On Friday, Johnny Yukon released his new project Movies! Worldwide: Part I, which he says is not technically an album even if it does consist of 10 tracks.
It's really just "label semantics," the Los Angeles-based singer-producer says. He doesn't so much care what you call it, as long as you're listening—or watching, as the visuals have been just as important as the music itself.
"People say music videos are dead or whatever, and it's all about short-form," says Yukon, speaking with Variance ahead of the release of Movies! Worldwide. "I agree to an extent, but I've been so lucky to work with these two guys, Gary [Long] and Griffin [Olis], who have been amazing and willing to shoot on really tight budgets, but they're super talented. We have a lot of fun and, as a fan of other artists, I love a great music video, so it's important to me because it can bring a song to life if it's done well."
As Yukon began rolling out this new music earlier this year, the videos were a critical part of the story. And that's literally how he has portrayed each clip, as part of a story, leaning on the talents of Ollis, the director, and Long, the director of photography. Yukon says he met Ollis through Long, and he's come to appreciate the way they all work together, noting how importance it is to work and collaborate with the right people.
"Griffin is a genius and has so many great ideas," says Yukon. "Working with Griffin and Gary, it's to the point where I don't have to bring much to the table. They've got it, and it's something I love."
Of course movies are something he loves. Thus, the title of this project, a reflection of Yukon's larger vision for himself as an artist and his career, noting he's always had an affinity for film. "I love movies. I don't really watch TV shows," he says, referring to what he's building as "somewhat of a mini cinematic universe."
"There are these different characters I've been playing. It's kind of meta," he explains. "I've just been having fun with it. I feel like each song is its own little movie, and they're all in the same world sonically. But yeah, I wrote this script for the little short trailer we put out and I called the fake show in it Movies! Worldwide, and Gary was like, 'That's such a great album name.' And I thought, 'Yeah, maybe it is!'"
The timing for this project couldn't have been much better, as movies have certainly been in the news quite a bit over the past few months, thanks to the cultural phenomenon of the "Barbenheimer" effect at the box office, with Warner Bros. Pictures' Barbie and Universal Pictures' Oppenheimer serving as a dual juggernaut in movie theaters across the globe. And Yukon has taken note.
"I was so excited that this whole Barbie or 'Barbenheimer' thing happened," says Yukon. "I'm definitely a bit of an old soul at ties. But I was so stoked, especially because those were two movies that were original scripts. I think we've been in this decade of—and no offense—but it's been Marvel, that stuff, reboots and more reboots. It was a great feeling. It relit this childhood spark for me."
Now, the next move for Yukon is hopefully getting on the road. Recognizing his status as an emerging artist, he says part of the frustration of this phase of his career is the uncertainty and many times the lack of resources, which has prevented him from going on tour up until now. But that might be changing soon, if he has anything to say about it.
"I just had a meeting with a really awesome music director," he reveals. "And I'm hoping this upcoming week, I'll start getting a band together and rehearsing. Because yeah, my team knows, that's my biggest priority right now. I want to get the live show tight. And I'm excited because this music is going to be so fun to do live. It's just such a party experience. We'll see what's next."■