The first time Philthy encountered Johanna Cranitch was nearly two years ago, when she was known as Johanna and the Dusty Floor, which I described as “delightfully audacious for a… singer/songwriter,” going on to characterize her music as, “Often incorporating epic moodiness, more reminiscent of elegantly angsty 80s teens than anything that would find itself at World Café Live.” However, since then, Ms. Cranitch has reinvented herself as White Prism, a project that she explains to me is, “Really really synth pop, but I think it’s a little more sophisticated, but I don’t mean that in a snobby way… It was really inspired by a lot of French pop.” This Tuesday, April 9th, sees the release of White Prism’s self-titled EP. In comparison to the Johanna and the Dusty Floor album, she says, “The last record was so personal, not to say that this one isn’t, but I feel like this is a lot more lighthearted and lends itself to more interpretations.” However, Johanna’s inspirations would seem to transcend genres: “I really love poetry, like Mary Oliver and Anais Nin. I’m really inspired by Ernest Hemingway and Kate Bush, even though that’s become such a cliché…”
Johanna Cranitch is currently based in NYC, but comes to us all the way from Australia. She grew up in a musical family, with a jazz pianist for a father, who encouraged her to pursue her own sound from a very young age. By the age of nine she had performed at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Opera Australia Children’s Chorus. She proceeded to attend the Australian Institute of Music, where she studied in their program for jazz vocalists. However, it wasn’t only the “high art” end of the music spectrum which she found inspiring. She tells me, “I grew up with Wham! and Fleetwood Mac and Phil Collins,” and explains that many of her most recent influences are also of the popular variety.
“I love Toro Y Moi and Depeche Mode, oh and iamamiwhoami, I’m obsessed. I want to open for them. That’s my dream opening slot.”
Johanna has been in NYC for a few years now and she seems to have gained experience in nearly every facet of the music industry. She has worked as a studio engineer at Nola Recording Studios, toured as a backup singer in The Cranberries, and even worked on the “visuals” side of things: “I have a lot of photographer friends and makeup friends and I style a lot of album covers… If I wasn’t doing music, I’d be a stylist… I spend a lot of time reading fashion blogs.” In addition to White Prism, Johanna has a full-length solo album in the works, which she’s hoping to have out by the year’s end.
While Johanna’s still loving NYC, during our chat last week, she did admit to a bit of frustration with the climate: “I’m a little tired of the weather. I mean, I’m from Australia… I can’t wear any of my cute dresses.” But it’s not just NYC that Johanna digs about the Mid-Atlantic. Apparently, she’s a huge fan of the 215. When Johanna and the Dusty Floor toured in the summer of 2010, she made two stops in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, a packed house show near the Italian Market (with a “host family” that were apparently the sweetest/coolest people ever) and a gig at the Fire, which apparently left a very good taste in her mouth.
“Philly was my favorite city on the tour. It was the first show I’d ever played outside of NYC… As a solo artist and someone who’s not necessarily huge, you don’t expect much and you never get your hopes up, but I had a really good two days in Philly… If I didn’t live in New York, it would be Nashville or Philly.”