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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos

SPOTLIGHT ON DMA'S JOHNNY TOOK

Took will serve as a mentor in the first iteration of Headline Access' ongoing industry rewards program

Image: Supplied.


Earlier this month, Headline Acts launched their new music industry fund, Headline Access, in partnership with Muso. The first iteration of the initiative gives emerging artists the chance to score a money-can’t-buy experience, including private studio time with the DMA’S very own Johnny Took. We caught up with the musician to chat about the initiative and more!


The Release Cycle is the first iteration of the industry all-access fund, offering one budding artist the opportunity to gain invaluable mentorship from some of Australia’s biggest music industry names. I OH YOU's record label and artist manager Johann Ponniah, DMA'S Johnny Took and 3RRR radio host and publicist Sose Fuamoli have all jumped on board to help the recipient record, distribute and promote a brand new single.


Sign up to Muso by June 26 for your chance to score this once-in-a-lifetime oppertunity.



You’re joining Headline Acts new music industry fund, Headline Access, offering mentorship to emerging artists. What drew you to joining the initiative?


After 15 years in the industry I've had so many highs and lows and learnt so much from the people around me. I definitely jumped at the opportunity to share any knowledge I've learnt along the way and the shed some light on an industry that can seem so daunting and expansive to a young creative. One of my favorite things is to hear demos of new artists and to be able to help someone in the right direction so they can meet their full potential in the most constructive way possible.




How important do you think programs like Headline Access and The Release Cycle are, in terms of supporting and nurturing emerging talent?


I’ve been talking to a lot of industry people who have had ideas to also nurture young talent and I love that Headline Acts are jumping on board to be a positive force for Australian artists. Simple conversion and the answering of questions can pull down the curtain on a lot of facets of the industry that can seem too much for some people and hold them back in the early years of their careers.




What do you think has been the most invaluable advice you’ve received on your own musical journey?


As a band or project you play in starts receiving more attention, there is more pressure from labels, managers, publishers and mostly YOURSELF to try and keep the machine running. This can lead to being driven by some many different voices and reasons.


At one stage of my journey I was feeling exhausted by all these elements and I was given the advice that the only goal I should have when writing music is to return to the youthful feeling and awe that I had when I was 14 or 15 years old, when I first discovered songwriting. Focusing purely on this simplified my thoughts and made me fall in love with the magic of songwriting again. This is still my goal each day when I enter the studio.




Looking back on your own journey through the industry over the past decade, how do you think the landscape has changed for artists looking to kick start their career?


Obviously there is a much larger social media presence now than when I first started, which is great but also means there are more people online so it's easy to get lost in the crowd. Honestly I believe if you put the hours into your craft, don’t have a plan B, tour as much as possible and stick around long enough people will start to notice.


Another huge difference is that you could record at home but it was not as easy to make such great sounding home recordings for an affordable price like it is these days.




How do you think a program like Headline Access could have helped you when starting your own career?


I think a program like Headline Access could have helped me in a number of ways. One being the opportunity to work with a producer from a young age to help uncover the potential in my music and also the chance to ask experienced people the scary industry questions you think about! Just being able to talk ideas out with someone who has been through it.




How has your own artistry evolved throughout your career, and what are your thoughts when hearing some of your earlier work and compositions now, a decade on?


I feel like I just have more tools in my belt to work with now when creating music. I use these in different ways now to get inspired. In saying that, some of the best songs have been written with just an acoustic guitar and a fews chords in my early 20’s :)




The recipient of The Release Cycle will be joining you in the studio to record a new track. What do you think are the key ingredients to a successful studio session?


I think the main thing is for the producer to be a vehicle for the artist's creative ideas. For them to remember that it’s the artists project and to supply ideas and elevate their vision.




Who are some Australian emerging artists you think everyone should be listening to?


Planet - Indie band from Sydney

Nick Keogh - singer songwriter from Melbourne




DMA’S are known for their incredible live shows. How much influence do you think performing and playing live feeds into your own creative process when it comes to creating?


It used to not at all however after years of seeing the crowds response to songs both at festivals and our live shows I’ve definitely started incorporating elements into tunes that I feel will work well with a live crowd. It can even be used as inspiration for melodies. Sometimes I imagine if I was watching the song from a crowd's perspective and what melody I would like to hear next!




You’ll be returning to Aussie stages later this year for Falls Festival, before supporting Arctic Monkeys in Sydney next January? What are you bringing to these shows to create the ultimate DMA’S live experience?


Since the release of our third album ‘THE GLOW’ I feel like the set has a perfect mix of rock, dance and pop in it now to have the dynamics it needs to feel like a complete show.



RAPID FIRE


Biggest influences?

Bruce Springsteen


Dream collaboration?

The Chemical Brothers


Album that has had the most impact on you?

Further - The Chemical Brothers


Best song of 2022 so far?

Too Good For Giving Up - Liam Gallagher


What was the first song you loved to sing/play?

Guitar Town - Steve Earle


A song you would love to cover on tour?

Beautiful Stranger - Madonna


Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?

Gillian Welch - Time (The Revelator)


First concert you went to?

Jo Dee Messina or Janet Jackson


Best concert you have been to?

AIR at The Opera House was pretty special


First album you ever bought?

Bob Dylan - Greatest Hits III


Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?

Alexandra Palace, London


If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?

The Stone Roses


An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?

Earl Scruggs or Bruce Springsteen


What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?

Don't get lazy, don't miss minor details.


The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?

After my father first played me Joni Mitchell’s Coyote








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