Photograph by Rob Thorsen
“I ended up capturing a bunch of vocal takes that I really love,” says soul-jazz singer Steph Johnson.
Not worried about being perfect “We did 10 songs, and we booked the studio (Tritone in Glendale) for two whole days, which gave us enough time to incorporate a few arrangements from [pianist] Josh Nelson, and a few from [bassist, husband] Rob Thorsen, and for the rest, we had enough time to explore different ideas in the moment with everybody’s input,” says soul-jazz vocalist Steph Johnson about the sessions that produced her latest album So In Love.
So In Love, which also features guitarist Anthony Wilson, drummer Richard Sellers, and trumpeter Chris Lawrence, is Johnson’s fifth album. It represents her victory against a particularly virulent disease that had her bedridden for several months prior to the recording sessions in November.
“There was zero pressure on me — because I had been sick with asthmatic bronchitis for four months, I knew that all my vocal parts might need to be re-done — so I approached it like I was recording ‘scratch-tracks’ for everything. I ended up capturing a bunch of vocal takes that I really love, because I was so relaxed and so in the moment and I allowed myself to try things I normally wouldn’t, because I wasn’t worried about being perfect. It was almost like a live performance, and with those cats it was really magical. Something happened in this recording — first of all, I’ve gotten through the sickness — I’ve had a major turnaround with my health and I was really able to be fully in the moment.”
What’s next for Johnson?
“I’m working on a little video this week . Actually, I’m going to release one of the songs, and then I’m going to set up a GoFundMe page to cover the costs of the licensing and the production. I want to put some on vinyl and some on CD. As soon as I raise the money, I hope to release it in February. That’s my goal.”
What does she think the best part of being a musician in San Diego might be?
“After pursuing this career for almost 20 years through all kinds of groups and in all kinds of venues, I feel like I’ve finally found my voice in San Diego, and having a weekly gig at the Westgate every Saturday for a year has been really great. It’s the best little listening room in San Diego. I feel really supported.”