‘Get Back’ by Johnny Burgos | Interview

Uncategorized February 21, 2024

‘Get Back’ by Johnny Burgos | Interview

Exclusive track premiere of ‘Get Back’ by Johnny Burgos.

I truly believe that there’s no wound a good R&B song can’t heal. Underneath stories of heartbreak and gut wrenching chord progressions, there’s an underlying optimism that keeps us returning to the genre time and time again. In his most recent single, ‘Get Back,’ Johnny Burgos harnesses that power of R&B to construct an anthem about moving on but keeping the memories alive.

Burgos recruited veteran producer Jeremy Page to help bring some musical closure to his breakup with a longtime partner. Burgos recalls, “We’ve all been in a failing relationship that we wished we could save by simply going back in time, when the presence of love was all we needed.” In this Dilla meets Smokey Robinson single, Burgos and Page explore the sonic landscape that comes with that kind of heartache. Chime-y electric piano chords swirl around an irresistible bass and drum groove. And over all these layers and textures, Burgos’ beautiful voice fits like a glove.

This production duo makes a perfect vibe seem effortless. The chord changes are surprising and provide momentum as the song moves from verse to chorus and back again. Burgos sings, “Baby let’s remember the magic that we both believed in.” It’s these vulnerable confessions that provide the song’s beating (and bleeding) heart. We feel Johnny’s pain. We feel that sense of loss. We feel the hope that one day love will feel right again.

Paul Simon once sang, “Medicine is magical and magical is art.“ In his own quest for healing, Johnny Burgos has given us all a spoonful of medicinal R&B with ‘Get Back’. Cry your eyes out! Fall to the floor in a puddle! But, don’t forget to wake up tomorrow and try it all again.

“Making music has always been an act of healing”

Has making music always been an act of healing for you? How did writing and recording ‘Get Back’ help you overcome a pretty significant breakup?

Johnny Burgos: I’m pretty sure most of our initial connections to music involve some sort of healing, but as a maker of music, it’s always been a cathartic process for me. In multiple ways too. Some ideas provide some escapism, which can allow me the distance to process whatever’s on my mind or sometimes it’s head-on and confronting the feelings by using them as the vessel for the song. To answer the question directly, yes, making music has always been an act of healing. Whether directly or indirectly.

Second answer… Jeremy sent me this idea on my birthday, so I was already in my feelings on some existential shit and I think the chords just spoke to an emotional weight that I was still dragging behind. I feel like this song was my vessel for some serious closure. Closure regarding ending the longest and most intimate relationship of my adult life. I was able to create from feelings that once felt too heavy to process, which I now had enough space from to see otherwise and do so without the pain still attached. I think Get Back explores a vulnerability concerning romantic relationships that almost everyone can relate to at some point. We’ve all been in a failing relationship that we wished we could save by simply going back in time when the presence of love was all we needed. But of course, real, resilient love requires constant care and commitment, which isn’t always easy to keep up. I also wanted to celebrate the good moments between us, as there were many, and I think it’s important to look back on past relationships in their full form and not only focus on what went wrong. I think we both encouraged a lot of growth in each other and for that, I’m forever grateful. It also inspired an incredible batch of songs that I’m excited to share, so that’s a win in my book.

Have you worked with Jeremy Page before? Did it feel the same this time around, or did it feel just like old times?

Jeremy and I have been ships passing in the night for years now. However, our first official collaboration was a 2021 remix of my song ‘The Grey,’ which featured his long-time co-collaborator Kendra Morris. From the get-go, the musical chemistry was strong, so we took a shot at writing some original tunes. Since then, we’ve locked in on a creative groove and churned out a bunch of material. As we learned how to complement each other’s musical strengths, the project took on more form and purpose, exploring heavier subject matter and expanding its range of genres. I’m pretty sure that’s what makes this project so fun for us, and possibly what the early gatekeepers and listeners resonated with most. Neither of us expected such a reception to the music, which only made us more excited to hone in with more intention towards a goal. This also allowed me to bring more raw ideas to the table and have the confidence in Jeremy to hear the potential, and then work his magic to extrapolate on my foundation. The teamwork in this effort was inspiring as we listened and referred to each other in every step of the process, and had a crew of killer musicians on deck for when we needed the extra feels on some joints.

There are some pretty classic sounds and textures on the song, but they feel very fresh and new. How did you and Jeremy walk that fine line between nostalgia and living in the present?

Although he’ll never admit it, Jeremy is truly a master of his craft, which is producing and engineering music that is equally novel and nostalgic. I truly believe that our working together was meant to be as I’ve been searching for collaborators to seamlessly blend these worlds with for years now. I think the creative chemistry we found here is something rare and magical and despite our difference in approach sometimes, we shared the desire to create music that has a timelessness to it but still engages people with a current relevance. Sonically, it was mostly live instrumentation recorded at Jeremy’s studio in Brooklyn, where we would often process a lot of it using analog techniques to capture the nostalgic tones and textures, including real tape processing. We’d then take it back into the box and finish the editing and mixing process in Pro Tools . Vocals worked out similarly too but we did a great job of staying out of each other’s way, checking ego, and letting each other lead with our strengths, so the songwriting was something I normally handled and then referred to Jermey for feedback and vice versa. Lyrically, a lot came naturally, which again is a testament to the chemistry here, as Jeremy’s production often evokes big feelings so I would just let the music talk to me. Then as I refined the ideas, I tried to walk that same line of novelty meets nostalgia and unpack what I was feeling in a way that almost anyone could relate to but also felt vulnerable, authentic, and honest. For the most part, we got really lucky and didn’t have too many big things we disagreed on, and now we have a record that we’re both proud of. Hard to beat!

What do you hope listeners take away from ‘Get Back?’

We worked super hard on this record and hope it reconnects our listeners to being human in a visceral way. It’s accessible, honest, and soulful because I wanted it to speak to anyone who still wants music to relate to. Music to help you through the valleys, to celebrate the peaks, and handle everything in between. It’s a journey of the soul that explores ego, insecurity, love, lust, loss, survival, enlightenment and trusting the process. It’s truly ‘All I Ever Wonder’.

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