Johnny Drille paid a visit to Pulse studio where he got to talk about his career success, Jon Bellion and how he sold himself to Don Jazzy.
From the city popularly known for its red sands and ancient history, Benin, came the young and talented music star, John Vincent Ighodalo also known as Johnny Drille whose vocal talent has remained a mystery to many.
From his voice to his simple character, Johnny Drille’s presence at our studio on Monday, September 16, 2019, for the first time gave him away as the everyday ‘nice guy’ you’d love to have as your buddy.
We sat down to talk about his music from the scratch, meeting Don Jazzy, how the success story of his career and his recent meeting with Jon Bellion – a video from that meeting fans have watched a million and one times. Drille also revealed how Bellion sent him his private phone number so they can be in touch with each other. Though he could hardly stare at the camera all through the interview, Johnny was relaxed enough to even make us laugh all through the interview.
For Johnny, 2019 has been a really great year for him following some super moves like dropping not one, not two but five songs! This has also come with an increased fan base.
Being a first caller at the Pulse studio we wanted to find out how Drille met Don Jazzy and was able to ink a record deal at one of Africa’s biggest record labels, Mavin.
“Well, the first Johnny Drille song Jazzy ever heard or the first time Jazzy ever heard music from Johnny Drille was a cover of D’ja’s song, I’m guessing, he has never really told me. I guess that should be the question I should ask him ‘How did you hear about my music?…it could have been ‘Love Don’t Lie’ because the day after I dropped the cover for D’ja’s song was the day I got a message from Jazzy and he was like’ i love what you did with that music, how old are you? Are you based in Lagos? Are you in school?’ and all that, that was February 2015. That was the first time he contacted me about anything music.
“I was really excited and about that time I probably had like 1300 followers and Jazzy was messaging me…the real Don Jazzy verified and it was awesome. Anyways we got talking…initially I was like hey he is about to sign me because at that time I think he just signed Korede, Reekado, and D’ja in 2014 and I was like OMG he is about to sign me too but that didn’t happen until years on,” he said.
Not hearing from Don Jazzy for months didn’t deter Johnny as he kept on sending the music mogul messages, some of which he replied and others he didn’t. Luck finally came his way in 2016 when Jazzy hit him up again and requested to meet him.
Experimenting and dabbling into the popular Nigerian music for Johnny Drille is something he would love to do even though he doesn’t plan to go wild and too experimental about it.
One thing Johnny Drille has become famous for, is his ability to take an amazing song, tweak it, and give a different feel. Every time he has done a cover for an original song, lovers and critics of music do not only applaud his courage and versatility but his ability to own such song.
“Covers have always been a thing I love to do… I know a lot of people will be like ‘hey why are you always doing covers?’ The first song that got me into the limelight was a cover song. It just beautiful when you can interpret an already existing song your own way. I guess that’s what buys people, that’s what draws people to my songs. It’s like an interpretation, you’ve heard it before, you already love it but it’s just another perspective,” he said.
We couldn’t wait to ask the Mavin star how he met and became friends with American musician, Jon Bellion.
“This is how I like to look at it in my head. I’m the only Nigerian Jon Bellion…I’m just kidding. Jon Bellion loves Nigerians and he knows that he has a lot of fans. I have been a fan since 2015. I have forgotten how I found his music, I think I was on youtube all through that day…in 2017, I did a cover for ‘All Time Low’ one of my favourite Jon Bellion songs and I uploaded it on my Instagram and I didn’t even tag him and I guess some people in the comments tagged him,” he revealed.
Jon Bellion following Johnny Drille on Instagram was the beginning of an amazing friendship as they started chatting back and forth until a few months after when he got a surprise response from Bellion himself.
“I tweeted at him asking him when he was going to bring his concert to Nigeria and he said not until I open for him at his concert.”
The two finally met in the United States of America in 2019 when he (Johnny Drille) showed up for an event and it happened that Jon Bellion was touring at that time.
“I texted him and had my passes at the gate…got there, went backstage and met Jon Bellion,” he said. Johnny Drille also revealed that he would be opening for Jon Bellion at some of the international music star’s concert but refused to let the cat out of the bag.
Despite being a pop artist, this didn’t stop Drille from selling out his concerts back in December 2018 in Abuja where he had over 1500 fans in attendance and another one in Lagos with fans numbering 3000 in attendance. This year Johnny plans to have a repeat but this time round he would be adding a third city – Benin City.
Before rounding off his interview session, Johnny Drille revealed that he would have ended up as a teacher if he hadn’t become a musician!