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David Johnston is the singular voice behind Gift of Tongues, his new forum for creating a “band that was infused with the idea of performance art.” “Performative music,” he explains.
“I perform under masks or wigs and keep my face hidden to distance myself from the more personal narratives of the music,” he elaborates. “The audience can project on me their own ideas of who I am.” “My performance style is aggressive, yet sometimes humorous; I want to be a combination of intimidating and affable – and it’s important for me to convey a personal connection with a listener.” When the SF Weekly reviewed his past shows, it noted the “occasionally hilarious songs, written by Johnston and performed with a hearty, drawling irony.”
Johnston’s creativity is always mysterious, and never atypical. “The writing of a song is such a mercurial process that there is never a standard method,” he says. “Words and melodies come from unexpected places.”
Musically, Johnston has a lot in common with many of the other artists of modern serious music, from the gloomy synth rock of Depeche Mode, to Laurie Anderson’s arty intellectualism. It’s “deeper and darker than a lot of electronica,” says this artist from Mt. Shasta, CA that now calls Brooklyn, New York home. “Yet it’s also relatable and accessible.” In addition to some of his musical heroes, such as The Knife, listeners tell him they hear a lot of Soft Cell, Yello and Goldfrapp in his sound. His current album, Songs of My People, is filled with all his latest music, so listeners can decide for themselves just what they think Gift of Tongues sounds like.
When asked about his music career goals, Johnston responds like any ambitious musician. “I want to perform my music around the country, make videos and make more albums.” In other words, with Gift of Tongues, David Johnston is all about sharing his beautiful, twisted gift.