Interview by Marie-Pauline Cesari

Presenting the latest release from rising star Johnny Orlando, ‘The Ride: Part 3’, via Universal Music Canada/Republic Records. This marks the final chapter of his compelling exploration of the stages of a relationship, reflecting on the challenges of a failed first love. Dive into a journey of nostalgia, yearning, and romanticization with standout tracks ‘Close To You’ and ‘Thinking Of Me,’ accompanied by captivating visuals. In our exclusive interview, we had the privilege of delving into Johnny’s passions, inspirations, and creative process. Explore our delightful conversation below!

Hi Johnny, happy to meet you! Could you please introduce yourself and describe your musical style?

Hi Numéro, I’m Johnny. I make pop with other little flavors depending on what mood I’m in.

Where does your passion for music come from, and when did you know you would become a singer?

My dad has always loved music despite having 0 musical talent (his words), so I think that part of it runs in the family. I’m not particularly talented either, but I’ve now been working my ass off for 12 years, so I’ve gotten better over time. I kind of fell into all this by accident when I was 8. My sister asked me one day if I would want to sing a song and then post it on the internet, and I was 8 with really nothing else to do, so I said yes. It ended up being kind of fun, so we kept making them until we both fell in love with making music.

If you had to choose one artist, whether alive or deceased, to sing with, who would it be?

My answer for this question changes every time someone asks me, but right now it would be Tyler Childers. I love his voice and the choices he makes while singing things. Would be so cool to watch happen in front of me.

You have won the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Canadian Act for four consecutive years, congratulations! How does this recognition influence your approach to your music and career?

Thank you! It really doesn’t at all, to be honest. I’ve never cared much about awards nor do I go out of my way to try to win them, but this award does mean a lot. It’s fan voted, so it really has nothing to do with me at all. It’s a testament to the dedication and love that my fans show me. Each year I’ve been nominated, we’ve gone up against these huge artists, and every year we’ve won it. It’s insane.

‘The Ride’ trilogy explores the stages of a relationship, from love to hate and confusion. You mentioned going through the three stages of healing after a breakup. Can you elaborate on how the trilogy represents these stages?

Well, the songs essentially represent the stages. Some are more direct, but all were carefully chosen to tell the story. The first stage is that raw emotional period, intense anger and resentment, first at my ex and then at myself. There’s euphoria, followed by anxiety. It was my first time going through a breakup like that, so it felt really strange. My brain felt like it was misfiring for weeks. The second stage is marked by recklessness and naivety, thinking I was more okay than I was. It led to intense guilt and regret. I wasn’t always a good guy, and it took a while to realize not everything was others’ fault. That’s a lesson I apply to all my relationships now. Despite being too hard on myself, I settled into the third stage, true reflection. It was the first time I could see things for how they were, or as close as I ever will. Forgiveness, final goodbyes, and accepting the risk of getting hurt are all part of falling in love. That period taught me so much about myself, love, others, and the world. It sucked, but I’m grateful for the experience.

How did the process of writing and creating music contribute to your personal healing and understanding of the experience? What message do you hope listeners take away from it?

It was as close to therapy as you can get without going to therapy. I was writing almost every day while I was going through all of this, surrounded by artists and writers who were much older and wiser than me. People who know themselves well and know exactly what questions to ask to get to the root of an experience. I poured my heart into these songs, and they did as well. I just hope it all makes people feel seen. Nobody is immune to heartbreak or being a complete mess once in a while. 

Your tattoos are the cover of each part of ‘The Ride’ trilogy, a cowboy with a hoop for the first part and a horse for the second part. Can you share the significance behind these tattoos?

The tattoos reflect the sentiment of each part of The Ride. The cowboy has no idea what the hell is going on, and a horse is strong but doesn’t really know what’s going on either. They’re all metaphors, but I don’t really know, I’m not really into getting all academic about this kind of stuff. It just kind of felt right. When people hear the songs and see the imagery, I think it will make sense to them too.

Do you see tattoos as a cathartic medium, like making music? What is the third tattoo to complete the trilogy?

Not really. It’s all art, but I’m not the artist while I’m getting the tattoo. I’ve always loved the drawing type of art, but I don’t really feel things visually the same way I do with music, in terms of creation. The third tattoo is the set of eyes on my back. True reflection. That one is a bit more on the nose.

Can you share more about the final part of your trilogy and the tracks ‘Close To You’ and ‘Thinking Of Me’? How do these songs bring closure to the concluding chapter of your story?

These songs both feel like goodbyes to me, which is what part three is. “Close to You” is the acknowledgment of everything that went right, and “Thinking of Me” is about how people leave marks on each other. Marks that last a lot longer than any relationship could. I think we’re all kind of products of everyone we’ve ever loved or looked up to.

Your ventures into both television and film have been noteworthy, along with your music career. How has this dual artistic pursuit shaped your creative journey, and do you plan to continue exploring acting in conjunction with your music career?

While I’ve never felt the same passion for acting as I do for music, surprisingly, it has had a more profound impact on shaping me as a person than as an artist. As a really shy kid, I took acting lessons at around 11, and they did help me break out of my shell, even though I despised the experience. I’m not against acting, but I believe I would enjoy it more if it were connected to my music. Given the choice, I’d prefer creating music for movies rather than being in them!

What can fans expect from Johnny Orlando in the future? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations you can give us a glimpse of?

I’m never going to stop making music and touring. I’ll probably write something later today, and I hope to show it to everyone soon. Sending love to all the people reading this.

Also, I’m going on tour in Europe in February… Thanks for having me!