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Johnta Austin - conducted by Dru Hepkins  

Johnta Austin

August 2006

For those of you who don't know Johnta Austin yet, you definitely felt his impact full blast already without even realizing it. Johnta Austin has written hit songs for artists like Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Tyrese, Chris Brown and Jessica Simpson to name a few. In fact he's been involved with many successful songs we know and love before he hit puberty.

The man is now a full grown, decent and well spoken artist that has a nostalgic vibe about him, reminiscent of the days when artists were developed and refined. This mild mannered gentleman is also a very talented tiger hungry to leave his mark.

Johnta Austin backed by Jermaine Dupri's legendary production, has finally began his journey as a solo artist with his debut CD entitled "Ocean Drive".

MVRemix: Looking at your resume, so to speak, it seems you've been blessed by being in the right circles at such a young age. How do you compare your arrival on the scene with other up and coming artists in the grind?

Johnta Austin: It definitely started out with struggle. I started out at 13 being signed to RCA and I lost my deal and was eventually replaced by Tyrese.

MVRemix: Do you have any bitter feelings about that experience?

Johnta Austin: No, absolutely not. I wrote "Sweet Lady" for Tyrese and the whole situation allowed me to jump start my song writing career. I worked on his 3rd album and his current album and he and I are still friends to this day. I was never bitter toward him about the situation and I always understood that business is business. It was harder dealing with the politics of writing good songs and people still not being convinced and still having to prove yourself against the pressures--- like them [labels] preferring to work with the big names until finally hooking up with someone on the level of Jermaine Dupri.

MVRemix: Speaking of him now, how would you describe the experience working with the legendary Jermaine Dupri?

Johnta Austin: Ah man, it's great. Every time we get together I learn something from him. He taught me a lot about the business and creating. It's my personal opinion that he's the greatest R&B producer of the last 15 years and still is. When you talk about longevity, I think it's him and Dr. Dre and everyone is just chasing.

MVRemix: On the subject of hip hop, R&B and longevity, it's been said that the industry is a little stuck right now and there's a lot of copy cat-ism going on. What are your thoughts about the state of hip hop and R&B right now?

Johnta Austin: I'm loving hip hop and I'm very proud that my city [Atlanta] is starting to get recognition now. Nationally, people are starting to take us seriously and appreciate our craft. For the longest time hip hop alienated us and made us work harder.

MVRemix: Off the topic of music for a second---- and with or without the music success, how have the ladies been treating you man?

Johnta Austin: [laughter]

MVRemix: And are you trying to wife anything up or are you out there playing ball like me?

Johnta Austin: Well you know I always had women now. Seriously though, the ladies treat me nice and I always thought if you treat them nice they'll treat you nice too. I've had some nice success with women and I'd like to think it's removed from me being a signed artist because I've been good to them. For the last several years no one knew who I was and I was always behind the scenes and I'm just starting to get known now.

MVRemix: I'm going to flip the topic on you again and ask are you a spiritual person or a religious person or do you have a strong faith in God?

Johnta Austin: I'd have to say to be 26 years old and to have a Grammy and to have had the opportunity that I had, you'd have to be a fool not to. I definitely believe in him and acknowledge him as the one who made all this happen. I don't take myself too seriously, I know he's given me a gift and I'm honored to use it.

MVRemix: For many artists, there are legends and artists who arrived before them that have influenced them and are in many ways responsible for who they are today. Is there any artist that arrived before you that you pay that sort of homage to?

Johnta Austin: It's Marvin Gaye. He's at the top of my list of artists that have influenced me. He embodies everything that the "Ocean Drive" cd that [Jermaine Dupri] and I have created is all about. You know, bold, provocative and unafraid.

MVRemix: You mentioned Marvin as one of the people who helped mold you, is there anyone out today and now who you pay homage to?

Johnta Austin: There's a few but, the King of R&B as far as creativity is definitely R. Kelly. I mean that guy is amazing and never seems to run out of ideas. As far as entertainment and an artist just at the top of his game, that's got to be Usher. He's the king of the hill and definitely on the top of the mountain so that's who I'm chasing right now.

MVRemix: Would that mean you might head in a song and dance direction?

Johnta Austin: Nah, well dancing kind of forgot about me. [Laughter] I'm taking more of a Marvin approach, you know.... just catering to the ladies and just reaching my audience on an emotional and spiritual level.

MVRemix: Is there anyone or anything out right now that you don't like?

Johnta Austin: Well the only fault I have right now is that R&B and Pop nowadays can get too gimmicky at times. A lot of songs sound cool and they're good for the club, but if you really dissect them they don't make any sense. I like good stories and good writing.

MVRemix: What's your life goal or the thing that you want to achieve in music-final?

Johnta Austin: Final. Hmmm. put out a great album, of course sell a lot of records, but touch people. And If I could have the success for myself as the albums that I helped write for others then that would be great. To stand on the Grammy stage for my artistry that would be great too.

MVRemix: Considering your track record, you're not a far shot away. However, what is one of your greatest fears as an artist? Is there anything that would disappoint you?

Johnta Austin: No. No, I'm not afraid of anything. JD and I have a respect and an admiration for Michael Jordan and one of Michael Jordan's commercials has a saying, "I have failed over, and over, and over again and that's why I succeed." With that kind of spirit in mind I'm not afraid to try things and if it doesn't work, ok, let's move on to the next. And one thing that Mariah proved last year is that you are always... one hit away...

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"I'm taking more of a Marvin approach, you know.... just catering to the ladies and just reaching my audience on an emotional and spiritual level."