Push & the Pull
Take a solid foundation for how music literally comes together, an eclectic range of tastes in genre, inspiration drawn from real-life experiences, and a respect for history changers, and you have a general idea of where Jeff and his music are coming from. Depicting and combining that of a 'punchy-acoustic' guitar style, enduring clarity and ardor, and acrobatic poetry, a lot of his musical inspiration contains the well roundedness of vocals and composition. "I draw off some of my influences in that I love the beauty that can exist in an acoustic guitar, but also enjoy the gritty side of it - where the aggression lies." But it's more than just the way it sounds. "With all the bands that I listen to, it's good to see where they're coming from, even if I don't agree with them," he explains. "I like the humanistic qualities they possess. To me, that's total art." Growing in the Minneapolis area, Johnson has always been drawn energy music from an early age. Being classically trained in voice and theory, and self taught on guitar, the art form has always been a part of him. That said, he professes that his current roots draw from his time in Duluth. "I grew up as a human in Minneapolis, but really grew as a musician in Duluth (MN). There is an organic nature to the scene there that is one-of-a-kind... and definitely appealing to me." Now that he's back in Minneapolis, he's excited to plunge into a fresh scene. "My marketing scheme is this: if people like the music, they'll tell their friends; if not, then they won't." Jeff has made appearances in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, and even Australia, supporting artists such as Charlotte Martin, Mason Jennings, The Big Wu, and numerous more. "Jeff did a great job opening for Charlotte Martin," said Erik Stromstad, director of technology and music booking at Minneapolis' Varsity Theater. "He brought way more people than we expected of him as an opener. We plan to have Jeff back as soon as we can." He draws crowds at colleges, restaurants, concert halls, and theaters, through his original style of performance. Tiffany Mastin, University of Minnesota Duluth Statesman, raves about a concert she attended. "This singer/songwriter combines acoustic guitar with powerful vocals to create his own unique brand of acoustic rock," she says. Michelle, owner of Mama Getts Restaurant in Superior, Wisconsin, could not have been happier about having him as a guest. She says, "Jeff is welcome to play here anytime... (that night was) one of our best nights!" When making his newly titled (and solo debut) album, The Push and the Pull, Jeff didn't just hope for only good sound and catchy lyrics. To him, it was necessary that it went deeper than that. "I believe that what attracts people the most to a lot of music is realism," he explains. "I always try to keep that vision when on stage, but especially in the studio - it's always been about making the purest expression I can." Drawing his ideas for lyrics from life experiences, of nights driving alone and reflecting, and being fiery about world events, he finds it surprising how life experiences can inspire a song. "I like thinking and articulating what I see. As a career, I ask myself a lot of questions about the way I live; about social justice, relationships, how the world perceives people." With the release of his first album under his name, there comes both excitement and anticipation. "It can be hard in the beginning, putting yourself out there. After that there's that place, somewhere between not caring what anyone thinks, and allowing people's opinions to penetrate into the art. But it comes down to it being good music. It's good music when you are able to feel it, whatever that may mean." - written by Liz Schwiesow.