We sat down with Britta Johnson to learn more about her and her work.
Your parents were musicians and you also frequently collaborate with your sister Anika. How has growing up in the arts influenced your own work?
That’s really hard to say! It’s all I’ve ever known! I grew up in a household filled with people who were curious about music and art and theatre and that made me curious about it too. From the very beginning of my life, making music was how I spent time with the people I loved and how I communicated with the world around me and I guess it’s no surprise that my life has played out in a way that has allowed that to remain true.
You said in an interview that “it’s possible music makes things more honest.” Can you explain what you mean?
I think that music provides what words cannot. So much of the human experience is bigger than what I know how to talk about using words and sometimes, it feels like music helps me to get closer to saying what I mean. I think it also might help me get closer to understanding what other people mean.
You have two more musicals coming up with Toronto’s Musical Stage Company. Can you talk about your current creative process?
I am currently in the process of writing a new, through-sung, experimental show with my sister, Anika called “Dr. Silver: A Celebration of Life.” We are playing with a lot of new musical sounds and a lot of new methods of storytelling. Every process is so different and this one has been particularly strange and amazing because this show is unlike anything we have ever worked on before. It is also our first solo venture as a team (we have primarily worked as a song-writing duo for larger projects) and we are learning a lot about our process and collective voice. It is quite a privilege to have to platform to stretch myself and try new things and create a varied body of work.
How does it feel to be dubbed “musical theatre’s next great hope” by The Toronto Star?
I am so flattered but I think a more accurate statement would be that I am part of a movement that is Canadian musical theatre’s next great hope. I think that musical theatre is having a real renaissance in our country right now and I am lucky to be surrounded by a community of people using music to tell stories in really new and exciting ways. I feel really grateful to do what I do and really inspired by my peers.
What does being nominated for the Emerging Artist Award mean to you?
It’s such an honour. It is incredible to feel seen in the work that I do. I do not take this for feeling for granted and want to use it as encouragement to dream bigger, to connect with and collaborate with more artists from other disciplines, to keep pushing what it means to write for theatre and to stay grounded and curious in the work that I do.