Ming Johanson

From the first note of his latest single “Born to Raise Hell & Sing the Blues,” and I already became a fan. Derek Lee Goodreid isn’t just our modern day blues icon. I had the chance to chat with him and know more about his music. Let’s find out!

  • I noticed that you’re highly influenced by Howlin’ Wolf, but what other legendary artists inspire you?

I take inspiration from the dark lyricism of artists such as Johnny Cash, Mark Lanegan and Nick Cave. I also love artists that move hearts and feet like Elvis Presley, JD Mcpherson and Nathaniel Rateliff. Tapping into both emotion and physical is a key element I try to emulate in my music.

  • “The Shakes,” “Devil’s Due,” “Sticking Around” each of these singles has its own distinguished character. Is this one of the main points that you focus on while songwriting?

My friend and sound engineer Austin Hein commented that each song I write, and record should be a top song not just in audio quality but lyrically and musically and should stand the test of time on their own merit (Just paraphrasing but that was the gist). I got a lot from that as I tended to have a few songs that were half finished ideas or not quite up to standard and would release them anyway. Now I spend a lot more time and effort and make sure each song gets the care and love it deserves. And if it’s not good enough I don’t release it until it is.

  • Although your music videos are simple still, they’re really amazing but it’s been a year since your last one. Are you considering filming one soon?

There are plans to do more. It was just a way to combat the boredom and claustrophobia of the pandemic lockdown at the time but I am itching to do more now the restrictions are lifted.

  • “Born to Raise Hell & Sing the Blues” is a remarkable masterpiece indeed. Was it planned to add harmonica and upright bass lines from the beginning?

Bass most definitely, even though I am a solo artist I made a conscious decision to move away from doing solo arrangements with just a vocal and an acoustic, to widen the sonic palette. The idea for harmonica came when I was listening to the song and realised the piece missing was obvious as the song is inspired by Howlin’ Wolf and his blues harmonica is famous.

  • Also, a collaboration with artists from different continents, was an easy process to make the project done?

Surprisingly easy as the quality of musicians and musicianship are very high on each recording. I would give them certain parameters, but they were free to improv, and it just paid off each time.

  • I am a bit curious about the lyrics that provoke you to sing about the most. Tell me about it.

Regarding ‘Born to Raise Hell & Sing the Blues’, the chorus came about from a lot of therapy and self-reflection dealing with complex PTSD, depression, social anxiety and low self-worth. By embracing what makes me special it helped empower me and the anthemic nature of that song just electrifies my soul. The other songs I have written in this vein include, ‘Feel It!’, ‘Sticking Around’, ‘Damned’, ‘For All Time’, ‘Saturday Night’ and a few more but they can all be found on Spotify. It’s my journey from the dark to the light.

  • You may have heard this before, but in your opinion how the rhythm and blues would survive in such a modern era?

I think it has evolved and grown and great musicians take up the torch and champion it into new sonic realms, the Black Keys, Jack White, John Mayer, JD McPherson, Gary Clark Jr, even Queens Of the Stone Age have elements of rhythm and blues within their music that is undeniable. Would artists from that era have been as popular now if they time travelled to now, I think so as we are still covering their music and emulating the sounds they made. I think Wanda Jackson would be even more popular, Jack White recorded an album with her, and she was 76/77 at the time. The influence of rhythm and blues music will be felt long into the future even after I or you die.

  • You told me that Howling Light Recordings is your own home studio. In your opinion, a musician should be aware of sound engineering basics at least, or not necessary.

Short answer yes. Once you are in a commercial studio, unless you are being funded by a record label it is going to cost you money. Hone your skills in a home studio so you spend less time and money when you get there. I have just worked very hard to be able to afford industry standard gear and have put in the time to learn how to use it. You will go far if you learn at least the basics.

  • Thanks for the chat! Now, tell your fans more about your plans for the rest of 2022.

I am releasing two more singles this year. Breakthru Hardtimes, a beautiful, blues ballad featuring some of my own sweet soloing. The lyrics share my mental health journey and was written a couple months after I was hit by a car and dealing with physical pain from the injuries in particular my shoulder which made playing guitar incredibly difficult. The following single will be Racing Against Death a song that was also written and recorded around that time and features another collaboration with Adrian Whyte who added the lead guitar parts to it and feature lyrics that mention all my favourite rockabilly songs. It is a sort of self-parody after getting hit by a car and thinking that death is chasing me around. Very cathartic at the time. Will also start gigging soon so I am really looking forward to that and sharing my songs in person.

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