Premiere: Lia Marie Johnson’s Emotional Debut Video, “DNA”


Premiere: Lia Marie Johnson’s Emotional Debut Video, “DNA”


We speak to Lia about the devastating video and her brave choice.

We speak to Lia about the devastating video and her brave choice.

Text: Jake Viswanath

YouTube sensation Lia Marie Johnson has made her foray into acting with starring roles in movies like The Thinning and shows like t@gged and React, the most-viewed web series of the world. Now Johnson is ready to make her mark in yet another field: music. V is premiering the music video for her debut single, “DNA,” a haunting and chill-inducing story of patterns of physical and emotional abuse being carried through generations.

Inspired by Johnson’s own life experiences, the video sees a younger version of the artist overhearing her father abusing then leaving her mother, then flashes back to her current self in an abusive relationship. It’s a devastating but eye-opening reminder of the detrimental impact of abuse in someone’s life, and an intensely emotional watch.

We spoke to Johnson about the video, how YouTube prepared her for a music career, and the sound of her upcoming music.

You are brave for sharing this story for your debut single. How did the song come about in the studio?

Thank you for that. The song formed really naturally. It was my first time working with this particular producer and writer and they started asking about my life and for some reason I was getting really emotional talking about it that day. The theme of the song and the title “DNA” came out of the conversation from there.

Were you nervous while writing and recording the song, or did you feel a sense of relief?

Yes, it was scary but it was definitely a relief getting those words out. They were all the things I had been wanting to say for so long, it was like therapy.

Has your experience as a YouTuber prepared you for this move in any way?

Well I've been singing ever since I was little – way before YouTube, but I don't think anything can prepare you for something like this.  I  still don't really even know what to expect.

How was the process of filming this video? Was it as much of an emotional experience as it looks?

Conveying the real events that took place would've probably been too dark for a music video-  I still wanted to tell the story but I wanted it to be artistic and also connect with as many people as possible.

You've starred in music videos for artists like Troye Sivan before. How did this feel compared to filming your own video?

I was part of the entire “DNA” creative process. It was hard, though, because while we were getting things ready, I was in Albuquerque filming a seriesso I was super stressed out trying to make sure everything was perfect but I had an amazing director that made sure my vision came across exactly how I wanted.

When did you start dabbling in music, and when did you decide to pursue it alongside your acting ventures?

I’ve been working on music my whole life but I took a break it to focus more on acting. I’ve been working on my album for about two years now while still acting and doing other projects in between.

Who are your musical inspirations and why?

I've always loved classic rock but when I was in middle/high school I started to really get to know my musical tastes. I love moody, dark and dreamy music because that the type of music that makes you feel things when you're driving down the road at night and everything feels perfect. I love rap and artists that you would see at both festivals and super intimate venues.

Describe the sounds of music that you've been working on. What direction are you aiming for?

The music that I'm working on is dark, dreamy, sexy… definitely different than what I’ve done in the past and I don't think what people expect to hear.

Do you think the transition from actress and YouTuber to singer will be natural or jarring for you and your followers?

The people who follow me know that I've been singing and acting ever since I was young so I don't think it will be a difficult transition at all. When I want to do something, I just do it and most everyone around me knows that’s just how I am.

Who would be your dream collaborators or producers to work with?

I would love to work with Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd, or Frank Ocean… that’s kind of a long shot since they don't usually collab with people, but who knows -  maybe one day!

Credits: Banner Image Photography Max Fairclough

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