If you've rocked out to Bliss N Eso, downloaded the Local Fire playlist through Spotify or even flown Tiger Air recently, chances are you have already heard the inspiring lyrics of 27-year-old Johniepee. What you may not realise is where these lyrics actually came from and the story behind the rapper who has a pretty inspiring story of his own with his upbringing in the Sydney suburbs through to a text message that saved a friends life.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name's John but you may know me as Johniepee, if you don’t you do now haha!
I’m from the Northern Suburbs of Perth Western Australia but had been living in Sydney for the last 6 years!
I’m 27, Singer/Songwriter/Rapper, Disability Carer, Personal Trainer and Public Speaker where I visit schools and speak on resilience and run rap writing workshops.
I pretty much grew up just with myself and my mum, however due to her mental health battles I ended up living with many different families (Friends from school, Family friends etc) including my own extended family, so everyone really had a turn in raising me, the whole quote about how “It takes a village to raise a child” really rings true in my life.
When did you first really start getting into music?
I’ve always been into music, my family on both sides are pretty musical and family jam sessions on birthdays, Christmas etc weren’t uncommon. My mum is a guitarist and a singer, my other aunties are both music teachers and multi-instrumentalists, they even had a trio that would perform at weddings back in the day haha!
My Nan and Grandpa both played piano and we’d always have singalongs from as early on as I can remember. But I decided to take music seriously in 2015 when I was 23.
How important is to you and your mental health to have a creative outlet such as music?
It’s essential. I split my outlets between music and training (I’ve been a personal trainer for about 6 years). Training allows me to let out my pent up physical energy, release stress and centre myself.
Music allows me to dig deep within myself to release and heal old hurts, it also allows me to be anything I want to be, I feel free when I write.
I remember countless nights growing up where everything seemed to fall apart, I’d grab my hoodie and my headphones, find the track that spoke to my soul in that moment - the soundtrack if you will - and just play it on repeat so I could really tap into those feelings and by the time I’d get back to wherever I was staying I’d usually have a game plan moving forward.
I think I had numbed myself to a lot when I was younger so music helped me conjure up emotions and feel something.
We’re guessing the music industry is pretty cut-throat, what are some of your self-care strategies you use dealing with the pressures?
Yeah it definitely can be but I make sure I allow myself time to relax and switch off, even though I find that super hard to do.
My self care strategies would be:
Eating well and staying hydrated regardless of whether I’m on tour or at home.
I don’t drink alcohol anymore and I don’t even drink coffee, so I can’t mask how I’m feeling or boost myself with pick me ups, which brings me to my next point.
Making sure I get enough sleep!
Reminding myself that it’s okay to not respond to every DM or message straight away - even though I promise to respond to every DM I get!
Surrounding myself with people that don’t suck my energy.
Listening to my body which I suck at this one sometimes! If I feel run down, I skip the gym and allow myself time to recover properly. There’s no point in booking shows if you rock up sick and give a 50% performance.
How do you mentally prepare yourself just before each show?
I already know the outcome, I know I’ll smash whatever is put in front of me, It’s just a matter of knowing this is what I was put on the planet to do.
I learnt long ago that everything on the other side of the fear is always positive, so when I feel fear or nervous excitement, I acknowledge it, feel the feelings and do it anyway because not once has there ever been a negative on the other side of conquering something in my life.
Who is your support crew and how important are they to you?
I have soo many incredible people around me it’s not funny. I have people that will help me out because they believe in my vision as much, if not more than I do and it’s such a blessing.
I have a super supportive partner, family and friends and people who will put me up when I’m in their city and look after me when they don’t need to.
I’ve had conversations with one of my best mates about how I feel I need to do more for others as I feel everyone’s always helping me and I feel I can never repay them, to which he responded “You do, through your music.” “You know how in the Tour De France there’s always a sprinter at the front of the race and he has a peloton of riders behind him, sometimes you can be the sprinter and sometimes you can be the peloton for the guy in front, right now you’re the guy in front.” That was really awesome to hear, knowing I’ll definitely be able to pay it forward down the track.
Tell us a bit about your song, ‘Stay’ . . . .
'Stay' is a song I wrote in 2017 when I was dealing with a lot mentally, I tried to channel my pain into something people could relate to.
The bridge of this song is a text I sent a friend of a friend who was contemplating suicide due to her losing her fiancé’
I thought maybe I was being nosey, but felt if I could do something I would, so I sent her this:
“This life is enough,
This life is the one,
The one where you become, all that you become,
At times it seems frozen,
It’s forever stagnant,
But then you realise right here, right now is only a fragment”
She told me that text saved her life.
Since the songs release, I’ve had countless messages with people telling me how my song gave them perspective enough to stay rather than taking their own lives, which is insane to me that my pain has healed others going through a dark place.
'Stay' has been playing on all domestic Tiger air flights across Australia too, which hopefully means it can touch more lives.
What made you connect with LIVIN charity?
For me, your organisation and message is no nonsense. From the moment I bought my first LIVIN singlet back in 2015, something resonated with me. You're very upfront with your message and don't beat around the bush. I would rather support something that has meaning and starts a conversation.
Have you ever struggled with your own mental health?
Yeah for sure, I’ve dealt with Depression, Anxiety and Panic Attacks when I was younger too.
A heap of my family members have been diagnosed with various mental health conditions, the biggest one impacting my life was my mum being diagnosed with Bi-Polar, PTSD, Anxiety & Depression.
Us humans deal with a lot, so I feel it, I don’t numb, I try to be real with myself and find out why I’m feeling the way I am instead of just going, “Well that’s who I am.” Sure sometimes we can feel down with no apparent reason and that’s perfectly fine, but sometimes if you look hard enough you can find what’s actually setting you off.
What advice would you give someone who is struggling?
You’re the average of the 5 people you hang around. Surround yourself with people you can be real with, you can vent to and they can vent to you. You’ll often find in helping someone else you figure out your own stuff!
Also find a healthy outlet to let off some steam, but don’t let it consume you - Yes you can become obsessive about healthy outlets too!
Don’t numb yourself with Booze, Drugs, Sex, Porn, etc… Feelings are there to be felt.
You’ve already had so many professional achievements under your belt already, touring with Bliss N Eso, reaching the top ten on the international Hip Hop charts, making the ‘Local Fire’ playlist on Spotify and recently, you were announced as one of the artists selected by Tiger Airways to have your song ‘Stay’ played as part of their inflight programming! What’s next?
Yeah I guess I’ve done a heap in the 4 years I’ve been doing this!
Well I’ve just dropped my debut album “Attachment Theory” and am currently on my first solo national headline tour around the country so this year has been massive. The future’s looking bright & busy!
For more on his story, his music and his message, check out @Johniepeeofficial