Interview: Lia Marie Johnson

Lia Marie Johnson
Photo Credit: Max Fairclough

Singer, actress, and YouTube creator Lia Marie Johnson has signed to Capitol Records and released her debut single and video for the label, “DNA,” a deeply personal song about her father’s battle with alcoholism.

Lia first became known to the public via her YouTube channel, followed by roles in the Emmy-winning web series REACT, the most successful web series in history. Last year, the 19-year-old San Diego native was named one of the Top 100 YouTubers in the world.

We had the chance to chat with Lia about her newest musical venture, the subject of alcohol abuse, and what she has planned in the coming months. Read what she has to say below, and watch the video for “DNA” here.

Congrats on the release of your debut single, “DNA.” Up until now, you’ve primarily been known as a YouTube creator. Were you anxious to see how your subscribers and social media fans would react to “DNA,” and the beginning of your singing career? 

I’ve been singing longer than I’ve been on YouTube and I’ve been working on this phase of music for about two years. DNA was written about a year and a half ago so – yes– was definitely anxious to have it out there and have people hear what I’ve been working on for so long.

This is probably the first time you’ve given your fans a look into your personal life. Given the extremely personal subject matter of “DNA,” do you find it hard to perform songs like that live?

Well I haven’t performed it live just yet but of course when the time comes I think this will be one of the most difficult songs for me to sing live without getting emotional.

The video shows how your father’s alcoholism has affected you throughout your life. What’s your message to other people and families that are dealing with similar issues such as substance abuse? Are there any organizations you are, or would like to be, involved with?

To be honest I still have a hard time dealing it with it myself so I don’t necessarily know if I’m the right person to give advice. I would just say that families in the same situation should know that there are other people out there that are going through the same issues. I hope this video can be just that thing so they don’t feel so alone.

Your song “DNA” and the accompanying music video are very personal and emotionally charged. Yet you talk about the writing process for the song and being excited when everything came together. Was it a difficult balance for you sharing that kind of experience?

In a lot of ways it is bittersweet but incredibly rewarding in the end to have something that I’ve worked so hard on and been keeping a secret for so long finally being out there.

Other female artists have had songs and videos about abuse and family troubles–namely Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. What do you think makes “DNA” stand apart?

“DNA” is my story but I think everyone’s  stories are unique in their own ways and mean different things to different people.

What’s next? Can you give us any information about other upcoming singles, or maybe an album release and tour?

I’m finishing up my album as we speak. I’d like to release another single in the next few months (it will be very different from “DNA”!)

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