The Rotor Blog

Musician Series: Johnathon Norris

In this interview with Canadian songwriter Johnathon Norris he shares what inspires him, the biggest challenges facing artists today, and more.

Johnathon Norris, Singner/Songwriter

Johnathon is a musician from Canada. He started playing music when he was 16 and has been in multiple bands. Now, he is branched off to a solo career and does a lot of recording in his personal studio from his home. He is mainly a songwriter and performs all of the compositions himself. He love creating and also producing music.

What inspires you to be a musician? 

I have always loved music since I was a kid. It really started to get a hold of me around the 7th grade when I would get albums for my birthdays and Christmas. Smashing Pumpkins, SilverChair, Oasis all were major parts of my adolescence and I have tried to continue in that vein of music to capture the same magic that would now be considered classics. I would like to create music that can stand the test of time and really make you feel something emotionally.

What is the best part about being a musician? 

The best part for me is the entire creative process. You basically start with something as simple as a tune in your head and by the end you have an entire song with multiple parts and dynamics. Writing music and it manifesting into something tangible is the ultimate satisfaction as it allows you to express yourself in a not so straightforward way.

What is your favourite venue for gigs? 

Last year I had the opportunity to play at a historical theatre located in Ontario called The Sanderson Centre. This venue has had many important figures perform over the years and it was extremely special to be able to perform on the same stage that some of my idols have played on.

What is the biggest challenge you have as a musician today? 

I’d say the biggest challenge is definitely getting people to hear your music. So much effort goes into creating a song or an album, sometime years of your life and it is a challenge to get people to spend 4 minutes to listen to it. It takes a lot of dedication and a lot of patience but will pay off in the end if you are persistent.

Do you think the industry is changing for the better? 

The industry is always changing. Whether it’s for the better is still yet to be determined. The market is so saturated now as making music is so accessible to everyone with the way computers are and the internet. But on the other hand there is a lot of good stuff coming through you just need to look for it.

What are the three tools you could not live without?

1.    Obviously my guitar. This is where the song starts and is the first tool you go to when starting to write a song. 
2.    Music. Listening to music is a huge motivation for me to create my own. It has always been a huge inspiration to me. 
3.    Home Studio. Without my own recording set up I would not be able to capture the music that I create. Even if it’s just quickly laying down a riff or a melody. 

Are there any new apps you have discovered and would like to recommend to other musicians?

One app I use a lot is Voice Record. It’s basically a personal recorder on your phone. It’s great for when you ’t have access to a computer but you need to record something before it disappears from your mind.

How do you find opportunities to gig?

Most of the time it’s from online. Just stay social and try to always keep yourself in the loop. Follow local restaurants and bars and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for opportunities. Also talk to as many people as you can about what you do and what you are trying to achieve.

What are your fondest musical memories? Eg. In your house? In your neighbourhood or town?

I remember my first band in high-school we booked our first gig. It was a small dance club in our hometown. We were so excited. They put our band name “Ages of Yellow” on the marquee sign out front. We played and the club ended up closing down a few weeks later. Our name stayed up on the sign for years. It was great advertising.

How do you reach your fans?

Mainly by social media. Youtube, Instagram and Facebook. Also word of mouth does a lot. Tell every person you come across about your music and where to find it online.

What is it that compels you to publish music?

It’s something that will last forever. The music you make will still be here long after you’re gone. And your kids or grandkids will still be able to hear your voice and remember you.

What are your thoughts on streaming services?

It’s the way it is now and it’s never going back. It’s here to stay so you might as well embrace it. The majority of people don’t buy music anymore they stream it. Get on some playlists and post links to your stuff every chance you get.

What is something you wish you had known sooner?

I wish I had realized time was going to be my biggest obstacle. I started music when I was 16 with high hopes of making it my career. Then as you become an adult, life sort of hits you and takes over. Music kind of goes to the aide and the next thing you know 20 years has gone by and you decide you want to get into music again. The amount you could have accomplished during that span is mind boggling. 

Are you actively looking for record labels? Do you think it could be a good option?

Yes I have sent out many e-mails to labels probably 30 or more and do not even get responded back to. Nobody wants anything to do with you until your wanted by someone else. You have to probe yourself first if you want to get signed.

How do you balance your music with other passions - partner, children, job?

I try to spend any free time I get doing music. After work, late at night. You have to make the time for it if at the end of the day you are serious about having a brand and a product. 

We hope you enjoyed reading Johnathon's story and experiences as much as we did. To learn more, follow him on Instagram at

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