Can you imagine working with megastar music producers as a singer and songwriter at the age of 16? Imagine stepping into a studio with friends, and playfully recording some songs, not realising that this moment would set the tone for the rest of your life. That’s how music became the centre of Desmond John’s world.
At 16, Desmond John had no idea that he would soon become the young star behind the singles, I Mean That, and You Don’t have to Worry. Born to a British father and a South African Mother in Frankfurt, Germany, on 28 December 1998, Desmond John certainly had exposure to diverse musical influences and inherited his love for singing from his family. He was named after both of his grandfathers, one of whom was a singer, and the other, a teacher and poet.
At the age of 6, Desmond John’s family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, where they lived for seven years before moving to Cape Town, which he regards as his home. This young man’s talents extend far beyond music as he was scouted to play soccer in Munich, Germany for a year at the age of 14 but knew that he didn’t want to pursue a football career and returned to South Africa. A short six months after returning to SA, Desmond John and a friend were recording some songs in a Johannesburg studio, and by chance were overheard by an American comedian on tour in South Africa. He recalls just delving into music since he played the piano and guitar, but never thought that it would develop into a career.
That one studio meeting, led Desmond John to Atlanta, Georgia in the United States where he met his first producer Tip Green, who then introduced him to superstar scout and producer, DJ Toomp, who has worked with the likes of Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Rick Ross, T.I. and Jay Z. Desmond John’s talent scored him a development deal with DJ Toomp and he was allowed to stay with Green for two years, to nurture his art. “I’ll be eternally grateful to Tip for what he did for me and I wouldn’t exchange the experience for anything in the world.” While visiting his family back in South Africa, Desmond John received news that Green had fallen ill and died suddenly.
It was a difficult time to say the least – he not only lost a manager, but someone he considered a close friend. “Song writing was definitely my saving grace and the best therapy possible. I devoted myself to my music and the songs just flowed. Through this process I grew as an artist and developed my own sound. My first EP – I’m Not Angry, Just Disappointed – is the result,” he says.
Desmond John’s original music has already been streamed on Spotify close to 200 000 times (Aug 2018). His successful UK tour, where he performed across the country, gave us a glimpse into the global fanbase he has already attained.
Watch Desmond John’s latest music video, here.