Matt U. Johnson; Jamaican Reggae, R&B, EDM and Hip Hop

Jamaican American actor, musician and producer Matt U. Johnson released his new single and video on Friday. He is preparing for a tour around the UK by the end of the month.

Johnson was born and raised as a Jamaican American in New York City. His father used to do “Reggae Under the Stars” in the 1980’s, which what exposed him to music. Aside from that, being born and raised in a city like New York, where you have different types of music and culture, is what inspired Johnson into creating his own sound – a combination of pop, R&B, EDM, Reggae and Hip Hop. Artists like Sean Paul, Tiesto, Calvin Harris and Sonique were his inspiration.

Photo by Antonio Villaseñor-Baca

He arrived five years ago to El Paso, TX, with his parents, since his father is a physician and he was doing his residency in El Paso and Cd. Juárez, and decided to come live here. He surprisingly started getting more solid opportunities in El Paso than he would in bigger cities, like LA, which pushed him into wanting to stay in the city. He was getting booked for military, “Go Army” commercials, as an actor, as well national roles in Gossip Girl, and The Sophomore with Bruce Willis. He was also getting booked for Minerpalooza, Generation 2000, and Fiesta De Las Flores, in El Paso, among others.

“The local scene is growing,” Johnson said. “From when I came here to now, it seems to be growing here in El Paso and they have a lot of new people coming up, that’s on an international scene that’s blown up, that’s gotten grammy nominations. People doing so well. El Paso’s on the rise.”

Photo by Antonio Villaseñor-Baca

Also, Johnson has collaborated in his mother’s home country, Jamaica, specifically with Grammy nominated producer, Paul Hampton, who is actually from Johnson’s mother’s hometown, Harbor View, Jamaica. He has also collaborated with Jamaican artist Buju Bonton as well as Steve Paul.

Combining acting and music, for Johnson, is the same idea, as far as having to perform, you have to create a character, he says.

“You have to really be creative in both parts,” Johnson said. “Because, in acting, you have to play a role, most of the times not yourself, so you have to be artistic to be able to put on a different role . . . you’ve got to change personas, so it’s an art in itself. And music is artistic too. You’ve got to play instruments; you’ve got to vocalize; you’ve got to feel different emotions in different songs, so it’s like playing a different role in an acting part.”

Photo by Antonio Villaseñor-Baca

The video for Johnson’s new single was shot in El Paso, TX, in the Willows, showcasing the idea of getting out of your comfort zone and going out to have fun with your significant other. Johnson said that he wanted to give the video a Caribbean feeling to the setting to add to the feeling of having fun.

“In this song, Get Up, what I’m writing about is spending time with your significant other,” Johnson said. “You know, just spending time with your girl and having a good time and showing your appreciation. So, if you see the video, you see that it’s just a simple setting, you know, we try to make it look kind of like Hollywood a little bit, but we kept it simple.”

The idea in the video is to portray something simple and realistic, according to Johnson; that big, fun parties don’t always have to be in huge mansions or hidden places that nobody has ever seen, but they can just be anywhere.

“I think that a lot of these people nowadays are just doing, like, over extravagant, and you know, helicopters coming in,” Johnson said. “You know, we try to make it as realistic as possible . . . It’s not all about the glamour.”

In contrast with other mainstream artists, Johnson said that his music tries to be simpler and have positive messages.

“I go off positive energy and good vibrations,” Johnson said. “A lot of people now are going in opposite directions, you know. There’s a lot of people just talking about drugs, you know, and we try to keep it mainstream and keep it realistic at the same time.”

The Jamaican American artist has now released ten singles and an EP in 2015. His new single called “Get Up (feat. Treyy G.)” is now available to stream along with video, and he is getting ready for his tour in the UK, and will also be performing in Neon Desert Music Festival.

By Aimée Santillán

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