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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Johnny Voltik
Monday, November 01, 2010

In 1996 I graduated from Fairfield Prep with Johnny Voltik. Don’t try to find him in the yearbook, though, as his current name is one for the stage. As with many high school friends, we lost touch after graduation, but last week we finally linked up again thanks to Elizabeth Allen directing me in Voltik’s direction at Conscious’ monthly Bondfire show. As it turns out, Voltik is an artist in the scene now, and after listening to his music I can say he’s a damned good one. To be honest, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise to me, as he was always a talented dude, even back in the day. This week we reconnected for a convo about his music, as well as our times at the all boys high school in Connecticut, and what from those days still has an impact on him today.

Adam Bernard: What have you been doing since 1996?
Johnny Voltik: Oh man, it’s been crazy. I ended up going to Curry College. I was studying theatre there, theatre and communications. I ended up leaving and I started this hip-hop/reggae group called Three Kings, out of Boston, and it was really successful. We got some serious press right away. Within the first two years we were opening up for Busta Rhymes, we had a little mini tour, we were making some waves, but I think we grew out of it. I wanted to find my own voice so I sort of backed out of the project. I think all of us sort of did. Everybody had a little something else that was going on, that they were pursuing. I started a production team with one of the guys from that group, Chuck Brewer, his brother Nick just started a band (The Memorials) with Thomas Pridgen of The Mars Volta. I wanted to try something new, so I just up and moved out here to New York and I was like I’ma do something that really characterizes me, so I started this project Johnny Voltik, which is basically a nickname that my father gave me.

Adam Bernard: When did you make that move to NYC and become a part of the scene?
Johnny Voltik: I got here at the end of ’07 and I didn’t perform for almost a year. Everyday I was just writing music and at the time I was also a personal trainer. I would write music and I would train. I did that for a year straight. I met Tasty Keish from going to Sucia parties and when I was there she was like “I want to put on a show,” and she put me on the gig. That was the second gig that I played. The first gig that I played was at Birdland. I ended up doing this anthology of black music, but I wasn’t really doing my thing, I was doing a bunch of old school stuff, breaking down the history of hip-hop music. When I got with Tasty it was like the first real gig that I played.

Adam Bernard: Your music incorporates a lot more than just hip-hop. How would you describe your style and what are some of your influences?
Johnny Voltik: I think my biggest influences as far as musicians are Wu-Tang Clan, Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, a lot of the classic music that I listened to when I was really young, when I was in my sister’s bedroom when I was like six or seven years old jumping around acting like it was me on the stage while listening to these other artists. Everything that I listened to from a young age coming out. I’m just realizing that. The world itself is a big inspiration to me, as well, and true stories, true life stuff. When I decided to go into this I really wanted to be able to speak about a song that I wrote and say this is what happened that made me write that song. In my previous projects I didn’t have that, it was more ideas and the idea of being something.

Adam Bernard: What are you working on right now?
Johnny Voltik: I’m working on an album that I hope to release in December. When I first got here I released a mixtape called The Missile Factory Vol. 2. It was just hard copies at that time, but I’ve been releasing singles constantly. I’m trying to fill the water balloon up, if you will, so when it’s time to throw the album it gives a big splash. I have so much music. I write constantly. I’m working on some licensing deals and producing for some other names. I get up in the morning and practice all day, pretty much.

Adam Bernard: Since we went to high school together, let’s take it way back to those years. Name a few Fairfield Prep teachers that had an impact you.
Johnny Voltik: Ms. Scoville because she provided that space for me to act silly and do theatre. Dr. Andrade was like the prophet of Fairfield Prep. She brought all the different cultures of people together and she provided a safe space for us to process our lives. Mr. Hanrahan would study with me outside of school cuz I had a tough time with history. Mr. Magdon was the shit. You couldn’t really hide from him because he was kinda like hood, a little bit. He would say “hey, I saw your dad the other night” and you’d be like aw shit, what’s he doing with my pops? Fairfield Prep was a serious experience because to go to a school like that, as a man, I think it had a big impact because you got to be yourself and you weren’t really showing out for women and it was really raw. I don’t know if it would have been the same going to a coed school. I think it kept me out of a lot of trouble, too. It was a good experience.

Adam Bernard: In retrospect, when we’re between the ages of 13-18 we really shouldn't be seen by that many people.
Johnny Voltik: I think you’re right. It’s good to get through that awkward stage, because 13-16 is awkward as a muthafucker. If you add girls you’d get yourself into a lot of things. A lot of kids I know became teen parents. I remember the first couple weeks I didn’t want to be there, though, because there were no women.

Adam Bernard: Plus we had to dress a certain way.
Johnny Voltik: That had an impact, too. I teach music production from time to time at different schools and I have this one school I visit frequently where the students wear lab coats, it’s a school of science and medicine, and it’s a grade school. I tell them in so many words that this is going to have a big impact on them when they get older because your professionalism is going to be on another level. Just on a subconscious level they’re ingraining that professionalism in them without them even knowing it. I think it sets you apart. When we graduated we wore tuxedos. That was cool, like graduating from a country club, or something.

Adam Bernard: What else should people know about Johnny Voltik?
Johnny Voltik: I guess people should just know the music. I think that's what’s important because the music is the reflection of me. I feel great to be able to share and inspire people and I feel like it’s really gonna make an impact on the world. Not to sound hippyish and shit, but I really do.

Related Links

Website: johnnyvoltik.com
Bandcamp: johnnyvoltik.bandcamp.com
ReverbNation: reverbnation.com/johnnyvoltik
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Johnny-Voltik
MySpace: myspace.com/johnnyvoltik
Twitter: twitter.com/johnnyvoltik


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:36 AM  
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