by Carter Hemion
Never Met A Human’s debut EP, released on August 27th, shows off four new and experimental tracks. The solo artist, Cam Johnson, recorded all vocals and instruments, including drums, guitar, synth, and keyboard. In an exclusive Attuned interview, Never Met A Human opened up about the new EP Mini Human Heart.
Drawing from his background as a drummer, the artist plays with roots in jazz, rock, soul, and funk, and uses electronic elements to fuse together the EP. Beginning as a drummer from a young age, Never Met A Human played with other artists, including Leven Kali, Decorator, and S.I. Istwa, before starting his solo career.
One thing that Never Met A Human wants his listeners to know going into the EP is “I look at everything as its own little world. There’ll be links and connections between each piece and each project and eventually, I’ll drop an album and there will be a connection between everything I do but at the same time I think things can be viewed as statements that are self-contained.” He plans to release more music following Mini Human Heart.
“I like experimenting a lot with genres so not everything I release is going to sound like the last thing I released […] and I want my listeners to appreciate that and to want to go on that journey with me and to be open to new sounds and experimentation because I think that’s kind of the fun part of the entire process for me,” he said.
Never Met A Human said, “the entire project came out of the desire for me to have my own musical voice independent of other people I was working with.” He continued that “part of the process was asking questions, the big questions: who am I, what do I stand for, how does the world view me, what it means to be who I am in the world.” The four tracks work together to show a journey through emotions.
The artist spoke on the first song and the feelings behind it. He said, “‘Habitat’ is about a feeling of disconnect from where I was at that point in my life and wanting to go somewhere else… feeling like I wasn’t perceived by others as I felt internally.” Never Met A Human continued that “Habitat” is a song about “finding a way of being that makes you feel at home and more comfortable, which is just something I’ve always felt challenged by.” The song is also about the idea that “there might be some other magical place where you do fit in,” said the artist. “Really,” he said, “it’s just work you have to do on your own [and] there’s nowhere you can really go.”
The second song on the EP, “Sex Disconnect,” continues with the feelings of not necessarily fitting in. Never Met A Human said it is “about feeling observed and judged and watched.” He said, it “reflects some of the feelings of like the world around you is trying to fit you into a particular box that you don’t want to go inside, [and] whether you’re meant to be there or not, you don’t want to go there.”
The third piece, “Grounded,” has two verses. On writing it, Never Met A Human said, “‘Grounded’ is more of a hymn or a prayer than a song. I think of it as a poem because it’s just two verses, it’s very short, and there’s a tiny little musical interlude between the two verses.” As for the style and lyrical content, “it’s kind of like a self-soothing comfort song about something, somewhere, some element of the universe keeping you grounded.” He continued, “the last lyrical component of the EP ends on ‘Grounded.’” He chose this because the “saving grace of it all is a mysterious force that keeps you feeling all right and able to keep moving forward.”
Finally, Mini Human Heart closes with the instrumental track “God Only Knows.” It utilizes recorded sounds “that are meant to really transport the listener” alongside the instruments. Never Met A Human said “from a really literal perspective, the sound of the steps walking, getting into a vehicle, and driving off is a sense of conclusion and then the music really starts to happen. The flow of water [symbolizes] the flow of things, the overall atmosphere I was creating. I think all of those things can be looked at literally as in this is the end, I’m getting in, I’m leaving, I’m done. I think it can be looked at maybe a little metaphorically as in wanting to escape, wanting to go somewhere, wanting to up and leave, wanting to transition your life, wanting to be in a different place.” In that sense, he said, “when I was making that song, I was really thinking spatially. I have a full image I get every time I play it […] I’d love for people to listen and be able to create their own image of what it is.”
Reflecting on the creative process, making the EP was a product of solitary time and exploring emotions. With jazz roots, Never Met A Human improvised parts of the tracks that remain as-is. Many of the lyrics on “Habitat,” the verse of “Sex Disconnect,” the bassline on “Grounded,” and the melody on “God Only Knows” were improvised. More intentional parts of tracks involved sound design and atmosphere development.
On the final product, Never Met A Human said “I think this EP has rough edges. It has rough edges in the lyrics in terms of how they can be interpreted […] and it’s got rough edges in terms of its sonic quality.” The rough edges reflect “a rough-hewn planet, a place with sharp edges, a place where not everything is smoothed over and perfected.”
Never Met A Human said, “I want this music to go directly from me to the listener, I didn’t want it to go through people that would try and shape it to make it any more palatable than it was meant to be.”