Here’s what Toby Johnson had to say when we got a chance to ask him some questions.

Who were your musical influences growing up?
“Growing up I was brought up on the likes of Genesis, Led Zeppelin and Creedence Clearwater revival. My grandad is a big music fan and has more vinyls than I’ve had roast dinners so I think a lot of my musical influences transcended down from earlier generations. Another influence I have and for some reason I’m apprehensive to include it but I think Owl City impacted my writing style the most, he tells stories in such a creative and metaphorical way, I’ve always found that side of writing really exciting”.

Tell us about the new single California and what inspired it?
“The inspiration for California came from a writings sessions over Zoom with Leo Stannard, Jonathan Quarmby and myself. We wrote it in the midst of the Covid lockdown. I think we wanted to write something about a great escape and being able to set ourselves free. Lockdown was very restricting for us all so something a little more adventurous was something people were interested in listening to”.

What was it like working with Jonathan Quarmby and Leo Standard?
“Working with these two is always a productive sessions. We wrote Rumour of a Goodlife together a few years back so we knew what we wanted out of the session and I guess we simply revisited the formula we made back then and reapplied it to this release. Leo works on a lot of dance music so his influence from that world really helped to create a bounce and Jon’s demo production was perfection as always. The track demo for the track pretty much came together in a matter of days, therefore when it actually came to properly record it, we barely touched it”.

The video for California is great! Where was it filmed?
“California was filmed on the country roads of Marlow. We borrowed a car from a friend of the production team (Big Fat Creative), strapped a 10 grand camera to the bonnet and crossed our fingers that it wouldn’t fall off. We had loads of fun filming it”.

Can you describe your music in 3 words?
“Adventure, Nostalgic, impactful”

If you could collaborate with any other artist – who would that be?
“I’d love to write with Benjamin Frances Leftwich, I’ve always loved his style of music. 7. Can you explain about #QuestForCalifornia”.
“Quest for California came off the back of a discussion with the management/label team. We wanted to involve listeners in a wide scale adventure across the globe. We purchased a small teddy that looks just like me (from Istanbul of all place) and we’ve been gathering a list of people who are willing to pass it down the country from my sleepy city in Lincolnshire, across the North Atlantic and across the USA, reaching hit final destination of California. We actually have no idea if it’ll even get there but I guess that’s all part of the fun”.

If you had to be remembered for one thing apart from your music what would you want it to be?
“If I’m honest, I’m always trying my best to be a good person. There’s so much negativity in the world but luckily The positivity weights it out. I have a tattoo that says, “love and hate are beasts and the one that grows is the one you feed” it comes from a poem by Shaun Koyczen called “instructions for a band day”. The phrase always resonated with me and has helped me to just always try my hardest to make people smile”.

By Siân Parker