After 15 million streams for his four EPs to date and airplay from BBC Introducing and Radio 2, Toby Johnson today introduces a bigger, pop-focused sound with his new single ‘California’. It’s his first release of 2021, with much more to follow before the year is out. The official video for the single will follow next week.
Expanding his previous folk stylings into a more expansive, singer-songwriter production style, ‘California’ finds Toby looking to the States for inspiration. His West Coast dreams are the starting point for a song about growth, adventure, and seeking a love that can change everything. It’s all also connected to that desire that so many of us have, just to escape to somewhere different to where we’ve been for the past 18 months: “All I need is a little bit of sun on my skin like the old times.”
Introduced by an opening hollered vocal that invites listener participation, ‘California’ immediately sets out Toby’s agenda for creating grand sonics. That’s underlined by the powerful, rock-tinged hook that follows, bringing inclusivity and melancholy in equal measure. Toby wrote the song with its producer Jonathan Quarmby (Lewis Capaldi, Tom Walker, James Arthur) and Leo Stannard (KC Lights, Camelphat).
Toby says, “When we wrote California we wanted to romanticise the feeling of being lost and being far away from those we love while. I sometimes make this connection between road trips and the feeling of running away from the one thing you’re chasing, a sort of illogical pursuit of happiness. California is about sitting at a crossroad, a thousand miles from home, and facing the realisation that turning around and going back takes more courage than carrying on”.
Listen to ‘California’ - BELOW:
Toby has launched ‘California’ alongside a challenge that gives fans a fun opportunity to connect with the escapist themes that he’s exploring. A Toby doll replica has been made, and the aim is send it from his home in Lincolnshire to California’s iconic Hollywood sign solely via the help of fans. They can sign up via his socials and his website to be a part of the journey. How is entirely up to the participant: mini Toby can travel by train, by Uber or by rowing boat if necessary - anything that helps him complete the 8500 kilometre challenge!
Inspired by Nick Drake, Passenger and Paul Simon, Toby Johnson first came to attention with his self-released debut EP ‘Fox’. His songs have steadily built an organic following ever since, resulting in the recent EPs ‘Things I Should Have Said’ and ‘Carolina’ as well as European tours with Jack Savoretti and Dotan.