some M-Audio Studio Pro 3's -- basically they're glorified desktop speakers -- not ideal. I was on a Dell Dimension 4600 back then. Horrible CPU! I still work in the same DAW though which is FL Studio. 

Dimitri: How did you manage to attract the attention of Enhanced Music in UK and release with them Fairfax? 

Johnny: Back then I was in touch with Daniel Kandi and Phillip Alpha who ran Always Alive Recordings and I just sent over the track to them. It was later included on the first ever Amsterdam Enhanced mix compilation. Many people will tell you it's my breakthrough track. 

Dimitri: What you remember the most from the production of that track and when you listen to it now do you spot any mistakes or errors that people may not be able to hear?

 Johnny: I remember it took quite a while to layer the synth sounds that I used for the Lead melody. There are a bunch of things in that track as well as many others that I always wish I could go back and fix -- things I could've done differently. We are never at our best when releasing music, in my opinion but, in my experience, I've learned something new from every project. The evolution in music production is constant and it's a beautiful thing.

Dimitri: You continue to work mainly with Enhanced Music various labels and particularly Lange recordings. What is your opinion about Stuart (Lange) and have you missed Lange recordings? What do you think about its successor Create Music? 

Johnny: Actually, I am starting to work more now with Armada Music. Stuart is a great guy! He has been a huge mentor and a good friend of mine for many years and some of my biggest tracks to date were on Lange Recordings. Sadly, it had to close but, it was an honor to be part of such a great label. Create is doing well. I like the direction it has taken on and I've supported quite a few records from that imprint. 

Dimitri: You have released wide variety of productions ranging from 130 to 138 BPM. Which style of trance do you like the most to produce and DJ and why?

 Johnny: I'm a Progressive Trance artist by nature. It's just what speaks loudest to me and I feel it's a far more diverse genre of Trance versus the 138 styles.

Dimitri: You have remixed many great artists including Paul Oakenfold. Which are your top 3 remixes and please give us a short comment about each one. 

Johnny: One of my personal favorites was my remix of Greg Downey & Bo Bruce - 'These Hands I Hold' -- her voice is just so beautiful and powerful which made things easy in the production process.

 I remixed Allen & Envy - 'Coherent' for Damaged Records after Jordan Suckley reached out to me for the request and wanted it in the same style as my remix for Oakenfold's 'Adagio' cover.

My bootleg remix of Marcel Woods - 'Advanced' is another personal fave simply because that was one of the staple tracks that got me into Trance.

Dimitri: You have many tunes under your belt with great success on the various download shops. Can you pick up your Top 5 Johnny Yono ever tracks and give us a short comment about each one of them. 

Johnny: 'Orion' -- was a fave of many of my fans. John Askew once told me it was one of his favorite Trance tunes of all time.

-'Exodus' -- another record from Lange Recordings. It was written during a very difficult time in my life. 

-'Poison Whispers' -- it's the title track from my first ever, 3-track EP on Perfecto Fluoro. It was written during a time when there were a lot of negative things being said about people behind their backs.

-'The Highways Of Valhalla' -- was inspired by the movie Mad Max: Fury Road. The original version actually included an audio clip from the movie but, the label didn't wanna risk copyright infringement so I unfortunately had to leave it out of the final version.

-'White Light' - was played twice on ASOT and was the track that got Armin's personal attention which lead to a signing on the A State Of Trance label. 

Dimitri: Your latest release is on Black Sunset Music part of Armada Music. Would you like to tell us if it was a hard or difficult track to produce and what part of the track was the toughest to make it perfect?

Johnny: 'Severed Ties' is a reflection of pain from a recent break-up so, in that regard it was easy to put together. The mixdown itself took quite some time to get right -- there are a lot of layers in that track. 

Dimitri: Can you give us some hints of your forthcoming releases? 

Johnny: A follow up to 'Evil Intent' is in the pipeline. I just finished the first draft of another single much like the same style of  'Cimmerian Sky' and 'Severed Ties'. I completed the instrumental for a brand new vocal project that I am working on getting a singer for. I also wrote a Techno track that I may upload as a Free Giveaway to fans. Some remixes and collabs on the way too! 

Dimitri: You have performed along many great trance DJs. Who was the most loveable and friendly DJ to hang out with and can you give us a hint about the most arrogant big name DJ that you came across? If you don’t wish to tell us the name just describe to us what happened when you met him. 

Johnny: Ferry Corsten was one of the nicest guys I've had the pleasure of playing with. I haven't really had any negative encounters with any artists in the industry....so far that is. 

Dimitri: From the gigs that you did so far which one was the craziest and most out of this world that you even totally lost it playing on it. 

Johnny: One of them has to be my debut in Hawaii back in 2013 when I played with Aly & Fila. I didn't realize how many fans I actually had there on that beautiful island and what a passionate and supportive community of Trance music lovers they are!  I played in front of nearly 2,000 people that night and also debuted my single, 'Orion' during that show (video on YouTube). Still one of my favorite gigs to this day! Another memorable show was my debut in Dubai at the Holi Festival Of Colours which is a music festival that celebrates the arrival of Spring and the passing of Winter. People throw colored baking flour all over each other -- it's most certainly a one-of-a-kind event and I was honored to be a part of it. This was the biggest crowd I've ever stood in front of which was around 11,000+ people.  

Dimitri: Which places are you going to visit as DJ soon and which places you aspire to visit as DJ and why?

Johnny:  I have a debut coming up this year in New York City. I'd like to pay a visit to Australia someday especially since the Trance scene has blossomed quite nicely there and of course, Europe which I hear is incredibly beautiful and the history of Trance music there has been very prominent. It's always been a dream of mine to play the legendary Ministry Of Sound in the UK, so hopefully that will become a reality some day.

Johnny Yono

Dimitri: People tend to forget those who have helped them in their early stages of their careers and they fly high by ignoring them. Have you ever thought how are you going to keep your feet on the ground if you become super huge name? Do you have any tactics to achieve it? 

Johnny: Firstly, I am not in this business for the wrong reasons. I'm as humble as an artist can ever be which keeps me grounded and I intend to stay that way going forward. A lot of these guys get into this industry for the "sex, drugs and rock 'n roll' but, that's not who I am and never will be. I want to share my music and see the world while doing it. 

Dimitri: Do you have currently any radio show or podcast? Do you enjoy producing it and do you see people reacting positively to it?

Johnny: I've had a radio show called "White Light Sessions" that I've been doing for over 7 years now. It airs every 2nd Tuesday of the month on DI.FM's DJ Mixes Channel. I've had some amazing guests such as Sean Tyas, Protoculture, Lange, Sied van Riel, Dan Stone, Ferry Tayle and many more.

Dimitri: Finally with whom from the big name DJs and producers would you like to collaborate and in what type of track?

Johnny:  Eric Prydz in whatever style he wants. You hadn't asked me about a vocalist so, I hope you don't mind that I include Nadia Ali in there as she is simply one of my favorites!

Dimitri: Your message to all our readers please. 

Johnny: Be sure to connect with me on all my social media sites, drop me a line or two and don't forget to tell your friends. I would love to hear from you all. Thank you for reading! 

Thanks so much to Johnny Yono for his precious time to reply on this very detailed #mustread interview.

Additional info: