With a just-released new album and a quickly growing global profile, Chicago-born musician Huron John is heading toward stardom on a path paved with big dreams and phonetic finesse.
As I sit down to write this, I’ve just finished listening to “Caldera,” the third single released off Huron John’s third album, a two-disc record titled Indigo Jack & The New World Border—twice. The first time around, I am struck by a fascinating electronic sound I haven’t heard from him before. The second, I come back to process the eerily relatable lyrics that open a new window into the artist’s mind.
John Conradi, the 23-year-old Niles native better known by his stage name, Huron John, describes his sound as “a wide grab-bag of alternative-pop/rock, electronic/dance, hip-hop and funk, all sort of bathed in a super colorful psychedelia,” which makes for an addicting listening experience. After racking up more than 35 million streams before album three, performing across the country on iconic stages like Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, and the sophisticated evolution of his sound and the elaborate storylines presented across his discography, John’s story is still being written.
In his latest album, which was recorded at more than 25 studio spaces across the country and is accompanied by a full-album-length visual movie, he pushes genres’ boundaries even further. Part one, Indigo Jack, is out now, while part two, The New World Border, drops early next year. But after getting a taste of the musical buffet that is Indigo Jack, I knew the world was about to experience a brand new Huron John.
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During a recent conversation with John, he tells me his latest album was inspired by life changes that “culminated in the phrase ‘become comfortable with being uncomfortable.’" Graduating from Belmont University and moving into a concrete commercial warehouse in L.A. to pursue music full time—on top of other major life events—are enough for a young person to crumble under the cracking pressure of reality, but for John, the chaos crashed down in a wave of creative inspiration. “This album symbolizes that previously mentioned phrase around comfort in the sense of an almost positive form of nihilism,” says John, who has been writing, producing and engineering his own tracks since he started releasing music—made in his bedroom and with no budget—in 2018.
“Our lifetimes are minuscule; our existence is like a grain of sand in a giant bucket. You could look at it like our existence matters less because of that, but really, Indigo Jack turns it into a lens that actually makes our existence much more meaningful and special. Once you can get past the fear that has always held you back, you unlock a whole new landscape of possibilities and experiences.” Wise beyond his years, John’s expert ability to translate common, complex concepts and experiences into beautifully crafted songs is comparable to that of relatable songstress-of-the-moment Taylor Swift.
Lyrics like “What do we do when the world goes crazy? / What do we do? We got no school … Life in squares, got a 'Gram addiction / But not the white; hey, Professor, you / Our camera's off and we're stoned on Zoom” offers one of the first acknowledgments I’ve heard of what life was truly like for young people during the pandemic lockdown. Contrasted with lines like “Sickness of the mind and body, they can be just as severe / Everything that we are fearful of is present in the mirror,” it’s clear John is hitting home among his listeners and becoming a voice of his generation.
“I never have chased some cure-all moment when every person on the earth loves my music. I have never wanted to be famous, and I don't want to be rich,” John says. “I’m after a discography wide-statement. Not to be morbid or depressing, but when I’m dead, I want to have 15 albums under the name Huron John that paint a huge portrait of the change a human being undergoes while living. That has always been the goal, and I think this album is a huge step in that process.”
Next up? “I’m definitely continuing the discography—I’m already somewhat deep into ideas for my fourth album, and we’re starting some pretty in-depth touring plans,” he reveals.
Even with all the future holds, including new vinyl, videos, a headline show at Schubas Tavern on Dec. 15 and more, John assures during this pivotal moment: “I just want to be present.”
Photography by: Photos courtesy of subject