After making YouTube videos for fun with his sister, Canadian pop artist Johnny Orlando has transformed what was only a hobby, into a full-fledged career in the span of just a few years. In the beginning, Orlando and his older sister, Darian would make covers of their favorite songs and somewhere along the way it struck a chord.
A career in music was never the goal though. “It wasn’t even my idea, to be honest, it was my sister’s. She was inspired by YouTube covers of other people and we just kind of started doing it. She was like, ‘Hey John, do you want to make a YouTube video? I was like 8 years old so I was like, uh, yeah sure.’ I probably didn’t even know what a YouTube video was at that time, or what YouTube could really do. It was all by chance, honestly. I don’t think we had any intention of getting popular or getting paid, or even knowing you could at that time. YouTube in 2011 was different than today, there were not that many popular YouTubers, it was just kind of a fun hobby site for everybody.”
Johnny Orlando talks about what it was like to essentially launch a career for himself at eight years old.
“It’s really crazy, it all just happened so fast. The years kind of flew by– it feels like it was yesterday.” As for actually getting signed, he says, “The time from when I first started talking to labels to when I was actually signed was not a very long period of time– it was like 6 months.”
While the turnaround time on getting signed wasn’t long, Orlando and his team held off on even looking for a label for some time. “We didn’t want to use a label for so long because when you’re too young in the music industry, you sign to a label, you end up getting shelved. So, we wanted to wait until I had some leverage, until I had some popularity to sign to a label, and the label is just killing it. It’s amazing.”
Waiting was clearly the right move, and he definitely has some popularity with over 5.8 million followers on Instagram, he is on his way to being a household name.
When creating his latest EP, Teenage Fever which dropped last month, Orlando looked to some of his favorite musical influences: The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, Black. He says that he draws inspiration from a lot places, including his father.
“My dad used to play super old music from when he was a kid. I listen to Pearl Jam sometimes, a little bit of Otis Redding, that was before he was even born [laughs].” This culmination of modern and older artists helped mold his songwriting into what it is today.
Johnny Orlando and his sister co-wrote much of the EP.
“My sister and I were on every song, then we usually had one other writer or one other producer. It was really cool, I love working with Darian. She’s like the female version of me. We’re the same person, just different gender. I loved everybody that we worked with, I honestly don’t think we had one bad session on this EP. Obviously, some songs were better than others in the end, but mostly it came down to what fit with the Teenage Fever theme.
So, what constitutes the Teenage Fever theme? “To me, it felt more like a timeline than a body of music. The whole Teenage Fever concept is that it’s a collection of my experiences throughout my teenagehood.”
Read the rest of our feature with Johnny Orlando here.
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