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Johnny Cochran: The Ragin’ Cajun’s New Single “Kiss Too Good”

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Can you please share a brief bio of your career to date for new fans?

Brief is the hardest part for a talker like me, haha.

I grew up playing in Louisiana since I was about 12 years old. I always wanted to be in bands. I was starting a new one every couple months it seems. Later years I found myself in more established groups, where I learned a lot. Eventually I realized I needed to make the move to being a solo artist. I did that and played for a couple years in Louisiana before realizing I needed to make the move to Nashville. A couple months in I signed with my first booking agent, and I’ve been working on a new record since I’ve been here. Now it’s time to put it out!

Raised in Louisiana — how has your home state influenced your music?

South Louisiana has a VERY distinct culture, and the music is no exception from Cajun to Zydeco. My college years were really more of my introduction into that genre because my parents weren’t originally from Louisiana. But learning more about it made me fall in love with the culture all together. I think at the end of the day, I pulled most of my musical influences from other directions that I found earlier on in my life, but culturally, south Louisiana made a huge impact on me. I still carry a lot of it around today. One big part of that is the whole “Baw” thing. People ask me what that is all the time. To put it simply, it’s just a Cajun pronunciation of “boy”. But my friends and I say it so much that it became a thing, and eventually part of my brand. Now I see random people when I walk around Nashville and I’ll hear them yell out at me, “ayyye baw!” So I think the whole Ragin’ Cajun thing is really where my roots showed up in my music and my brand.

What are some of your fondest family musical memories?

When I still lived in Louisiana, my older brother played bass for me. We spent a lot of time playing tiny little shows as a three piece band. It’s always a weird dynamic when you’re in a band with your brother, especially when you’re the artist but he’s the older child. It was like pulling teeth sometimes but at the end of the day I wouldn’t trade it for anything. He was always such a hero to me, watching him play guitar growing up, so having him experience the stage with me as a part of my band is something I’ll always hold near and dear. The drummer in our three piece, Dylan, was also very tight with both of us, so it was like my little band of brothers.

Musically, what are your biggest influences and who are your favorite artists?

My favorite artists nowadays start with Dan and Shay and I’ve recently added the group Seaforth to the shortlist. All time though, my favorite band was Underoath. They’re a totally different sound from what I play for sure, haha, but I actually do still pull a lot of inspiration from them. I was just a 12-year-old kid who thought heavy music was the coolest thing out there. I think to add to the list of bands that inspire me: definitely on this record I have to say The 1975 and Polyphia. Again, two bands not in the country genre, but I’m so drawn to how those groups approach groove and feel of a song. I really wanted to pull that into my music.

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Favorite home state venue?

Oooh good question. If festivals count, I’d definitely say Cajun Field for Mardi Gras Festival. I’m just such a big Ragin’ Cajun fan. I played that festival a couple years ago opening for Brett Young and it was absolutely incredible.

First concert you attended?

Switchfoot was the first band I ever saw. I was probably twelve years old and they were one of my first favorite bands. It was like watching superstars. I was mesmerized.

What was it like the first time hearing your song played on the radio?

It was really cool, but I think more than anything else it felt fulfilling. It felt like a “this is where I’m supposed to be” moment.

How has your music evolved since your debut single and your newest “Kiss Too Good”?

Oh man hahaha. POLAR OPPOSITES. The first single I ever released, which I am no longer including in my catalog moving forward, was the result of me doing what someone else suggested and what I thought it would take to break into the country scene. It was me trying too hard to be “country-er” if you will.

“Kiss Too Good” came from a totally different place. It was my sitting down saying, “instead of trying to be LIKE country music, what can I bring to country music instead that only I can?” That was the birth of this new sound. It’s essentially just my roots and my favorite artists as well as my favorite musical tendencies packaged into one ‘sound’ if you will. Country is one of those sounds as well and what’s cool about that is that country is the type of sound you can’t take out of the song. Once it’s country, SOMEONE will insist it’s country, regardless of how traditional, or, in my case, progressive it is. The banjo definitely helps, haha.

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Story behind your latest song?

I kinda told it in that last question, but to elaborate a little more, I wrote it by myself shortly before I moved to Nashville. Musically, I didn’t know what to do with it, but 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.

Another interesting note about this song (and record, for that matter) is that I played the whole track, but I really believe that is how I was able to put so much of my trademark on this song sonically.

“Kiss Too Good”

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When will the video come out?

Drops on June 14 along with the single!

“Kiss Too Good” Video

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Will your concert series this summer in Belize be your first overseas?

Yes, my first! Super excited too, I just finished up my passport recently!

Your opening act, Clay Cormier, is also from Louisiana. Any upcoming co-writes?

Clay is a really good buddy of mine. We actually have been working on a record right now for him (I’m producing it), so in that sense, yes, lots of co-writing!

If you could dabble in any other genre of music, which would it be?

SO MANY. I grew up loving metal and hardcore, and I still find myself loving so many little pieces of those genres, especially as a guitar player. I was in so many heavy bands growing up. There’s definitely a moment on my new record that you can hear that. I also love pretty much any form of pop/rock. I’d love to make an ambient pop record one day too, something like Chelsea Cutler or Dermot Kennedy, although I might have to work on the pipes a little to get on his level vocally, haha.

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How do you balance your music with other obligations?

I don’t.

That’s both my funny answer and real answer. As a young, single guy I don’t naturally have a ton of other obligations, especially considering I play music full time. So basically every day I rationalize working on music with “I want to eat”.

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And considering I don’t have many obligations, I recognize that and decided that it was my opportunity to really dive in head first. My whole life is music and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do often go home to Louisiana though to see my family. All my family lives at my parents’ house so it’s a one stop trip. We’re all really tight so it’s very important to me. I probably go down there once a month, but generally speaking I am still getting work done during the day while I’m there. We also recently added our first baby into the mix. Seeing my nephew every time I go home is definitely the highlight. He’s perfect.

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Is Shaq your favorite basketball player?

Okay, can I just mention that I LOVE this question? What many may or may not know about me is that I am the hugest basketball fan. Specifically the NBA. So yes, I love Shaq. I won’t say he’s my favorite player though. He did go to LSU, but I went to University of Louisiana (Geaux Cajuns) so I don’t draw the connection so strong.

I’ll say this though, Shaq is my favorite basketball personality. He’s an entertainer through and through. My favorite player would have to be Russell Westbrook. I love intense, athletic players who can jump out of the gym.

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What’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing or playing?

If I’m not writing or playing, you can find me cuttin’ up, eating some watermelon, yelling “baw” at my friends every 5 minutes. Generally speaking, I just like to be social. Watching/playing basketball would be my second choice.

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