Teen chases popstar dream

Newtown singer and daughter of Bulldogs champion Brad Johnson, Ella Johnson, aka Ella J.

By Luke Voogt

At 17-years-old Newtown’s Ella Johnson is creating smooth sounds beyond her years.

The daughter of Western Bulldogs hall-of-famer Brad Johnson has just released her second single during her final year of school, and a pandemic.

“I feel like it’s going pretty well, considering the whole lockdown thing,” said Johnson, known in the music world as Ella J.

“I think it’s going to be challenging. I was kind of hoping that things would ease a bit by September.

“But there’s not really much we can do about it, so we’ve just got to take it as it comes.”

While disappointed she could not play her new tracks for a live audience, she said the pandemic had a silver lining for new artists too.

“People are at home, they’re listening to more music and they’ve got more time on their hands to explore what’s out there online.”

In March, Johnson released her debut single Goodbye Player, a track with a smooth ’90s R&B vibe based on a past relationship.

“We were just very different people,” she said.

“It’s about people taking advantage of you, then discovering yourself and leaving a pretty shitty situation.”

A few weeks ago she dropped her second single, Woman (Oh-la-la), a track about being an “independent woman” and “scrapping” fake friends and negativity.

“Woman is about coming out, being me and leaving all that negativity behind, and going for what I believe in,” she explained.

And she plans to do exactly that while studying year 12 at Sacred Heart College.

“For this year my goal was at least four new tracks,” she said.

“I’ve got one locked down for September – I haven’t even written it yet, so I’ve got no idea what it’s going to be about.”

Johnson began singing as a toddler, serenading her parents in the car, her bedroom and “anywhere else”, she said.

“I’ve been singing for as long as I could.”

At age nine Johnson went to a Kelly Clarkson concert and the American Idol winner’s stage presence blew her away, inspiring her popstar dream.

After years of encouragement from her parents, her dad reached out to fellow former Bulldogs player and gifted singer Bob Murphy, who put them in touch with a Sydney producer.

“It was a very good opportunity,” she said.

“It was what I needed to get my stuff out there.”

She now creates music in online sessions with producers Rob Amoruso and Liz Webber.

“I go in with ideas and lyrics and things like that,” she said.

“We spend the week coming up with the melodies and beats and then we compose it altogether.”

About a month away from her 18th birthday, Johnson is doing “pretty good” amid remote learning, and hopes to study a Bachelor of Music at Melbourne’s JMC Academy next year.

“I like the home-schooling side of things because I’m not very into school,” she said.

“It allows me to be more creative and focus on my music.”

Her dad, while one of the greatest Bulldogs players of all time, was probably not the source of her singing talent, she revealed.

“He can try [to sing] but he’s not very good,’ she laughed.

“He just does it to embarrass us.”

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