Knockabout Durham electropop, don’t stop
The Alan Bennett of hip hop, as nobody has ever called him. But more fool them, it’s the perfect description. “I’ve read a lot of his work out loud to my partner at bedtime,” admits this softly-spoken Durham idler, also citing Victoria Wood, US humourist David Sedaris and whimsical rapper Serengeti as influences. He shares their collective obsession with the intriguing minutiae of life. “I want to find a way to convey how complex and beautiful the world is,” he ponders.
“And focusing on the little things seems the best way to achieve that.”
WHY FAITHFUL JOHANNES?
There’s no shortage of “little things” on his new collection ‘Ken & Jean’, a bittersweet concept album about an on-off middle-aged couple. “In 1991 they had a holiday on the Med where Ken pretended to be a Hollywood actor and got special treatment,” explains Johannes.
“This became a hobby, and he began concocting schemes to blag anything from extra time at the bowling alley to a premature centenarian’s telegram from the Queen.”
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The album, set a few years after Jean left Ken (“She did a late-night runner from a holiday in North Yorkshire”), is a beautiful confection of gentle breakbeats, farty synths, 1960s pop flourishes and Johannes’ “barely rap”: an adorable mumble that reeks of tearooms, listless Tuesdays and a very British brand of drizzle-soaked desperation.
“An actual couple called Ken and Jean drink in my local pub,” he confesses. “But I only realised this afterwards.” Onstage, Johannes is frequently accompanied by a frilly standard lamp, an ironing board and a selection of hand-scrawled placards. “Faithful Johannes” is, of course, a character from a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. His real name is Tim.
‘Ken & Jean’ is out on Win Big