What figure, song, or quote that compels you to be brave in adversity?
For me, it is Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” and also my favorite anime character, Sailor Moon. I know those two are extremes but they, out of many, have help me to brave in tough situations. I have so many other examples but it would be a really long list.
Jeremie Johnston, an Indian living in United Arabs Emirates, embraces a certain recent figure in recent years as the symbol of bravery in his latest release “Like Latifa”.
I recently conducted an email interview with Jeremie about the song as well his musical career. You can click below to read his answers. You can also listen to his latest release and my current favorite song from him.
You have said that growing up, you performed for many events. How has this shaped you as a performer and an artist?
Growing up, I performed for a variety of events and was exposed to different styles of music. It all depended on what audience or show I had to perform for. This exposure gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of various genres of music. My music today, has influences of various genres that gives it a very special sound. I have even mixed eastern and western sounds together.
To follow up, you are from Indian origin who was raised in Dubai. How have the musical influences from both Dubai and your Indian origins influenced your music?
It has a huge impact on my music! As artists, our biggest weapon is our art. The ammunition to this weapon is our experiences. My experience growing up gay in an Indian family in Dubai is unique and it bleeds through most of my lyrics. I am also deeply influenced by the beautiful music from both these regions which you can hear in some of my tracks today.
What kind of musical genres and artist inspire you?
I listen to all genres. I do not discriminate :). Freddy Mercury from Queen had a huge impact on my life and musical direction. His story and vocal abilities inspire me. From choir sounds to his way with words, he is present like a ghost within my songs. I released two Queen cover songs on YouTube as a tribute to him. Check it out 🙂
How has music inspired you?
It is a hard question to answer because I don’t consider music to be something I discovered and it then changing my life. It has always been there. I have always been singing, I have always written, and I have always listened.
Your latest song, “Like Latifa,” has a deep message of “Every being has the right to be themselves and feel safe to do so.” How did you tie this theme into the lyrics as well as the music?
The character ‘Latifa’ mentioned in the song is the Princess of Dubai. She tried to escape Dubai in early 2018 simply because she wanted the freedom to be herself and not mold herself to what the Kingdom told her to be as a woman. She was captured by her father (ruler of Dubai) during the escape and she has been missing since. You can check out freelatifa.com to get more information about this story and campaign for her freedom.
I see Latifa as a heroine. A brave young woman who fought for her freedom. In the song ‘Like Latifa’ I talk about my experiences growing up in Dubai and wanting to be brave like Latifa.
“Like Latifa” is an empowering song about being brave. What kind of message or inspiration should one take away from this song?
The message is simple yet a hard one. Be brave enough to authentically be you. Don’t let society, religion, culture or your friends/family dictate who you should be. You got one life. How are you going to make the most of it when you not even really you? Think about it.
My favorite track by you right now is “Celebration.” To me, it sounds like it was influenced by Prince and Maroon 5. Am I right or am I crazy? Was there any purpose behind this?
Glad you like it! That song was a result of being on a beach in Sicily, a lot of Italian wine and 3 hours of composing. SONKO (My co-writer and producer) and I did not even realize that this would turn into our first musical release. Prince is an icon and Maroon 5 blows your mind with their songs. I am honoured you are comparing this song to their works.
The song is very reflective of both SONKO’s and my life. We are considered outcasts in the “normal” world. The holiday season has especially been hard for me as it is a time when family members from all over the world come together. For many reasons I do not fit into this group and it has always given me anxiety. So I avoid it all together. The song is about finding your tribe and celebrating with them by being your true self. No matter how weird and different you are, there is always someone out there who accepts and loves you for who you are. Celebrate them and their presence in your life.
What are your plans and goals?
Currently we are making more music. We have a few music videos and online releases coming up in the next couple of months. We will also be touring Europe very soon. Keep an eye on our website and social media platforms to stay updated.
What do you want listeners to listen for when listening to your music?
Just enjoy it. Don’t think too much. Let the music take you to a magical place. Whatever your magical place is…
Finally, what kind of message do you want to say to the readers of ai love music?
Always stay curious. Discover new sounds and music. Looks like you are already on that path. So, bravo!
And finally – Be brave enough to be you. There is only one you, one life, this moment.
You can check out Jeremie’s latest release, “Like Latifa” below and tell me what you think in the comments!
About the Artist
Born in Dubai to a family of Indian origin, Jeremie started performing very early in his life at various events and theatre shows for a wide range of audiences, including The Royal Family.
He was the winner of the first Best Of The Best national singing competition in UAE that further pushed his career as a musician in Dubai.
At age 16, he was introduced to SONKO, a music producer based in Berlin. Together they created songs that caught the attention of BBC in London, UK who invited Jeremie to take part in the finals of The Next Big Thing representing his hometown – Dubai.
Since BBC, Jeremie has been residing in Toronto, Canada where he has been collaborating with various organizations to plan events around themes of diversity and violence prevention.
As an individual who is part of the LGBTQ+ community he understands the unique oppression and issues they face in the region he is from. With the mission to give a voice to this community at large, Jeremie and SONKO are working together and releasing music that gives a voice to the unique stories of LGBTQ+ folk.
You can follow Jeremie Johnson these social media platforms and sites: