Interviews

Cody Johns Dishes on Steamy New Single, “Trust Me”

Triple-threat actor, recording artist, and digital content creator Cody Johns has released his third single this year, “Trust Me.” Here, he talks about the deeper meaning of the song and opens up about his past two singles, “Tropical Romance” and “There You Are.” Cody has been making a splash as an up-and-coming pop/ R&B artist who’s also getting recognized on the Hollywood scene. Here he shares the hilarious story of how he landed his role on I Am Number Four and the rewarding challenges he faced with his his latest acting project “Dimension 404.” Cody Johns is also known for the adorable vlogs he and his wife Lexy create on their YouTube channel. Read on to learn how Lexy has inspired Cody’s love songs (*sigh*), where you can see him live and his next single coming your way.

Tell me a little bit about the meaning behind your new single, “Trust Me.”

Yeah, I mean the song is basically about someone who’s been kind of talking with someone who’s kind of had a rough relationship past, and even though at first glance you think the song is about mostly about physical, but actually, it’s more about trusting someone who really is a good person. And understanding that maybe this girl or guy has had like a rough past with a bad ex-girlfriend or bad ex-boyfriend. The song is kind of out there for all the good guys—that’s who I wrote it for. Just telling the girl like, ‘Trust me, I’m not like the rest.’ We live in a world where people have had rough pasts, rough relationships, and I think it’s good to point out the good guys that are out there that will treat a girl right.

Did that come from a friend or a personal experience?

It came sort of from a friend. Sometimes when you tell people you write songs, people expect it’s all about you. Like it’s only an experience you could’ve had. But probably half the stuff I write is a situation that I’ve experienced or seen from someone I know. I write a lot of songs about forgiveness and redemption and I even write some Christian songs, and it’s not necessarily all about me, but I write about faith and spiritual stuff and sometimes it’s about other people. It’s not all about other people, a lot of it is about me and my love journey and my relationship that I’m in with my wife, but I’m also inspired by things that didn’t directly have to do with me.

Right, so for your other singles that came out this summer, “There You Are” and “Tropical Romance,” where did those inspirations stem from?

Even though the three song are love songs in their own right, experience-wise, I would say “There You Are” was a direct personal experience because that sort of had to do with the long-distance relationship that I had with my girlfriend at the time, she’s my wife now, and how she was always on my mind because she couldn’t always be there physically in person with me [during] some kind of rough times when I got to L.A., when I kind of had nobody. So that song was kind of like, I could kind of take a second and think about her being there with me, and that was almost as good as her being there with me. “Tropical Romance” is the same type of situation. Basically, the song is about how you don’t really have to go somewhere or spend a lot of money to have a romantic experience with someone you love, because if you really love them, anything you do with them is enough. So “Tropical Romance” is about you disappearing to a place with them—you can just imagine that you’re among the palm trees, and you don’t have to necessarily be there. A lot of times, with my wife, when I was out here in L.A. trying to pursue entertainment, we’d have to split a plane ticket. It was rough. We couldn’t really do many fun things because we had to spend the money to just get her out here. But like, you don’t have to stay in a Malibu bed and breakfast. You don’t need to go on an extravagant trip or spend a lot of money. As long as she was with me, I was having a great time and we were still in love and that’s really what mattered. So the songs are all kind of woven in similar ways, they’re all love songs.

When did you start creating faith-based songs?

Those were some of the first songs I made. I really got inspired listening to a lot of gospel music when I was in college in Gainesville, Florida. I was the worship pastor essentially of this church and it was a very, very small church. I’m talking like 20 people. But I would still do the music for it and I was getting paid, I would make like $50 a week every Sunday to do it, so it was a great job for me and it was also a great thing I was doing, getting involved in the church. So during that time I was listening to a lot of gospel music, and that’s why a lot of my favorite artists are like Fred Hammond and Marvin Sapp and these gospel artists, because to pump myself up before going to church to play these songs I would sing their songs. And even though they’re these incredible singers, I would sing along and it actually trained me to be a better tenor singer because they sing very tenor, these guys, Marvin Sapp and Fred Hammond. So after awhile I started kind of writing my own spiritual gospel songs about God and stuff, and it was cool, because they were really bad back then. Like, I didn’t know proper song structure, so sometimes I would write songs like of the old style, how songs were written back then in the ‘20s and ‘30s, where there were like no choruses, just like four or five stanzas, like poetry. More like kind of hymns. But it was really cool for me ‘cause I got to learn what the gospel chords were on the piano, because I produce my stuff on the piano. I think the second next release I’m gonna do is gonna be a song called “Pray For Me,” and I wouldn’t say it’s a gospel song but it is very spiritual and I think it will relate to a lot of people. I don’t wanna be limited to genres, necessarily. I would like to be an artist who can do both and be accepted by both genres and listeners. Maybe my songs are not all Christian songs or all spiritual songs, but I still consider myself a Christian artist because I am a Christian and I do music. It’s not always songs about God, it’s songs about love and relationships. I like to be multi-dimensional because I like so many different genres of music.

So could you see yourself going more in that direction? Or do you want your future to have this balance where you can dip into different types of music?

I really wanna relay a message, that’s what I want to do. I want to promote good values and fun. I want to do mostly happy songs and upbeat songs. I feel like I’m going to reach more people doing pop music, or more mainstream sound, or R&B. I want to reach as many people as I can and that’s kind of the goal of the church—we want to reach as many people as we can. The thing is if I were to only make Christian music all the time, it would reach the Christian music listeners, and that’s fine, but I feel like if my greater cause is to reach as many people as I can and show people who God is and set the best example I can, then I want to reach the kids who are listening to pop and mainstream type of music.

Cody Johns
Photo by Jon Sams

Yeah, you can hit a wider audience and keep that same message. And you’re also not boxed into what kind of art you create because you’re also an actor! You had two projects come out this summer, most recently, so what have been your top few favorite acting experiences?

I think my favorite experiences were probably the first project I ever did, when I was like 20 years old, and then the most recent project I did, which came out this summer, “Dimension 404.” The first film I ever did, and I’d been acting when I was younger, but my first breakout role in a feature film was I Am Number Four, and that shot in the Florida Keys. I got casted out of Florida, which is funny, I didn’t go to the audition. They were asking people to send in audition tapes and back then I didn’t have a camera that was good enough quality to make an audition tape, and my family was already in the Keys on vacation at the time. My agent was like, ‘If you wanna do this role, you’re gonna have to film an audition tape and send it in.’ And I was like, well, all I have is my iPhone. He was like, ‘Just do it.’ So I send in an iPhone video—not even filmed sideways, filmed up and down—and against all odds I booked that movie, off an iPhone video, which is like an incredible story. My family always jokes about it like, ‘You should just film all your auditions on an iPhone.’ So that was a crazy story, and a lot of crazy things happened. The shoot was only supposed to be one week in the Keys and I played a friend of the main character. We were doing a Jet Ski scene and a beach party scene, it was more of a beachy vibe since we were shooting down in the Keys. I had a few lines which was cool and I got to work with D.J. Caruso, who is a huge director. He directed Disturbia with Shia LaBeouf and most recently XXX, the movie with Vin Diesel. So that being my first ever film with that type of director, and I was also working alongside Alex Pettyfer, who’s a huge actor himself, was a great experience. I was very nervous. It was like the first thing I’d ever done. I never forgot on camera what my lines were, but I was forgetting them, and I’d be like, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, I have two lines! Why can’t I remember my two lines!’ Because I was just so nervous—there were like three huge movie cameras in front of me and a crew of like 60 people. This was a big budget film, it was like a $50 million film. So that was my first favorite experience, and my most recent was this series “Dimension 404.” I think it was the series finale where I had to play, in this post-apocalyptic / video gamer type of episode, I had to play a character—and it’s funny, but I don’t know why, in all the roles I always play the bad guy. I’ve played a normal guy in like one or two things. Like a normal, regular good guy. But most roles I get I’m either playing the d-bag, the bad boyfriend, the bad influence, or I play the evil character. It started off like I was a normal character, just like a bully, cocky, gamer, and then it turns post-apocalyptic and I become the bad guy. So that was probably the biggest role that I’ve had to date, with like lines and camera time. And I got to play this very strange character, and I feel like I’m a very chill, normal guy. Not too out of the box. I’m not even super animated or all over the place. I consider myself creative, but I’m not like a Jim Carrey type where I’m like all over the place, smiling and making jokes. But for this role I had to bring out this dark, strange character. Like, the director had me doing these weird growls when I’m saying lines to the girl, to like scare her, stuff that was so unnatural for me. But the way it was put together and edited, it came out super dope and I’m so glad I did it. So those were my favorite experiences, my first ever movie and my most recent project, “Dimension 404.”

I love you and your wife’s vlogs, how did you guys start doing that?

You know we didn’t even start it like, this could be a job. That was never a thought for us. We really just wanted to do something together. We’ve always loved filming together. Obviously like if I filmed this by myself or if I filmed with other people, I was never as happy as when I filmed with her. So videos that are more couple-focused, relationship-focused, family-focused, you know. After we started our channel, it’ll be two years ago in January, we created the channel then. But we didn’t start posting until I think later that summer, so it’ll be two years since we created the channel but it’ll be about a year and a half since we started posting videos. So it’s been a long time and we’ve made a lot of videos, and we ended up growing and getting a ton of subscribers. So it was kind of cool because we got to create this brand and make videos together, and the fans will support us in whatever we do, which is amazing.

So musically you’ve been dropping a lot of singles. Do you see an album or EP coming out in the future?

Yeah, I think I do want to work towards an album. I know the medium has changed in the way that people release music, so I think I’d like to gain a little more momentum, a little more buzz, and then once I have the attention of like all of my fans at the same time, so that they know this is a real thing. I’m still breaking out like with fans, like, ‘Oh is he working towards something? Is this a long-term music career?’ So I want to release an album or an EP at some point, just because that’s kind of the classic way things are released. Fans will support a project because it’s more special to them since it’s coming all at once. There’s more to look at. I just want to keep working, keep building, and the right time will come.

Cody Johns
Photo by Jon Sams

So what’s immediately up next for you?

Probably another single in January. I have a couple shows coming up. I have my first show in L.A. on December 12th. I’m doing a showcase/ show so like I’m also selling tickets and fans are gonna be coming out as well as industry so that’ll be cool. And then I’m doing a benefit show in Chicago two days later. My band is based on Chicago, so it’s really easy for them, and it’s like for a good cause. So I have shows almost back-to-back. I want to go out and play more live, obviously we’re working towards getting more shows to get that live experience. I really wanna hit the road and make fans based on live performance stuff.

Want to say anything to your fans?

Yeah, I just want to say thanks so much for the support. More music coming. This has been amazing so far. And shoutout to the Stream Team! The Stream Team are my fans who, whenever I post a song, they go out and stream it on repeat, which is so funny and amazing because it helps a lot when your song comes out of the gate with a lot of streams. So, I love my #StreamTeam!

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Victoria Moorwood

Victoria Moorwood is a music journalist located in San Diego. Her favorite genres are hip hop and rap, but she appreciates all music and the way it brings people together. She also blogs about travel and lifestyle, hosts a news radio show, and enjoys surfing in her free time. Follow Victoria on Twitter @vic_land