PRO-PORTRAIT: Musician Mike Johnston sees songwriting as his therapy.

About a year and a half ago Mike Johnston was sitting in a cubicle working for a small finance company in New Jersey. “I was miserable, and heading down a road I wanted nothing to do with.” He knew what he’d much rather be doing—following his passion of music. He had been playing guitar since he was 10, and performing in bands since he was 15—still being “a musician” was still a dream. 

Then one day he had an epiphany and decided if he was ever going to follow his dreams of playing music as a career he needed to make a change. He packed up his car, and moved to San Francisco to follow his dream.

“I had driven around the country a year prior and remembered thinking if I ever felt the need to move somewhere, I could definitely live in San Francisco,” Mike tells the tale. Within a week of arriving in the City he met a woman on his bus ride home from playing at an open-mic event. She offered him her kitchen as a place he could call home for a few months, “I then moved to where I am now and haven't looked back since.”

Mike has just released his first EP called "Heady Convo's with Jimmy." The plan is to start playing live and begin touring as much as possible. He’s got a treasure-trove of songs he’s written, and can’t wait to get out there and perform. It's a well-worn path of today’s Indie musicians. “In order to succeed in today's musical climate and act or a band has to be on the road constantly and that’s my plan. Plus, touring is awesome!!”

Mike’s lyrics are very personal. He sees songwriting as his therapy. “I'd rather talk to a blank piece of paper than a therapist. There are no boundaries or insecurities when it’s just you and your thoughts.”  He says that much of what he sings about are everyday things—emotions we all feel on a day-to-day basis. “Everyone gets sad, angry, depressed, paranoid. I just verbalize it.”

Mike’s music is a reflection of his influences with a decidedly personal flavor. As a singer-songwriter he pulls from the likes of Phish, Paul Simon and Mike Bloomfield. “I like to look at myself as two different identities. One being a guitar player, the other being a songwriter. It's trying to find the right blend that is so intoxicating and fascinating. I guess as an artist, that right blend is something your always searching for.” He calls his style "Jam Pop".

“Nothing makes me happier and at the same time more confused and bewildered than music. It's constantly changing and can always go in so many different directions. That's what forces you to be creative, coming up with new sounds and ideas, and in turn those new feelings and experiences inspire you.”

You can hear Mike’s music through his Bandcamp page.

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