Topic: Entertainment

Sammy J - from Tīrau to Hollywood

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Singer-songwriter Sammy Johnson aka Sammy J is making a name for himself on the international music scene, selling out venues across America this year with his upbeat reggae hits. 

"I forget a lot of the time when I'm in the States just how lucky I am to do what I do," he says.  "I crack up because I've played all over the world and the States, I've sold out the House of Blues and all kinds of different places and I look out at the crowd and it surprises me that someone has come to pay money to watch me, I'm just like, are you in the right place?" he says laughing.

"The cool thing about being from New Zealand is that our sound like Sons of Zion and a lot of the other Kiwi artists that do get to come over to the other side, Rads (Aaradhna) and a lot of the other artists, is that we have our own specific way of doing it and so they just love it, it's really cool."

Since hitting the music scene when he was 26 years old, now 32, his songs have racked up millions of views on YouTube and he's packing out venues in America.

But the boy with his roots from Tīrau who is now living in Hollywood is set to drop a new EP in the New Year, music that draws from his experiences of living in the States.

"I think living in the States has definitely changed my outlook on life in general," he says, "But this next project there is a lot of reggae but it's a more mature sound I guess."

"You're still going to get your Sammy J love songs but there's a lot more depth in what I talk about."

After his Sleepwalker Tour which ends in Whakatāne next month, he'll be heading back to America for another tour beginning in January, but will be back in New Zealand to fit One Love into his packed schedule.