We met singer Johnny Orlando, 16, when he was visiting in Manhattan recently. We love his music on his latest EP, “Teenage Fever,” especially his songs “Waste My Time” and “Sleep.”
So, did you ever play an instrument? If so, what instrument?
When I was growing up my first instrument was a guitar and I had to take a couple lessons. And then I stopped and I was learning by myself.
Do you have any hobbies other than making music?
Do you play Fortnite?
I used to, but not anymore.
Is there anything special you do before you go on stage?
I give everybody fist bumps and then I go on.
If you were to describe yourself as an artist in one word, what would it be?
Oh, good one. I’d say new. Everything that I do I try to make it as new and fresh as possible.
Do you still go to school?
I do. I go to regular school, kind of.
Are you working on a song right now? If so, what can you tell us?
I’m not working on a song currently. We did a couple sessions last week and they’re songs for summer.
What celebrity would you be if you weren’t Johnny Orlando?
I think it would be pretty cool to be Shawn Mendes, or Justin Bieber.
Do you have any special talents besides singing?
I played hockey since I was 2. So I guess I played a little bit of hockey.
Who helped you get where you are?
Oh, this is so weird. My family and Universal Music.
What kind of advice would you give your younger self?
Just do you. Don’t try and conform to other people.
How did you start out?
I started on YouTube when I was 8 years old with my sister Darian. We just were making a couple cover videos and people wanted some originals, so we started doing that. And we just kept putting music out until this point.
What’s the best part of being of being famous, and the worst?
I think the best part is making people happy, making people’s days. That’s a pretty good feeling. But the worst part — there really aren’t that many bad parts. I guess people come to my house sometimes, which is kind of weird. There’s really not many downsides.
Do you ever wish you weren’t in the spotlight?
What is an interesting background fact that few people know about you?
I used to make songs before I was doing music. They’re really bad. They’re just some random things.
What’s your favorite part of the production of the song?
I like recording the actual song after you’ve written it, because you’ve just spent usually three hours creating a song and writing it, and now you actually get to see it.
Do you have a favorite when you were a kid writing a song?
I try not to be too repetitive. But my favorite lyric that I’ve written was probably the one on “Waste My Time” in the chorus where it goes super high.
If you could pick only one of your songs out of all of your songs, which one would you pick?
To perform for the rest of my life? Probably “Waste My Time.” It’s really fun to perform.
Did you set out to be famous, or did it just happen?
No. It just kind of happened. I didn’t really know what was going on, or what being famous was until I was playing, 11 or 12. When I was 8 years old me and my sister would just be making videos for fun. I didn’t really know that you could become famous or what I was doing. But I figured it out pretty quickly after that.
We were wondering, do you know if you’re related to Tony Orlando?
I don’t think so.
Who helped you create your albums?
Lots of people. Mostly my sister Darian. She was on every single writing session with me, and how it usually goes is it’s me, Darian, one other writer and one producer.
What gave you inspirations for your song “Sleep”?
For my song “Sleep,” I actually didn’t come up with the concept. It was another writer in the room. She’s from Sweden, and there’s a little bit of a language barrier. So I think there’s a saying for the concept in Swedish that we translated over to English, and basically the concept is, you have so much fun being awake and with the person that you’re with that you want to be awake for as long as possible, because what you’re doing right now is better than what your dreams would be.
When you went to work, did you ever lose some of your friends from back home?
Like stop being friends with them? There’s some people that I don’t talk to anymore from when I was really little. But I mean, if I’m good enough friends with somebody, then I keep talking with them. And I still have a friend from my old, old, old school. I met him in second grade.
Do your parents or your family come with you on tour?
They do. Usually wherever I go there’s a couple of family members with me, like Darian and my dad are here right now. But Madison, Lauren and my mom are in L.A. doing the other stuff.
What’s your favorite part of being on tour?
Probably performing in new cities, at new venues and for new people.
Do you ever get nervous that something’s going to happen when you’re on stage?
All the time. And it’s happened before — I was on tour in Europe, and right before I was about to go on stage, the thing that gets power to my microphone and in my monitor, so I can hear myself playing, died. It just wasn’t working, so we had to figure out a way to power all of that. So sometimes stuff does happen. But you just have to keep moving. You know, the show must go on.
What is it like to be famous?
I don’t really consider myself famous, but it’s pretty cool. You go outside and sometimes people recognize you. But it really isn’t that much different that I miss being not famous.
What’s it like having three sisters?
There’s a lot of advice given. There’s a lot of lessons, life lessons. But I mean, ultimately I wouldn’t change it.
Do you have a favorite sister?
No. I love them all equally.
How would you describe yourself?
I don’t know. It’s like the middle area between pop and R&B. It’s not too pop, but it’s not also too R&B. It’s hard to explain. It’s like a mix of multiple different genres.
What kind of music do you prefer?
I listen to rap music. I listen to pop music. Not really much country. But I listen to everything.
What’s the funniest thing a fan ever did to you?
I get pulled into crowds a lot because I give everybody a high five. And somebody will just grab me and I fall into the crowd. But yeah, that’s probably the funniest. It’s funny for everybody else, not me.
You can find out more about him on his website: johnnyorlandomusic.com
Michelle Healy’s Enterprise students, Centre Avenue School, East Rockaway