From Shakespeare to Gauguin: Chatting with Britain’s Johnny Flynn

When I asked Johnny Flynn what two words could best describe his music, he chose “soulful” and “honest.” The talented songwriter and poet could not have selected better adjectives to portray his deep and beautiful sound.  He is one of the greatest lyricists, resonator guitar players and charismatic performers that have recently come out of the British music scene.

The vibrant artist surely knows how to write a song. For Flynn, storytelling is the best way in which he can express himself. While listening to his lyrics, I often feel as if I were wandering into a more humanistic period of time. Probably not a coincidence as he told me that Shakespeare is a writer he looks up to.

In person, Flynn is kind and funny, which reflects the fact that he is very down to earth and true to himself. His Montreal gig convinced me that he is a pure talent and that he stands in a category of his own. Throughout his performance he knew how to use his voice and how to capture his public’s attention (it was with ease that he got the crowd to sing along with him.)

Overall, his music is a nice message that reflects his vision of life, his simplicity and his love for the beauty of nature. I think that with the cold months ahead, a listen to Flynn’s pure and truthful music is certainly a good way to keep warm!

Q: Is there a difference for you when writing a song or a poem?

A: Most of the time the feeling is the same when composing a song or a poem. Most things start as poems, with words that I don’t know which way they are going to go. Overall, for me, composing songs or poems is just a really nice thing to do.

Q: Is it hard for you to tell a story in three minutes?

A: No, because the songs are so condense. I like to leave place for the imagination. I also like that there is a kind of economy in writing songs and that I can apply a lot to the atmosphere.

Q: Did you ever think about writing a book?

A: I have started to write about ten different chapters and one day I would definitely love to write a novel.

Q: You refer to God in some of your songs. Are you a really religious person?

A: No, I am not really religious. It is more of a spiritual guidance, a meditation.

Q: Is there a specific period of time in which you would like to have lived?

A: I am very into the Renaissance as it was a time during which mankind was discovering a lot of ideas. I like it because it had a nice message and people were more emotional. I am actually part of a choir in which we sing a lot of songs from the 1600s.

Q: Has art been a source of inspiration for you?

A: Yes, I am very into art and I feel inspired when I go to exhibitions or to galleries. Specifically, I enjoy the French Impressionists such as Gauguin.

Q: Nature and fruits are recurrent subjects in your songs. If you could choose between the country and the city life, which would you prefer?

A: I grew up in the country, so I do like the country life. I think that things are simpler there and that it is healthier. For me, looking at the mountains and the stars is like therapy.

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