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Sunday , November 18 2018
Home | Tag Archives: Matt U Johnson

Tag Archives: Matt U Johnson

Daily Schedule for Upcoming Neon Desert Music Festival Announced

Neon Desert Music Festival officials announced the daily music lineup for the eighth annual event, which is slated to return to El Paso, Texas, on May 26 & 27 of Memorial Day weekend.

Taking place over 15 city blocks in the heart of downtown El Paso and encompassing two city parks, Cleveland Square Park and San Jacinto Plaza, Neon Desert is one of the first major US music festivals to emphasize booking mainstream American acts alongside acclaimed international and Latin performers since year one.

This year, the festival will welcome headlining performances on Saturday, May 27, from Dutch EDM superstar Martin Garrix, who is currently ranked the No. 1 DJ in the world on DJ Mag‘s annual Top 100 DJs Poll; El Paso-born rock icons At the Drive-In, who continue to perform in support of the band’s reunion last year after a long-awaited return from their hiatus since 2001; and the Grammy Award-winning and oft-labeled “Best Rapper Alive” Lil Wayne.

The headlining performances on Saturday will be supported with sets from alt-rock darlings Third Eye Blind, who are set to perform a variety of their decade-spanning greatest hits; rapper Playboi Carti, who continues to ride high from the success of last year’s viral smash hit “Magnolia;” the mysterious masked DJ and producer Malaa, many fans of whom suspect is the collaborative secret project of Parisian producers DJ Snake, Tchami, and Mercer; and Latin Grammy-nominated Mexican singer/songwriter Caloncho; in addition to Cults, Little Jesus, Dreamville Records’ Earthgang, Boogie, and more.

Headlining performances on Sunday will include Atlanta trap-rapper and New York Times best-selling author Gucci Mane, who is prepping for the debut of Glacier Boyz, his rumored collaborative super-group project with Migos and Lil Yachty; American DJ/producer Dillon Francis, who is currently prepping for the release of his next album which is said to heavily feature Latin and Spanish-language music; and rock group Café Tacvba, who hail from nearby Mexico and continue to perform in support of their recent album, Jei Beibi, which was released last May.

Sunday’s schedule is also set to include performances from Puerto Rican-born reggaeton singer and songwriter Farruko; electronic dance music duo GTA; New York-based indie-pop band The Drums; and Bomba Estéreo, who are best known for their psychedelic-cumbia style of music and who just released their latest album, Ayo, last fall to praise from critics and fans alike, and many other acts, like LANY, Lecrae, Cuco, Nao, and Buddy, among others.

Single-day GA passes are on sale now for $79 at NeonDesert.com  Additionally, weekend GA passes to the two-day event are still available for $119, along with J&K weekend VIP passes for $275 and J&K Platinum weekend VIP passes for $550.

J&K VIP ticket-holders will receive a variety of perks, a dedicated VIP-only entrance, complimentary drinks by Later Later, complimentary dinner each night, official Neon Desert merch, El Paso Electric charging stations, free barber, and more.

J&K Platinum VIP passes, which sold out in their debut last year, offer the most elevated experience available to ticket buyers. The Platinum VIP attendees will receive all of the regular VIP perks, in addition to exclusive access to a main stage viewing deck, a special Platinum VIP area featuring dedicated bars and food vendors, and more.

Interested patrons are encouraged to act fast as these VIP ticket packages are in very short supply.

The daily music performance lineup for Neon Desert 2018 can be found below:

SATURDAY, MAY 26

MARTIN GARRIX • AT THE DRIVE-IN • LIL WAYNE

THIRD EYE BLIND • PLAYBOI CARTI • MALAA • CALONCHO

CULTS • LITTLE JESUS • EARTHGANG • BOOGIE • THE SWELL KIDS

GREAT SHAPES • DULCE MAL • SICK.LIFE • PILOTS OF VENUS • GILA MONSTER • YOUNG DELUXE

DIVINE KEGEL • MOUNTAIN VIBES • THE FIFTH ESTATE • MIKEY CLOUD • STANGUS • THE SANDY OHMS

SUNDAY, MAY 27

GUCCI MANE • DILLON FRANCIS • CAFÉ TACVBA

FARRUKO • GTA • THE DRUMS • BOMBA ESTÉREO

LANY • LECRAE • CUCO • NAO • BUDDY • THE GARDEN

DIRTY RIVER BOYS • NICK HIRSCH • A. BILLI FREE • SPACE CAPTAINS COLLECTIVE • WILDSTERS  

FAT CAMP • SLEEPSPENT • MEDVEDI • SOUL PARADE • CRY BABY • MATT U JOHNSON

In addition to the music performances throughout the weekend, fans at the 2018 festival will experience a unique urban festival environment that literally transforms historic downtown El Paso into a festival playscape for attendees of all ages.

Key features of the festival include a dedicated stage for local artists in the San Jacinto Square, as well as a skate ramp, pro wrestling, and more.

Neon Desert will also curate a full slate of local food vendors and live visual artists for the two-day event in a continued effort to provide ticket buyers with an authentic West Texas festival experience unlike any other. The festival is also proud to benefit 2018 partner El Paso Sun City Pride.

Now in its eighth year, Neon Desert has cumulatively hosted over 170,000 attendees, with over 40,000 music fans partaking in the 2017 two-day celebration (a 25% increase from the year prior).

Since its inception in 2011, the event has offered attendees an eclectic mix of mainstream American performers alongside acclaimed international acts, with past festival performers including 2017 acts like Hardwell, Foster the People, J Balvin, Alesso, Logic, Migos, as well as Tiësto, Future, J. Cole, Kaskade, Daddy Yankee, Passion Pit, Zoé, Ximena Sariñana, Mala Rodríquez, G-Eazy, Zedd, Wiz Khalifa, MGMT, and Moby, who have played in years prior.

For more information on the festival, visit the festival’s website. Follow Neon Desert Music Festival on facebook, on Instagram and on Twitter for updates and special promotions. The official hashtag of Neon Desert 2018 is #NDMF2018.

Audio+Story: Matt U Johnson’s Musical Mix Propelling Him to the World Stage

“He’s like hip-hop meets that Caribbean vibe,” says Shana, a girl who describes herself as an audiophile. “It’s that big city flavor we need here.”

I visited Cielo Vista Mall and showed his My Life video to ask what people thought of it.

“It has a flavor,” said Trevor, who works at the mall. “It’s easy, you know, to jump into, to feel that grove he’s on.”

Who are they talking about? Matt U Johnson

“It’s flavorful,” says Ras Black, one of my friends in Jamaican. “It’s bringing things like Sean Paul, like Anthony B, Morgan Heritage. All this thing comes into the pan, mix up, and you have Matt U.”

I was able to catch up with Matt, via phone, during his promo tour with Treyy G in London. I also spoke with his parents, Dr. John and Maureen Johnson.

So, who is Matt U Johnson? For the last six years, Matt U has been climbing his way up the independent music scene here in El Paso.

Having moved here from New York City, he’s immersed himself in our unique culture, flow, and way of life. He’s performed at some of the many local shows we have, like Minerpalooza. He’ll also be at the Neon Desert Music Festival this year.

“He sang the Divine Liturgy of St. John of Christendom,” says Dr. Johnson. “Then sang in choir in College.”  Dr. Johnson, a retired pastor, and his wife Maureen have instilled some interesting traits in their son.

“The lyrics are clean,” says Dr. Johnson. Listen to a lot of music on XM Radio, that causes Matt U Johnson to stand out.

“Well, you know, in the music business, there are very few overnight successes,” says Dr. Johnson, when I asked him about how his son differs. “Other artists, some people use profanity, they are talking about guns and killing people. Kids who keep it clean, who go pop, country, or rock, may not be given the same advantages of someone who curses or is negative. In society today, that’s what they want.”

What Matt U Johnson is doing with his music, his style is staying genuine. He is staying true to himself, to his roots.

“He was into what I was into, he brought me up into that world,” says Matt U Johnson of his father’s love of music, and that’s where the Jamaican infusion comes from. Matt U’s music is an eclectic mixture of styles. There is the pop influence and EDM.

You’ll also find a bit of Dancehall as well. It’s a different style, a different form that is not often found here in the United States.

“I think it’s being accepted on a wide basis now,” says Matt U. “It started with Bob Marley and the Wailers. Then it evolved in the 90’s with the Dancehall scene of Shaba Ranks, Buju Banton and all these different kind of people. You’ve got Sean Paul; you have Sean Kingston. So, it’s very, very accepted. And it’s branched into the pop and electronic dance realm as well.”

Now, I should say that I love music. For the first forty-six years of my life music is all I had. Didn’t own a television, until last year. My life revolved around what I would find on the radio, what CD’s I would decide to listen to, or what musical rabbit hole I would jump down on
YouTube.

Another aspect of my life that involved music started back when I was fifteen. Back in 1985, I got my first radio gig at KXCR. The station billed itself as the “Heart of El Paso.” (I miss KXCR. It was the only contemporary Jazz station El Paso had). Music is at the center of my life.

I began to compare Matt U’s style of music to people like Buju Banton, Sizzla, and even Bob Marley. You can hear the inspiration Matt U took from these and so many others in his music. It speaks to you, it draws you in and compels you to get up and move your body.

I asked Matt U if he would ever get into recording Roots Reggae.

“Yeah man,” he said. “I was raised on the Roots Reggae thing too. Steel Pulse being an influence, Black Uhuru, Freddie McGregor, Morgan Heritage.”

Matt U has even worked with Jimmy Cliff and Computer Paul Henton. Working with these musicians, growing up with the music of others, it informs what Matt U does, his style, the way he presents himself on stage. For him, it works.  However, tetting there, on the stage, did have its struggles.

We are hard on people. By “we” I am speaking of El Pasoans. It’s almost like we have this double standard. If you are coming from out of town, someone fresh off the bus, you are going to have a lot of advantages others don’t. If you’re from here, we just may look at you and shake our heads, thinking “What can he do? What does he know? He’s from (insert a part of town here)”

I’ve seen it and experienced it myself.

“I noticed if you are truly local to El Paso,” says Matt U “sometimes they don’t really want to give you a shot. But, as time went along and some of the opportunities kind of ran out in El Paso, and they started really branding me more of a local artist, I kind of seen that it got more and more difficult to get things going.”

As I said, I’ve seen this. People who have a dream here and find roadblock after roadblock tossed up before them. It can be crushing. Matt U is not trying to brand himself as a lifelong El Pasoan. Nor is he trying to be another Khalid. But, Matt U will rep El Paso as much as he does New York.

Honestly, we can use all the exposure we can get. With Matt U, we are getting that exposure as well as a dose of positive vibes.

As an independent artist, with his family and G-d behind him, he is going to make it.

“If he’s in the music business, and can keep it clean, make money, help his community,” says Dr. Johnson, Matt U’s father, “as long as he keeps it clean and maneuvers the nastiness of the music industry, he will make it.”

“You keep praying, you keep moving,” says Dr. Johnson, “and you will succeed.” Matt U has echoed that same statement, giving credit to his family and G-d for what he has received thus far. I guarantee you; we will be hearing and seeing a lot more of Matt U Johnson.

I invite you to listen to part of my interview with Matt U Johnson above, he’s a great guy, and I think you’ll like him more.  You can also follow him via his webpage, Facebook page, YouTube Channel or check out his music here.

Photos courtesy Tony Jerome and Surpreme Photography

At the Drive-In, Gucci Mane, Cardi B, Café Tacvba Among 2018 Neon Desert Acts

Friday morning, Neon Desert Music Festival officials unveiled their full music lineup for the eighth annual event, which will again take place across two days on Memorial Day weekend in the heart of downtown El Paso.

The West Texas festival is set to return this year on Saturday, May 26, and Sunday, May 27, with GA, VIP, and Platinum VIP tickets on sale now online.

Via a news release, Neon Desert officials stated, “NDMF prides itself on being one of the first major US music festivals to emphasize booking not only mainstream American acts, but acclaimed international and Latin performers, as well.”

This year’s lineup continues that tradition with an eclectic mix of world-renowned headliners, like the El Paso-born rock icons At the Drive-In, who continue to perform in support of the band’s reunion last year after a long-awaited hiatus since 2001, and Dutch EDM superstar Martin Garrix, who is currently ranked the No. 1 DJ in the world on DJ Mag‘s annual Top 100 DJs Poll.

Other headliners include Atlanta trap rapper and New York Times best-selling author Gucci Mane, who is prepping for the release of his next project, The Evil Genius, this spring which will serve as a follow up to the four notable albums that he dropped in 2017, as well as the debut of Glacier Boyz, his rumored collaborative super-group project with Migos and Lil Yachty; and American DJ/producer Dillon Francis, who is best known for bringing the moombahton dance scene to the national spotlight and is currently prepping for the release of his next album which is said to heavily feature Latin and Spanish-language music.

Neon Desert will also bring to West Texas some of the biggest names in Latin music today, which include the rock group Café Tacvba, who hail from Ciudad Satélite, Mexico, and continue to perform in support of their recent album, Jei Beibi, released last May; the Puerto Rican-born reggaeton singer and songwriter Farruko; Bomba Estéreo, who are best known for their psychedelic-cumbia style of music and who just released their latest album, Ayo, last fall to praise from critics and fans alike; and Mexican singer and songwriter Caloncho. All of these performers have either been nominated for or have won a Grammy or Latin Grammy Award.

Additional performers include a highly curated mix of nationally recognized performers alongside exciting up-and-comers, like Bronx-born Cardi B, who continues to dominate the radio charts after debuting her No. 1 smash hit, “Bodak Yellow,” in late 2017, the song that made her the first woman rapper to score an unassisted No. 1 hit on the Billboard 100 charts since Lauryn Hill did the same nearly two decades ago.

Indie rock darlings Third Eye Blind, who are set to perform a variety of their greatest hits, including “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Jumper”; rapper Playboi Carti, who continues to ride high from the success of last year’s debut mixtape that included the viral hit “Magnolia”; New York-based indie-pop band The Drums; electronic music duo GTA; and the mysterious masked DJ and producer Malaa, many fans of whom suspect is the collaborative secret project of Parisian producers DJ Snake, Tchami, and Mercer.

In addition to the music performances throughout the weekend, fans at the 2018 festival will experience a unique urban festival environment that literally transforms historic downtown El Paso into a festival playscape for attendees of all ages.

Key features of the festival, which regularly covers over 15 city blocks in the heart of downtown El Paso, include a dedicated stage for local artists in the San Jacinto Square, as well as a skate ramp, pro wrestling, numerous live art installations, and more.

Neon Desert will also curate a full slate of local merchants, food vendors, and live visual artists for the two-day event in a continued effort to provide ticket buyers with an authentic West Texas festival experience unlike any other.

Weekend passes are on sale now at www.neondesert.com. GA two-day tickets are priced at just $119, while J&K VIP tickets are $275, and J&K Platinum VIP tickets cost $550. J&K VIP ticket holders will receive a variety of perks, including re-entry to the festival, a dedicated VIP-only entrance and exit, complimentary drinks throughout the entirety of the festival, complimentary dinner each night, and official Neon Desert merch.

J&K Platinum VIP passes, which sold out in its debut last year, offer the most elevated experience available to ticket buyers. These lucky Platinum VIP attendees will receive all of the regular VIP perks in addition to exclusive access to a main stage viewing deck, special Platinum VIP area, and more.

Interested patrons are encouraged to act fast as these tickets are in short supply and will increase in price as the event date approaches.

Neon Desert is also once again offering a discount-priced two-day GA tickets for all US military members and local veterans at Fort Bliss. Weekend GA passes of Neon Desert Music Festival are available now for purchase for just $99 specifically at the LTS on East Bliss, BLDG 20732 and the Freedom Crossing LTS Kiosk. Interested ticket buyers must present an official military ID in order to purchase tickets to this event.

In total, more than 40 music performers from El Paso and across the globe are set to take the stage at Neon Desert Music Festival 2018, with the full lineup listed below:

Martin Garrix – At the Drive-In – Gucci Mane – Dillon Francis

Cardi B – Café Tacvba – Third Eye Blind – Farruko

Playboi Carti – GTA – Malaa – The Drums – Bomba Estéreo

LANY – Lecrae – Caloncho – Cuco – Nao – Cults – Little Jesus

J.I.D – Earthgang – Boogie – Buddy – The Garden

Nick Hirsch – The Swell Kids – Great Shapes – Dulce Mal

Sick.Life – A. Billi Free – Space Captains Collective – Pilots of Venus

Gila Monster – Medvedi – Divine Kegel – Soul Parade – Fat Camp

Sleepspent – Young Deluxe – Wildsters – Mikey Cloud – Mountain Vibes

The Fifth Estate – Cry Baby – Stangus – Matt U Johnson – The Sandy Ohms