Johnny Stanec Discusses New Tunes, With More to Come Soon!

Singer/songwriter JOHNNY STANEC has been releasing music for a while now, under his own name, experimenting with different styles and what not. He has a couple of single's out and about, with more music underway, including possibly playing shows! Lots more is discussed below.

1. Please tell us about your history.

Well, I've been around for a little while, actually. I co-founded a band back in the mid-2000s called First In Space. We wrote hooky rock and roll in the vein of Tom Petty and bands like the Replacements and Gin Blossoms. We released five full-lengths over a decade of performing. It was a good run, but it came to an end in 2018.

During one of our breaks, about ten years ago, I recorded a solo album with songs I had left over from previous recording sessions. It was odd at first to release something under my own name. I always saw myself as a person in a band and not as a solo artist, especially given the type of music I write, but after a while that feeling went away. Around that same time I performed my first solo shows, mostly they were acoustic, but there were a few with a backing band. 

After that, I released more solo music off and on until my band called it quits for good in 2018. After that I became really focused on my approach to releasing music as a solo performer. I never spent as much time before on my solo recordings and some of them were sparse and more acoustic songwriter type songs. But with no band to focus on, I wanted my solo music to be just as fleshed out as what my band did, and I released my first "focused" solo record in 2018 called 'The Future of Nothing'. After that I started playing much more on my own, and throughout 2018 and 2019 I did some light touring of the Midwest and east coast. The pandemic put a halt to shows for a while, but it gave me a chance to spend time recording new music. For most of 2020 I recorded songs and remixed old songs for re-release. I put out a vinyl collection in late 2020 called 'Never Met A Stranger', and in early 2021 I released highlights from old recordings that had been remixed and remastered. 

2. What’s the origin of the artist name?

I'm currently releasing music under my given name. No band name or alterego. I've never considered using a project name for myself, I figure being me is unique enough.

3. Where are you based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local artists you could recommend?

I'm from the town Bruce Springsteen sang about, Youngstown, OH, which people usually find interesting. It's a small city and it has all the problems associated with that. However, there has always been a small, but vibrant musical culture. The arts have always been supported here, even through our toughest times. Outsiders would probably be surprised to know we have a symphony and a long-running playhouse that puts on live performances. We also have a world-class art museum and a quality university all within the city limits. That is evident in the diverse range of music being made here. Many genres of music are represented here within the local acts and it is always evolving. Plus, we are located midway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, so that makes it a great stop for touring acts, of nearly any size.

4. How would you describe your style?

That is always a tough question... I am a songwriter first and as I go forward I like to think I am constantly changing and trying new things and challenging myself. For the longest time I wrote music that got categorized as "powerpop", which isn't a term I am fond of, if I am being honest. I play guitar and back when I started releasing music, that music was guitar-driven, melodic rock music. But along the way I've tried my hand at Americana-tinged folk rock, sparse acoustic tracks and more musically layered Britpop-inspired rock tunes. I am not focused on one specific style as much as I am focused on how everything comes together. I like layering in various instruments and giving each song its own flavor while still letting the original composition be heard.

5. What have you released so far and what can someone expect from your works?

I've actually just finished releasing "highlights" from previous records. I went through a sort of reimagining of my back catalog and had my favorite songs remixed and remastered. I packaged them into two volumes. The first volume, 'Northerner: Collective Vol. 1" focused on more recent songs written in late 2019 and throughout 2020. That collection featured most of the songs from my vinyl release from late last year, plus some other tracks I hadn't put out yet. The second volume, "Early Colors: Collective Vol. 2" included the best songs from my old releases that had been remastered. If I include my vinyl collection, 'Never Met A Stranger' and 2018's 'The Future of Nothing', then those round out what's available for listening. 

I like to think that everything that is out there is worth hearing. I may be new to most people, but I have been at it for a while. I've released acoustic songs, folk rock, alternative-rock-leaning guitar music and everything in between. 

6. Do you have any new music in the works?

My new single 'It Was Easy Now' comes out June 18th and can be heard anywhere music is streamed. I have another single releasing August 13th titled, 'Feels Like I'm Fading Away'. Both are, what I feel anyway, some of my best work. I am excited for both songs to be heard, and by hopefully an ever growing audience. After that, I have been recording more new songs for release later this year. I am planning on some additional singles to come out in the fall and into the coming winter.

Lyric Video for 'It Was Easy Now' -

7. How about playing shows and touring, have anything planned out?

Obviously Covid stopped touring and playing shows, but in the couple of years before the pandemic I was playing pretty consistently in cities from Chicago to New York, plus regional and local shows. I am just getting back into booking shows for the upcoming fall. Smaller acts like myself really had our momentum killed when the shutdown hit last year. I even know of places I played that closed for good, which is heartbreaking. My first show back will be in September and other dates are in the works. I hope to get back out to places I have visited in the past and perhaps a few others. That will continue into the following year as things get back to normal. I think once newly reopened places get themselves sorted out over the next month or two that live music will really be back in full swing. Larger acts are already announcing tours, festivals are happening and smaller bands are popping up again with smaller capacity venues starting to fill their calendars.

8. What plans do you have for the future?

I'm always writing and recording. I love the practice of making music and have no intentions of ever stopping. It has always been my passion and pursuing it is me living my own version of success. I write because I need to sort out my thoughts and I am forever chasing the next great melody. After these two upcoming singles, more will be on the horizon. For now I am focusing on one song at a time. In the past it was always about a full-length album and making that statement. Plus, I just did that in late 2020, so that release is still available on vinyl (find that link below for anyone interested). I think once I release a few more singles this year that I will want to go back to making a full-length again. I am sure by early 2022 I will have one in the works!

9. Where can we listen to your music and where can we buy your stuff?

Listeners can find my music streaming anywhere music is available. Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, etc. I also sell my music through Bandcamp. Even YouTube has my music streaming, plus some videos from past releases!

Bandcamp -

Spotify -

Apple Music -

YouTube -

10. What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most when hearing your music for the first time?

I have always been focused on the melody, harmony and lyrics. I write songs about my life, my point of view and the various ways I cope with the passing of time and the events I have experienced along the way. I think my message is universal and even a casual listener could get something out of what I am doing. I think music is a form of therapy and in every way essential to our life. I know there are people out there that will hear what I do and take something away from it. I believe my songs can have a broad appeal. Time will tell. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, I appreciate it!

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