Artist Spotlight: Johnathan Rice

February 5, 2019

We are so very excited for our first of three upcoming Artist Spotlight posts, highlighting the newest artists, designers, and writers in our RCC family. We love these short interviews, because it gives us a chance to dip a toe into the minds of such brilliant creative forces.

First up: Johnathan Rice. A singer, producer, and writer living in Los Angeles, Rice has spent his adult life inhabiting different corners of the entertainment industry. Signed to Reprise Records at the age of nineteen, His debut record “Trouble Is Real” arrived in 2005, the same year he played Roy Orbison alongside Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash in Walk The Line. He spent the next ten years making records and touring the world.

In 2016, Rice started posting haiku poems on Instagram. The haikus gained a rabid following and led to the publishing of Rice’s first Book Farewell, My Dudes: 69 Dystopian Haikus by LA’s Hat & Beard Press. It became the fastest selling book in the company’s history, buoyed by celebrities like Mandy Moore and Anne Hathaway’s “readings” of their favorite haikus on Instagram and Rice’s appearances in bookstores, comedy clubs and concert venues nationwide. W Magazine called Rice “the beat poet of the Instagram generation.”

Photo by Silvia Grav

Do you remember being an writer as a child? Do you have a specific memory of when you really knew what you wanted to do?
I always remember being interested in words and particularly the combination of words and music.  I always thought of sentences in a melodic and rhythmic way.  I grew up between Virginia and Scotland, and I think that made me very conscious of the different ways people speak and all the varieties of accents, slang, patois, etc. I always pretended that I was a musician, and then eventually I became the thing I was pretending to be.  I loved the musicians who took daring risks with their lyrics: Shane MacGowan, Dylan, Townes Van Zandt.  Even though I’ve spent the majority of my adult life as a musician, I think at my core I’m really a writer above all other things.  

Who or what is your greatest inspiration?
There is a feeling inside me that I come into contact with sometimes. It’is somewhat elusive.  It’s not happiness or sadness or something I can even fully describe. When I am inspired, I am in contact with that feeling and everything feels right.  I felt it when I was a child, and I can still feel it now. I don’t know what it is. Do you?

Photo by Silvia Grav

Tell us about your writing process. In terms of creative work–is time spent working more spontaneous or do find that it is regimented like a job?
It’s both. Sometimes the best writing is very spontaneous and comes from an unconscious place. However, some ideas are meant to be explored beyond that initial flash of inspiration and chased around until one can fully understand and possess them. It’s a somewhat mystical thing, and I think that’s why so many artists are superstitious. Bad writing is also very important. You gotta write some real garbage sometimes. 

You are very successful in a wide variety of mediums including music and film. What is your favorite and why? Or do they each serve important elements of your life?
I don’t have a favorite. I consider whatever medium I’m working in to be part of the same body of work. I feel very lucky to have experienced so many different modes of expression. 

Photo by Silvia Grav

What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“To live outside the law you must be honest”

Any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
I have a new record called The Long Game that’s coming out this summer.  I’m very proud of it.

Obligatory Red Cap question: favorite drink?
Gin and Tonic.

Thank you so much, Johnathan! To view more of Johnathan’s cards for RCC, visit his shop page here, or click over to his website, here.