Multi-instrumentalist indie artist JAWNY wants to introduce you to his latest collaboration. Well, sort of. The artist formerly known as Johnny Utah has yet to take on another moniker, but he is being channeled by the ghost of For Abby's past. The heartbroken fuck-up-of-the-century who recorded that 43-second title track on JAWNY's debut EP? That was Hugo, actually. JAWNY will be back later.
The four-track, two-interlude project The Story of Hugo communicates an age-old tale of young love gone awry -- boy meets girl, boy sabotages everything, girl moves on, boy deeply, deeply regrets it. And that girl is Abby, by the way. The Abby, for whom
JAWNY's 10-song October 2020 release is named after. The Story of Hugo is a 15-minute prelude to Abby's infamous mixtape, a pop-heavy gut-punch of bitterness and remorse in watching the person you loved once and lost forever move on from you in real-time -- a twenty-something's grieving process brought to life.
The Story of Hugo is set in motion with 'Best Thing,' an unhesitatingly pop peek into Hugo's initially arrogant attitude toward his relationship with Abby. The high-pitched vocals give Tyler the Creator's Igor an illustrious nod as Hugo categorically fails every boyfriend test thrown his way, frequently apologizing for "obsessing" over their relationship. By the end of the track, Abby squeaks her truth onto Hugo's voicemail: she's met someone new, and she's sorry, and if Hugo's not sad, he will be soon. 'Best Thing' ends where 'Take It Back' begins, a clamorous amble into pure rock 'n roll. Hugo howls furious lamentations as the microphone reverbs in the vein of early 2000s indie rock, detailed by a no-frills guitar solo reminiscent of the White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army.' Far past the point of no return, he's recanting every cruel word, every untoward glance. Hugo just wants Abby back, and he's recruited a chorus to tell us all about it.
JAWNY's innate capability to blend pop, funk, and indie rock with ease as well as create and inhabit multiple characters comes as no surprise -- the genre-defying hybrid artist never stops moving, both musically and literally. Born and raised in the Bay Area, JAWNY idled his adolescence away in South Carolina and then spent his formative years in New Jersey and Philadelphia before migrating to sunny Los Angeles. It's no wonder he's revered for offering a little bit of everything in his music, often earning comparisons to Beck's lo-fi experimental slacker-pop.
JAWNY's earliest memories are of hoping, wishing, praying to reach some level -- any level -- of rock-stardom. The son of an unerring Dead Head, JAWNY first picked up a guitar at eight-years-old after years of watching his dad jam out to the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. As a young teenager, he performed in his church's youth group and played in an alt-emo band with his brother, singer-rapper Christian Blue. Inspired by Tyler the Creator and Odd Future a few years later, JAWNY hung up his guitar and dipped a toe into rap production in 2012, finally combining his beats and instrumentals on Soundcloud in 2016. He briefly exploded on Bandcamp when he started uploading songs featuring his own vocals that same year, an action he'd been dubious about taking for more than half his life as a musician.
By 2018, JAWNY fell into a Rolodex of Spotify playlists, including prominent taste arbiters like Ultimate Indie and Bedroom Pop, which instigated a snowballing of career highs. 'Crazy For Your Love' was a tipping point for JAWNY later that year, securing him an eager fanbase and notice from influential musicians. In 2019, JAWNY dropped 'Honeypie,' a track he wrote and recorded in little over an hour in his Philadelphia apartment. The song garnered instant acclaim, and the music video, released three weeks later, became a viral sensation overnight, currently standing at 35 million views on YouTube. 'Honeypie' has since been certified gold in the US, platinum in Mexico and has amassed over 600 million streams globally.
In January 2020, less than a year after 'Honeypie' dropped, JAWNY signed to
Interscope Records in a significant deal. In late 2020 delivered his first project under the label titled For Abby. Not quite an EP but not quite an album, the mixtape features both 'Honeypie' and 'Sabotage,' a single that has since reached #33 on Alternative Radio and #34 on the Billboard Alternative Airway Charts in 2021. Fan-favorite 'Trigger of Love' was center-pieced on Apple Music's New Music Daily, where JAWNY was featured as the cover artist, upon release and charted in first place on the hit Spotify playlist Lorem.
The Story of Hugo proves JAWNY is more than the bedroom-pop, camel-hat clad, pie-forking kid the Internet fell in love with in 2019. JAWNY is an inevitably plucky and captivating standout artist challenging musical parameters and remaining enigmatically devoid of categorization. JAWNY will continue to evade labels and develop groundbreaking, label-defying tunes, but right now, there is no JAWNY -- only Hugo.