Interview: Helena Torstensson
Photo: Martina Tornemyr
Johnossi is a rock duo from Stockholm, Sweden, consisting of songwriter, singer, guitarist John Engelbert and drummer, percussionist, singer Oskar “Ossi” Bonde. John and Oskar started playing together as a duo in 2004. They recorded their first album “Johnossi” after only five months as a band, and with only three live shows to their credit. The first single from that record “Man must dance” become a success on the Swedish radio charts. Their second record “All they ever wanted” came in 2008.
VENIA: How would you like to introduce your band to the Croatian audience?
OSSI: We are a live band, we are best live and that is how we have moved forward and build our audience. We are no extravagant people on the outside we just simply let our music and our live shows speak for us. I would like to say that we are an exceptional live act!
VENIA: What is the story behind your name?
JOHN: Simple I am John and his name is Ossi, at first we did not see ourselves as a band, more like two friends that did music together. We still don’t see us as a band, more like Simon and Garfunkel.
OSSI: Then we booth has pretty cool names.
JOHN: It works as a band name because it is nothing and does not mean anything. If you search for Johnossi on the internet the only thing you find is stuff about us because there is nothing else that is called Johnossi. The name is exclusive wherever you are, but that is something we have realized afterwards.
VENIA: Which bands that has had influence on you creative work and style?
JOHN: We don’t get inspired by other bands, our inspiration comes from other stuff like in our lives and in our fantasies. We get inspired by so much more than music, but of course also of other music, we listen to so very much music.
OSSI: One band that has had the perhaps greatest influence is Nirvana.
JOHN: They were the ones that inspired us most to start playing music like this.
OSSI: I belive you are the most influenced when you are like 10 – 15 year and the things that get stuck then are the stuff that shapes you in a way. Nirvana was the first band that gave me such a strong emotion.
VENIA: What or whom inspires you when you write the lyrics/music?
JOHN: Lyrically I start with myself and my own thoughts. I don’t get inspired when I see an old lady on the subway and think about her life. I use my fantasies and hopes and imagine how things should be if some stuff had happened on another way in my life, how I would feel in 5 years and stuff like that.
VENIA: Do you need to be on a special mood to be able to write/create music?
JOHN: I never force anything, it just comes when it comes. I tend to get a feeling when it comes. I don’t need to write every day but I need to have pressure on myself to write the lyrics.
VENIA: What drives you and makes you keep working with music?
OSSI: That thing is going good and forward for us.
JOHN: We don’t like when things stand still.
OSSI: The reason for us to begin playing is that we can’t do anything else; we are not that good on that much other stuff than music.
JOHN: If I have not played for a time I feel bad because of it, I need to scream on stage to be some normal person when I am not on the stage.
VENIA: Then you could say that music makes you happy?
OSSI: Yeah absolutely!
JOHN: Or it keeps us stabile.
OSSI: We always give everything on each show no matter how small or big it is. But on the days we are like zombies that save energy and then on the show we give it all we have. We do some interviews but otherwise we just sleep almost all day when we have a show.
JOHN: We have found a way to release our energy and that is what drives us forward the most.
VENIA: What is the greatest things that has happened in your musical career this far?
JOHN: You put up goals and think like this or that would be fun but then suddenly you have done those things without even thinking about it. Like we played at Rock am Ring last weekend in Germany and Rock am Ring was something I always watched on the TV when I was a child. When Rage Against The Machine played I was up all night to record their show and now last Saturday we stood beside the stage and watched their show, then it hit me that it is pretty cool that we are where we are. We like it best and play best if we have an audience of 5000 – 10~000 people it is on those stages we like it best.
VENIA: What can you tell me about your latest record “All they ever wanted” ? JOHN: We are very satisfied with the result, our first record was very spontaneous and naive. We did not have any experience and had only done like done 3 – 4 live shows before it so we did not know how it was to work in a studio or anything. Now that we have done a few 100 shows during these 3 years between the records we have got the experience and we knew more about how we wanted the record to sound like. We wanted it to sound more like we sound like live. I don’t like to analyze music. I am more into people listening to it and make up their own minds.
VENIA: Which song/songs move you most on that record?
OSSI: Every one of them otherwise they would not be on the record.
JOHN: We don’t complete songs that we are not 100 % satisfied with!
OSSI: We don’t have like 25 songs to choose the 10 best ones from. We do the songs that we know is going to be on the record and then all of them has to be good.
JOHN: Some songs move you more on other levels, some songs gives the feeling of aggressively and show a feeling of sadness but I don’t cry to my own songs, it would be selfish but I get moved by others music.
VENIA: If you were hit by a car and lie dying on the ground – but you got to sing one song that people would remember you for, a song that would sum up you which song would that be?
JOHN: I would sing the song that is on my mind at the moment a song by Pascal a band that comes from Gotland.
OSSI: I can’t come up with a song or imagine that I would start to sing when I was dying.
Thank you so much for your time!
For more information about Johnossi please visit: www.johnossi.com