“Cycles” — The Latest from Johnny Cochran

Donna Block
6 min readJun 1, 2023

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South Louisiana native. “I grew up playing any instrument I could get my hands on in church and in bands along with my friends.” Favorite Cajun music songs to play?

When I was in college, I played in a zydeco ensemble, and I always go back to 2 songs we would play in that group: “I Got Loaded” & “Go Hard Or Go Home.”

“I’ve been honored to share the stage with many country music stars including Blake Shelton, Brett Young, Walker Hayes, and more.” Best advice another artist has shared with you?

I don’t recall who told me, but it was something like “get everybody else’s opinions out of your music if they don’t understand the vision.” That has helped me tremendously as of late, especially as I’ve ventured into a more undefined sound.

“Kiss Too Good,” “I had this little idea that I could do something so far out of the box with the guitar, bass, and drum relationship. I came up with this Polyphia/The 1975 kinda guitar line, and bass and drums just naturally followed. I remember thinking “how in the world am I going to fit this as ‘country’?” But at the end of the day, I felt it was musically compelling, so I decided I had to do it one way or another. Yet again, the banjo REALLY helps, haha.” How has your sound evolved since the 2019 release?

Well, I got rid of the banjos for starters. I think pushing the country thing for me just started to feel too contrived ultimately, so I really tried to dig into something that felt more akin to who I am as a person, and that turned out to be this Alt/Rock/Pop thing that’s happening now.

“Bad Boy.” Co-written with Grace Tyler (produced by Lee Brice) who shared, “… thank you to Johnny Cochran writing this song with me! This idea had been one I had been sitting on since the peak of Covid and I’m so glad we were able to write it together! We really wanted to capture the emotional rollercoaster of what it is like to be in love and how sometimes it can make all of us a little crazy.” How did you come to co-writing the song with Grace?

I met Grace’s manager, Anthony, at a benefit in Nashville shortly after the pandemic. We connected and I did a handful of shows with Grace as her guitar player. We got together to write shortly after, and ‘Bad Boy’ was the first thing that came out.

September 2022 — “…give myself permission to relieve myself of those social media demands which have run me dry.” What would you recommend to others finding the demands of social media too great?

Quality over quantity. there’s a lot of pressure to post absolutely nonstop as platforms become more saturated. I think a little bit of ad spend can go a long way too.

Patreon Community — sharing the new songs you are writing each week, exclusive content, and discounts. You ask these fans to help you make decisions about which songs to release, what types of videos you should make, and more. What songs have you changed based on fan feedback?

I think the biggest answer to this is that my Patreon community were behind the decision to do ‘Cycles’ as this current release. I had 3 tunes I had uploaded to the platform that I had as frontrunners for the next release, so I let the community decide and they actually selected ‘Cycles’ unanimously.

“Last Night,” “POV: you had a dream about your ex. … I wrote this tune about being somewhere in the middle of addictive behaviors and a toxic relationship cycle. This second verse was a re-write but Annie Wildgen helped me craft it exactly how it needed to be. … Had a blast cutting drums on this new track. I’ve programmed mostly everything I’ve done up til now, or had another player on it, but this is the first track that I live tracked myself and I’m really happy with how it came out.” How would you explain the difference between programmed music versus live tracks for fans unfamiliar with these production types?

Well, technically speaking the biggest difference you’ll hear is in the drum performance, particularly in the overhead and room mics. It just has a much more realistic feel all together and makes the ambience of the song not sound quite so dry compared to purely programmed drums. The programmed sound is a lot cleaner most of the time, but in my experience having the real kit as part of the song just blends better. Programming also tends to sound more robotic unless you have a great programmer who spends a lot of time on the tracks. I think the best part of making the switch has been getting that more realistic sound while also speeding up my workflow.

“Cycles.” What’s the backstory to your newest release?

The intro to ‘Cycles’ was a short loop of a track I created over a year ago that I had been sitting on that I wasn’t sure how to fit sonically with the rest of my music. After releasing ‘Last Night,’ I felt like there was a good window where this track could kind of makes sense so I brought in Annie Wildgen, my cowriter, and we wrote it probably only a month ago. Stylistically it just felt so right that I wanted to rush it out and put it ahead of some of my other releases, and as I said my Patreon community just confirmed it was the right choice.

As far as the story behind the lyrics, I spent the last couple years on a bit of a break from my music, on the back of end of a struggle with addiction combined with some relationship stuff I just never took the time to really deal with properly. As you might guess this produces a pretty vicious cycle and I guess I just started becoming more and more aware of how much that was affecting me. Fortunately, this was one of those moments where the music kind of finds you and, in turn, plays a major role in healing in your life. If I was smart, I would start going to the music a lot sooner because time and time again it always ends up proving the most therapeutic option for me.

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