Johnny Flynn “I’m learning so much from Shakespeare.”

02.04.07, Words by: Paul Benney

When Johnny Flynn isn’t writing breathtakingly beautiful folk songs, he likes to act. He’s quite good at it, too. He recently appeared in The Taming Of The Shrew and Twelfth Night at The Old Vic in London.
“It’s an inspiring time,” says the 23-year-old Londoner. Acting in the plays and playing shows with my band. I’m learning so much from Shakespeare’s use of language.”
Treading the boards has already has already had an effect on Johnny’s music. Debut single, The Epic Tale Of Tom & Sue, is divided into two ‘acts’ – Tickle Me Pink and Cold Bread – although you might like to refer to them as ‘songs’. Backed by The Sussex Wit – sister Lillie (vocals), Joe Zeitlin (cello), Adam Beach (bass) and Matt Edmonds (drums) – Johnny essays a raucous mix of country, blues and rockabilly that recalls Bob Dylan.
Johnny started making music at a young age, playing the piano, trumpet and violin. When he was eight he went to music school on a choral scholarship. “I was in the brass band, orchestras and choirs,” he remembers. “So limited haymaking for me.”
During a trip to New York, he discovered the anti-folk scene and musicians such as Jeffery Lewis and Dianne Cluck. “It was an exploration of friendship, a discussion of politics, the discovery of punk, Bob Dylan, literature, the guitar, drinking in fields and all manner of other distractions,” he says.
On returning to the UK he set up his own anti-folk club night called Apocalypso, inviting Patrick Wolf, Larrikin Love and Jeremy Warmsley to play. Now Johnny is poised to become the UK’s answer to Devendra Banhart, but without the Native American headdress.
“I’ve got some good ideas and I’m looking forward to using them,” he says.
Inspiring times, indeed.

Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit’s debut single, The Epic Tale Of Tom & Sue, is out now on Young & Lost.

Johnny Flynn’s myspace

Written for the autumn edition of Dummy.

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