Independent Artist Spotlight: Spooky Goth Music
Spooky Goth Music is the creation of Johnny Michaels, a singer-songwriter born in the Philippines before being adopted and moving to small-town Connecticut, and then eventually growing up musically in Brooklyn. This unique and worldly upbringing has provided him with the ability to have a well-rounded life experience and use that in his artistry.
Michaels initially broke into music as a professional hip-hop dancer and in 2021 returned to making music after a 15-year hiatus. Beyond being a dancer and a singer-songwriter, he has been playing guitar, drums, and piano since a young age making him an all-around musician with a versatile background.
In less than a year since getting back on the scene, Spooky Goth Music has accumulated 1,300 monthly listeners and has quickly become an artist to watch. With all of this going on, we took some time to catch up with him and find out more about how he got here and what’s next for him.
As with any story, we started at the beginning with him and asked how he started Spooky Goth Music.
“If we’re being honest, it started from the pandemic and sitting inside not being out and about. I took a break from music for about 15 years and realized I was surrounded by instruments (literally) that I haven’t touched in years. Before becoming a dance major in college, I was going to go to school for music. I already had the training and the ear supposedly.
During the pandemic I started listening to this singer my brother told me about, Joji. His music really spoke volumes to me and I said, “I really love this guys sound and production. Let me see if I can dabble in something similar.” One thing led to another and I went down a rabbit hole and realized I was reintegrating what I once knew in music to create my own.
Not to mention, I’ve always been an emotional little panda. I literally have a tattoo of a heart on my sleeve. I thought to myself right now, the world is at an all time low with what’s going on, and I know I’m not the only one feeling the way I do now. So I started creating music, writing lyrics, arrangements and so on. I wanted to put my music out there, but I didn’t know what name to go by. My birth name was pretty boring and it didn’t have the “razzle dazzle” as others. So I chose “Spooky Goth Music.” It’s a play on words/sarcastic name because I know its a name not many people would take serious. It sounds comedic and more like a joke, but at the same time the name is so foolish that it’ll turn heads, open ears and make some people say okay, I need to hear this music. A ridiculous name like that? The music has got to be a joke. And that’s the irony. The music I create and the process I go through is the furthest thing from a joke.
We thought it would be a good time to pause and reiterate one of his points from this answer. While the name is one that grabs your attention and even sounds not serious, it just takes one listen to hear the level of care and genuine professionalism in his sound. For instance, the song ‘Lonely’ (his most streamed on Spotify), is a great synth-pop song that’s lyrics accurately reflect the shared experience of humans over the last year plus.
As for other songs of his to put on your radar, we asked Johnny which of his songs best represented his sound on the whole.
“The song “Call Me When You Get Home”. I released it during the summer. It’s upbeat melody will grab your ear, but the lyrics tell a story of heartbreak and I’m sure that’s a universal feeling we’ve all felt before. I was joking with my friend saying the introduction sounds like something you’d hear as a theme for a TV family sitcom.
The other song that best captures my vibe would be the song “Lonely”. It was the first song I put out under the Spooky Goth Music moniker, and it was so honest and raw that I’ve had a lot of people write to me saying its a song they needed to hear because it’s something they’ve been emotionally feeling for a while.”
We mentioned ‘Lonely’ above, but ‘Call Me When You Get Home’ is a spirited combination of rock, pop, and electro sounds. You can check out the lyric video here.
When you listen to his music, you hear the diverse musical background he comes from in each song. To understand what inspires him more clearly, we asked him about his influences.
“Currently the artists that influenced me the most and shaped my current musical landscape have actually been Bleachers, Joji, Angels & Airwaves and a lot of golden era rock n roll. You know, the good stuff from the late 50’s to early 60’s. Jack Antonoff and Bleachers impact me the most. I’ve heard quite a few people say they hear Bleachers influence in my music which is also a cool compliment. I find myself endlessly watching his videos on production and his behind the scenes of musical composition. Plus the revival of pop punk has had a major impact on me as well. Artists like Machine Gun Kelly, and a lot of the artists I’ve been seeing collaborating with Travis Barker & DTA Records. One artist who I’ve been listening to constantly has been Lil Lotus. He’s catchy, he’s honest and his production has been spot on, but that’s also due to John Feldman who I noticed produced his newest album.
Although I recall a conversation with my mom not too long ago which explains so much about my music. My mother and aunt co-owned a dance studio. So, I heard so much variety thanks to them from musicals to jazz music and so on. My father listened to a lot of doo wop & golden era rock n roll. I would always borrow his cassette tapes to listen to the singers on there. My uncle would listen to a lot of Motown, blues and r&b, then my brother and my older cousins got me into a lot of the heavier things such as metal, alternative, grunge and so on. To cap it off, I would also listen to a lot of hip hop and rap thanks to my peers and especially once I went away to college, I delved so deep into hip hop and rap, that that opened my ears to something new as well. Music is truly my life and I’m blessed to have been surrounded by so much of it and versatile genres and styles. THAT is what makes me who I am today when it comes to music, production and anything in the realm of the music industry.”
As we keep noting, a unique and varied background has really helped him grow into the sound he now has today.
To this point, we’ve learned a lot about how Michaels got here and what has influenced the style and sound of Spooky Goth Music. Now, we turn our focus to what the future holds and what his goals are.
“Continue to level up my career as an artist whether it’s with my music, dancing, or acting, but constantly being a better version of myself yesterday. I was born an artist and will forever continue this career path. I often tell my friends and family: “When it’s my time to go, I’ll look back at my life and realize I lived the life I wanted to live with no regrets because I made the absolute best of what I was given.”
It’s truly a beautiful mission from him and genuine goals often yield the most positive results. We find his story to be interesting and inspiring and his music is a joy to listen to. However, before we let him go, we gave him the opportunity to explain why music fans should check out his stuff.
“Somewhere out there someone will be able to relate to it and say “Damn man, I feel you”. I created this music as a cathartic release for my emotions so when people hear it, they won’t feel so alone because I can write it just as if they’ve felt it. Stay rad, it’s okay to be sad.
Spooky Goth Music is absolutely an artist to watch and you can follow along with the links below and support him going forward.