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Stage presence is everything. Fueled by Character and Charisma.

Posted: May 9, 2023
Stage presence is defined by “the ability to command the attention of a theater audience by the impressiveness of one's manner or appearance”.

You will hear the saying that “appearance isn’t everything”. The statement does have merit in everyday life. No individual should be defined by their appearance alone. There is more to the value of an individual then what they look like. The heart and soul of a person says everything. We often will talk about the importance of character. We wholeheartedly believe that you can get further in life with good traits that define you. Especially when you consider it from a spiritual perspective.

For this topic, we are going to be focused on stage presence defined by two-factors. Appearance and charisma. When an artist has the “ability to demand” or “pull in the attention” of their fans, they truly have stage presence. Think about those words carefully. Do you recall the last time you uttered a word, and didn’t have to repeat yourself? Do remember when the last time you spoke, and people would eagerly anticipate what you would say? I can say I have. Because of my experience with public speaking. However, outside of that, it is difficult to capture someone’s attention. I believe I have Charisma, fueled by my insatiable need to tell jokes. Now, to think of it, that is probably part of my problem. It could be my jokes are just not funny. I will get back to you on that one.

So, Appearance and charisma are key elements for a performer. Especially when your livelihood depends upon your ability to capture the attention of your audience. I can’t keep track of the number of artists in the music industry that lack stage presence. They know how to sing. That is not the problem. It is their ability to capture the attention of their audience. Yes, there are many excuses why this may happen. It could be the venue, alcohol consumption, audience capacity, etc. etc. I have heard all the excuses. However, when it comes down to it, the reason is lack of “stage presence”.

You mean, wearing the right boots, right?? No. It’s not your boots, hat, or clothing. It’s your God given personality. Sometimes it comes naturally, and other times you learn it. Either way, you must develop it. If not, you’re always going to wonder “why” or “what if”. Do not worry, just keep following our lead, and you will grasp the concept completely. If not from Guitar Thrills Magazine than maybe one of our guests will help. Like Johnny Young for example. If you are familiar with Johnny Young mad guitar skills, then you will see an example of stage presence. The only thing you will need to figure out, is how does he do it? What is his secret of the trade? Did a “stage presence” come naturally, or did he need to develop it. Let’s find out.

 

ABOUT JOHNNY YOUNG

Johnny Young is a multi-instrumentalist/Photographer/Videographer and sound engineer from Southern Ca. Currently working as the touring guitarist for Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper/Demi Lovato)

Johnny started playing guitar at the age of 14 in his hometown of Palm Springs, Ca. In 2006 Johnny moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at The Musicians Institute, where he studied from 2006-2008 under the instruction of Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, Guthrie Govan and many more.

In early 2008, he was contacted by producer Logan Mader (Machine Head/Soulfly/Once Human) and asked to join the LA based Death Pilot.

In 2009 Death Pilot showcased for Virgin/EMI, later announcing the groups signing to Virgin Records as The Kill Corps. Around this time, he also started writing new music for other LA and So Cal based artists and groups.

In the fall of 2011, Johnny started working on music with drummer Phil Gonyea (Against All Will) vocalist Adam Ryan (Death Pilot/TKC/Alphamega) & guitarist Nikki Stringfield (Iron Maidens) forming the group ‘Before the Mourning’. B4TM released its first single "Dismember" on Feb 14th, 2012.

In 2012, Johnny was approached by Logan Mader again to record music with Nita Strauss, Bill Hudson (Trans-Siberian Orchestra/NorthTale) and a massive ensemble of other talented artist for the ‘Metal Gear Rising’ soundtrack under the production of Logan Mader and Jamie Christopherson for Konami Inc.

Johnny continued writing and producing music and, in the summer of 2015, created The Augments Project with vocalist Jimmy Trigger, bassist Frankie Sil (Static X, New Year’s Day) drummer Josh Alves (Rivals) and keyboardist Matt Belluardo. The first EP and Music Video "Awaken" released in April of 2015.

In 2016, Johnny began working with the AZ based ‘Message to The Masses’ (Artery Records) during which time they released 2 singles ‘Masquerade’ and ‘Perceptions’ produced and engineered by Nick Morzov and Johnny Young himself.

In summer of 2019, Johnny was approached by Nita Strauss to fill in on backing/rhythm guitar for a few so cal-based shows and has been continuing to do so ever since.

 

Johnny Young uses:

  1. ESP Guitars
  2. Dunlop Picks
  3. Hercules Stands
  4. Levy’s Straps
  5. Shure Wireless Systems
  6. NUX EFX
  7. Fusion Gig Bags

 

GT: Hello Johnny. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. The topic of stage presence is difficult for artists to figure out. It probably should be one of the first concepts to focus on. How important to you is stage presence?

Johnny: Truthfully, it’s the entire reason I go to shows. If I wanted to hear a bands album, front to back flawlessly with no variation, I would stay home and listen to the music. I go to the show to see the performance itself and listen for the details and nuances of that live moment. I am there to see what things they do different musically, as well as enjoy their performance in a way that I can’t do sitting at home so for me, it’s the whole reason for going to the show.

 

GT: We know that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I can recall my wife telling me about her sales ability. Some are born with it, and some must learn. Even then, learning is quite challenging, and some will never accomplish it. By appearance, it seems commanding the attention of an audience comes natural to you. Is that the case?

Johnny: I think it all comes down to a person’s natural charisma. Some people are born with a genuinely natural magnetism about them. It’s kinda like Forrest Gump and ping pong, ya know? It presents itself in different ways for everyone and I think the best thing any person can do is find the thing that they love most and that feels most natural to them and give it their all. Do that and the rest will follow. For me, it’s always been music and performing.

 

GT: Even the best artists have their off nights. Do you spend time analyzing your shows, to address what you could have done better?

Johnny: ABSOLUTELY! You have too. You can’t be a musician or artist in any professional sense and not actively seek out what your weaknesses are to improve them. I’ll watch every video I’m in, go over audio recordings I’ve engineered/produced, photos that I’ve shot and edited, videos I’ve filmed and edited and make notes about what needs to be adjusted or what can be better next time I do it.

 

GT: It is our belief that you are quite an expert at pulling in your audiences. Your fans must love you for it. Do you have any general ideas that may help other artists with stage presence?

Johnny: ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE! They’re there to see a show. GIVE EM ONE! Make it special. Make it memorable! Pull out all the stops and leave nothing undone when you walk off that stage.

 

GT: That's some excellent feedback. What elements of your performance comes natural to you? In addition, what parts of your performance do you need to keep working at?

Johnny: I think performing for me has always felt like I’m right where I’m supposed to be. It’s genuinely when I feel 100% about what I’m doing in life. The thing I struggle with most (both on and off stage) is applying restraint. I often forget to pull it back and relax a bit when performing. When I do pull it back, it feels unnatural so, that’s something I’m actively working on.

 

GT: Excellent insight. What is your purpose as a guitarist? Is there more that you want to achieve?

Johnny: Guitar is and always has been my calling. Ever since I was a kid, it’s what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. As I’ve grown and come to learn this industry, it’s no longer the only element I focus on. There are so many layers and moving pieces in the music business, especially now that artists to have more control over the distribution side of things so, I’m constantly diversifying my skill sets to be ready for any and all opportunities that come my way.

 

GT: Do you have the desire to start up your own band, and take over the vocals?

Johnny: Vocals, not so much but it’s not off the table. I have a sound in mind pecking at the back of my head but, we’ll see. I do intend to release some music of my own again soon and see what happens with it.

 

GT: The ESP guitar brand is being used more often by guitarists. What made you decide to make it the brand of choice? Is there a specific sound or combination that works well?

Johnny: ESP has been in the hands of some of the greatest artist in the music community. When it came time for me to pick my first guitar, they stood out. They look awesome and play even better so for me, it’s a no brainer. In 2010, they welcomed me to the family as one of their artists and to this day, it’s one of the greatest feelings of achievement I’ve had. Anytime I need anything, anytime I’m prepping for tour, Tony checks in and makes sure I’m good to go. They’ve been beyond amazing to me, and I couldn’t see myself stepping on a stage without an ESP in my hands.
Right now, I’m favoring a H1001 series loaded with a Seymour Duncan Sentient and Pegasus combination and a Floyd Rose system. I use 11-56 strings and my picking hand is heavy, so I use a 1.40 Dunlop Ultex sharp for a quicker string release and more aggressive attack.

 

GT: You must tour a lot, is there a drawback from touring? On the other hand, what is the best experience that you recall and who were you performing with at the time?

Johnny: Touring is an interesting dynamic. When you’re just starting out, it’s messy and just utter chaos. As you progress and (with any luck) conditions improve, it becomes more focused. As I’ve grown older, the small conveniences like a full working bathroom/shower or a place to cook are more appreciated than they were in my 20’s.
I’d say my favorite touring experience happened more recently actually. Nita was touring with Black Label Society and Zaak Wylde has always been one of my heroes. Getting the opportunity to meet him and his amazing band and crew was a cool moment for my 14-year-old self.

 

GT: So. what is in the works for you? What gigs do you have coming up? Will you be working with Nita Strauss?

Johnny: Right now, I’m in preparations for the Summer Storm tour with Nita Strauss. She’s hitting North America beginning on 06/13. All dates are available on NitaStrauss.com. As for me, I’m currently building a studio and working on my own material. A new website will be announced with links to a new web series I’m producing so, for more information on that, follow my insta: @Johnny.D.Young

 

GT: That is awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to be a featured guest of Guitar Thrills Magazine. We look forward to speaking to you again soon.

Johnny: Hey man, thanks for having me. I hope your readers enjoyed the article!
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