Dark Matter: Johnny Darko talks about his new EP & why it’s his most authentic release ever
Toronto, ON – Toronto artist Johnny Darko recently teamed up with Cream to release this new three-track EP titled Dark Matter, as well as this new video release for “Double Cup.”
Dark Matter is Johnny Darko’s rawest release to date. The EP has a distinctly spacey, intergalactic vibe; and serves as an undefined body of work. Dark Matter is simply Johnny Darko being Johnny Darko, with no emphasis on making a certain type of sound of trying to adhere to what his fans want to hear.
As the EP plays out, Johnny gets deeper and deeper into self-reflection. By the time the EP’s final song – “Black Kimono” – kicks off, Johnny is knee-deep in rehashing his past relationships and examining his life from a third-person perspective.
With assistance from Cream on the production side of things, Johnny delivers a space-rap vibe with a very introspective undertone. It’s the same smoked-out brand of music we’re used to hearing from Johnny. Except it goes beyond that. Johnny’s flung himself above his signature cloud raps, and further up past the earth’s atmosphere.
Stream Dark Matter below via SoundCloud, scope the video for “Double Cup” after the jump, and check out our in-depth interview with Johnny.
Video: Double Cup
Q&A: Johnny Darko
Photo by @debehindthescene
HipHopCanada: Start off by telling me about the significance of this project to you on a personal level.
Johnny Darko: I have actually been sitting on this project for well over a year now but I always felt like it was sort of timeless. So I felt no real rush to release it right away. When I set out to make this project, I really just wanted to try and open myself up more and explore a completely different theme and feeling then what I had been releasing. I really just wanted to challenge myself and sort of break out of whatever box I seemed to be putting myself in. And remind my fans I make a spectrum of music, and as an artist will never remain in one lane to an extent.
HipHopCanada: Talk to me about this “other side of Johnny Darko” that you’re conveying on this project. This project seems much more aligned with your spiritual and emotional self.
Johnny Darko: Yeah. I mean that was really my main goal with Dark Matter; to just forget about any scene or genre. And just make music that really represented where my heart and head is, despite where it may seem like it’s at sometimes according to my Twitter feed or most recent single sort of thing. I feel like Dark Matter is the first time I’ve fully gave my fans the real raw Johnny that is “Johnny Darko.”
HipHopCanada: Explain the title Dark Matter, and what it represents.
Johnny Darko: Dark Matter as a title is sort of just a play on words. Dark [is like] Darko. [And] matter [refers to] my heart and soul kind of thing. It represents what I am made of; which at the end of the day is “matter.”
HipHopCanada: How did the collaboration with Cream come about for this whole project?
Johnny Darko: Creamie has been looking out for me since pretty much day one in this game… whether it was playing my tracks in mixes or at parties, having me host events, getting me shows, eventually even teaching me how to DJ myself, and obviously keeping me fed with beats. When we started the idea for Dark Matter though it was after an event he had been spinning and we were just out side politicking and smoking. And we both were just sort of like “Bruuuh! We need to do something completely different then anything else we’ve ever done!” After the first studio session or maybe even before, we had decided on a super spacey theme. And then it sort of all just came together in maybe two weeks total; for everything… starting with the beats, including lyrics and titles, ending in visuals.
HipHopCanada: Talk to me about what each track represents, both as a stand-alone single as well as within the context of the entire EP.
Johnny Darko: “Nebula” is the first song on the project. And if I remember correctly, actually the first track we made for Dark Matter. Knowing it was going to be the intro to the project we wanted to really get across everything that Dark Matter was supposed to represent: outer space, effects, emotions, and lyrics. The second track being “Double Cup” is definitely the most upbeat track of the three. So it just made the most sense we used it for visuals. “Double Cup” has a special spot in my heart on this project because of its balance of my double-time flow, and playing with melodies to make a more polished sound. All through it’s a lot bouncier then the rest of the project. I feel like it’s an important fit because it stays true to the whole cloud rap vibe I have been known for, but fits nicely alongside the more melodic, slower songs. Finally “Black Kimono.” Arguably the spaciest of the three tracks. Wraps the project up perfectly and drives home the theme of Dark Matter. This is actually my personal favorite. After listening to these songs non-stop for a year. Parts of “Black Kimono” are direct references to an old girlfriend and the way our initial romance was. And other parts are sort of an out-of-body look back at my life from a very third-person point-of-a-view; as if I was asleep, watching my life from outer space.
HipHopCanada: This project really has a space vibe to it. Was that an intentional thing you and Cream set out to do? How did you approach making that kind of sound?
Johnny Darko: Creamie and I are both space nerd sci-fi kids. So it was a no-brainer that when we worked on a project together it would be space themed. I have to say he absolutely killed the production on this. I asked for intergalactic space sounds and he sent me a beat pack with three beats he had made he thought would be a good fit. And I loved all three immediately. As for how we approached making the sound… we kind of just went into the studio with the mindset of experimenting. And effects, effects and more effects. Whether it was on the samples in the beat, the vocals, or filters on the video… we just knew we would have to try something outside our normal formula.