“I don’t work in the music industry. I work in the music community – there’s a difference.” Such is the ethos of Colchester musician Johnno Casson who, let’s face it, knows a thing or two about the business.
For the last eight years, the multi-instrumentalist has performed indie-pop under the pseudonym Snippet as part of the Folk Wit label. With support from Dutch producer Wim Oudijk, he’s got four EPs under his belt as well as an album, Slowly Slowly Catchee Monkey.
Such is the success of Johnno’s alter-ego that Snippet is currently the most played artist on the BBC Introducing show on 6 Music, while Q Magazine said “the skewed pop of Colchester’s Snippet is reminiscent of early Beck”.
Hackney-born Johnno has also released an album called Window Shopping under his own name, with the songs taking a more acoustic folk direction. Talking to The Colchester Circle, he explained why he decided to keep the two projects separate. “I was conscious that people wouldn’t recognise these songs as Snippet so it made sense to use my own name,” he said.
“I love the fact that I can do what I want and am not obliged to stick to one genre. In fact, another of my projects came out of a song I wrote called Kiss My Arse, which poked fun at people who tell you that you can’t do more than one style of music.
“I released the song under the name Old Tramp, not telling people that it was me at first. It was so well received and made me realise that it doesn’t matter who you are, it’s what you do that’s important. If the music is good enough, the cream will rise to the top no matter what.”
With so many projects on the go, 2013 looks set to be a busy old year for Johnno, who moved to Colchester eight years ago to raise his family. Puppets, the debut Old Tramp EP, is currently in production while he’s also working with a number of collaborators on a remix version of Window Shopping called Window Dressing. He’s putting the finishing touches to a new Snippets EP called DIY and is looking forward to performing at the Big Tree Festival in Suffolk in August.
It’s a wonder he finds time for anything else, but Johnno is also passionate about championing new music and making sure up-and-coming artists get their chance to shine. He explained: “I spend a lot of time with Tom Robinson from BBC 6 Music and I write for his blog, Fresh on the Net. We’ve got a feature called Listening Post where new music is uploaded and members of the public vote for their favourite songs.
“It’s a very open and natural approach to finding new music that people like, and through that, the artists have a great chance of being played on 6 Music. For me, working in the music community is all about supporting other artists.”
So what advice does Johnno have for fledgling musicians? “Put creativity first and money second,” he said. “Take your time – learn your craft and don’t rush things. It’s very rare that you’ll be signed up and earn huge amounts of money so it’s better to find a record label rather than a record company.”
He added that fame and fortune aren’t on his own list of ambitions. “I just want to continue making music that people enjoy,” he said. “And Colchester’s a great place to do it. It’s got such a vibrant music scene with artists like Animal Noise, Dingus Khan and Videotapes. It kicks like a mule in comparison to other towns of its size and I’m very proud to be a musician here.”