Interview With Pierre Johnson

24th Aug 2018 |

One of Cape Town’s freshest House Music talents will grace you, Sunday People, with an electrifying musical showcase on the 26th August 2018. Get ready for We House Sundays Ft. Pierre Johnson (Album Launch). This edition of rhythm and soul is sure to be a powerful musical feast, as we celebrate the recent accolades of DJ and producer, Pierre Johnson. The entire nation can attest to the sheer brilliance of this hitmaker’s growing success. Having recently released his debut album “Outsiders” on House Afrika Presents Mzansi House Volume 8, we caught up with Pierre Johnson to get to know the man behind hits such as “The Cure” and “Movin’ On”.

Growing up in Athlone, a Cape Town suburb, on the Cape Flats, Pierre recalls the days when he’d arrive home from school and go through his older brothers’ music, which included Fish Go Deep, DJ Fresh, Julien Jabre, Rocco and Fistaz Mixwell. Early exposure to such music greats has sure worked in his favour as he speaks of always having an interest in sound, “my mom bought me a Hi-Fi when I was 10, every day after school, I would take my CDs I had burned and record them on to a cassette for the drive to school the next day, because my uncle’s car never had a CD player.” With an evident dedication to the music, Pierre does not shy away from his humble upbringing, “I had no financial resources, things were always difficult at home, this taught me to be independent from a very young age. If I wanted something, I figured out how to do it on my own.”  With countless early setbacks, Pierre continued to persevere and used it to guide and fuel his music career, “I had saved for equipment, the house got burgled and my things were stolen. I’ve had to start from scratch so many times. I’ve failed so much, even today, I still fail but I love it because it teaches me and I become wiser”, he says.

Having quit school at the age of 16, Pierre began playing in nightclubs, doing guest mixes on radio and within a few months earned his first nightclub residency and laughs that this was his first actual job. “I was out almost every night, DJing, it made me happy and I could picture myself doing this for a really long time, so I just never went back (to school).” Pierre hasn’t let the struggles he’s faced deter him from making something of himself, and it is clear to see that he is in tune to the daily struggles faced by so many in the world, which contributes to his unique sound. “I come from a poverty-stricken home, I know what it’s like to go to bed hungry, all of it (my surroundings) made me question a lot. I found the answers I was looking for, eventually, and the only place I could put it was in my music.” This can be heard in his game-changing track “The Cure”, it’s a song that sends goosebumps to the surface of your skin as you are caught up in the words sampled, bassline and just the proud feeling knowing that a Cape Town native conjured this powerful, soulful moving track. With no capital to begin releasing his music, Pierre taught himself video production, graphic design, public relations and copyrighting. He says, “I found a distribution company and released all my music independently.” With the nation’s response to “The Cure”, Pierre Johnson says at first it was unbelievable that the track travelled so fast around the country. He believes people are beginning to familiarise themselves with his sound. “Most of my songs have similar elements which make it easier to recognise, people feel that they can now relate to the message.”

His debut album, “Outsiders” is in part the product of voicing the struggles faced by his grandparents during apartheid, particular the Group Areas Act. An honourable body of work which confronts the reality that many people of colour still feel like outsiders in their own city. “I stay in the part of Cape Town you don’t see, the slums. Before I was born, my mom’s parents were forcibly removed by the government from their house in Green Point.” During apartheid, Green Point was declared a “whites only” area and Pierre’s grandparents were forced to relocate to Athlone – strategically replaced further away from the city centre. Through his music, Pierre has found a way to raise the struggles of many people in the shadows of South Africa and get the nation dancing simultaneously. “I can’t count how many times I lost myself in the process of making this album, a lot of emotion went into this project.” Pierre’s debut album “Outsiders” is exclusively available on HOUSE AFRIKA Presents Mzansi House Volume 8. Pierre says he is extremely grateful for having one of Africa’s longest and most consistent record label support his project and get his message across.

With his growing success, Pierre remains the humble and easy to approach person many people have come to love and appreciate. “I’ve fallen before, from an ego I had grown, lost friends, business and myself. I can talk about it because I’ve learnt from it, and it has taught me to treat everybody with mutual respect and love.” Pierre believes it is important to interact with the people who support his music on all platforms. He says, “I go out as much as possible, even when I don’t have a gig, and I socialise with everyone. People that support what I do I keep close.” Pierre still believes that there is more to be done to consider himself successful. His advice to other Cape Town House producers and DJs trying to get their music heard is “study yourself, know yourself, know what your weaknesses are and mould them to become your strengths.” Having the approval of one of South Africa’s most iconic DJs is a sure way to motivate you to continue on the path of creating music. “When Vinny Da Vinci told me he loved Cure, it really boosted my confidence and made me want to write more and more music”, he says.

When he isn’t behind the decks, you can catch Pierre somewhere on the dancefloor appreciating the music with fellow dancers. At We House Sundays, “it’s an energy like no other, I’ve lost myself on that dancefloor with my eyes closed countless times while Leighton Moody is playing, surrounded by the most beautiful souls. It is family.” Pierre will be blessing the Colorbox Studios with yet another set on 26th August 2018, if you were lucky to catch his previous We House Sundays performance with Winnie Deep, you’ll know that you’re in for an epic dancefloor session. Sunday People, you’ll be treated to “loads of unreleased music from my favourite artists, some classics I’ve always dreamed of playing in this space and some really high energy (tracks)”.

Pierre is a firm believer in the Law of Attraction and speaking things into fruition, with all that he has achieved so far he believes it is important to surround yourself with people that are on the same frequency as you, “when you are in the right place at the right time, the universe will open doors for you.” He remains on the grind and keeps surprising South Africa with all that he is capable of doing, in the coming months you can expect “a 3 track EP, a collaboration from myself and Avi Subban on Kalushi Recordings, a 3 track EP in collaboration with Cape Town Electronic Music Festival, a single collaboration with Ed-Ward and I’m also practicing for my live showcase”. The future looks incredibly exciting for House Music in Cape Town and South Africa, we cannot contain our excitement for the one-of-a-kind aural experience that will take place at We House Sundays Ft. Pierre Johnson (Album Launch).

Interview and content by _ Mandy Alexander