Portland Musicians Corner With Sonic Szilvi – Henery “Henn XL” Johnson

Henn XL is a talented singer/songwriter who gets his inspiration from the reality of the daily life. Real, passionate, provoking, loving. His music is a blend of soulful alternative rock with Hip-Hop, blues, jazz and gospel inflections with tough message.

Sonic Sz: Thank you for doing this interview for the Freeform Portland Blog readers! When you messaged me you mentioned you were new to Portland and excited to be part of the Portland music scene. Where did you move from and what were your experiences there as a musician? 

A: I want to thank you for this opportunity. I truly appreciate it. I am originally from Chicago. Brought up in Child Services. Where I was fortunate to be around different walks of life and musical tastes. Music has always been a place I can go inside of my mind for peace, reflection, and spiritual rejuvenation. I have had the honor of performing in subways and streets, connecting with the “invisible people”. I chose Portland to begin a new chapter in my musical journey. I am a proud member of the Rainbow Family Of Living Light and I use the ideology of love & light in the music that is made. Portland is a great music city and I am looking forward to being a contributing member of the culture here musically and beyond.

Sonic Sz: When did you first find yourself interested in making music? Was there anyone special who inspired you?

A: the first time I heard my uncle sing with his group I had goosebumps from the emotions that were being displayed. The passion and execution in which was presented. He is one of the reasons why I will never stop. My aunt Irene is also a big inspiration. I remember sitting at her feet listening to her sing to some mysterious individual on the other end of the phone and seeing the joy that it brought her even though she had lost everything. Donny Hathaway is my oxygen.

Sonic Sz: You are currently working on a solo album “Rhythm & Blood ”. Can you tell me a little about this project? What can we expect?

A: Rhythm & Blood will be a 12 track testimonial of the direction that my life has taken after extreme adversity. It will be an experience that will cross genre lines. I believe that we have to put our all in what we love, hence the name Rhythm & Blood. I am looking to collab, so please, hit me up.

Sonic Sz: What is your favorite place to play music? A music venue? Open air? Private house party? Street festival?...

A: I enjoy them all because of the constant energy that is given and received. The opportunity to be face to face and in the same space while the spirit of creativity surrounds and elevates us.

Sonic Sz: So far we’ve read about Henn XL the singer/songwriter/musician. But who is Henery Johnson? What are your interests besides music?

A: Henery Johnson is a survivor, and I am interested in the plight of the “Invisible People,” homeless, mentally ill, physically disabled, at risk youth, the elderly, ex offenders. I am a professional mover and hauler and the company I work with, Supportive Services, deal with a lot of these cases. I am very proud to be a part of this. I am also working on a non-profit program titled H.E.I. (Homeless Entrepreneurs Initiative) and I am a strong advocate against domestic violence. I recorded a song called “Enjoy Yourself” that is aimed towards this perplexity. So, if there is any organization out there that I can volunteer my abilities for, please get in contact with me.

Sonic Sz: Summer heat. Yay or nay?

A: Spring and fall are my favorite seasons. It’s a combination of both and that’s pleasant to me. But, I also believe that we should not let the weather be an excuse for not trying to improve our situations in whatever capacity that may be. Some of my best ideas and motivation has come from being out in the rain.

Sonic Sz : Now a fun fantasy question. You find a treasure map inside a bottle that a wave just washed out on the beach. You are intrigued. You decide to follow the instructions on the map and finally find the hidden treasure. What did you find?

A: I found a recording studio where all of the deceased musicians are working on new music.

This concludes this interview, again, thank you for introducing yourself to us and welcome to Portland!

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DJ Sonic Szilvi, a European native, joined the Portland music scene a few years ago, currently playing bass for two active bands and one on hiatus. She recently joined the Freeform Portland family as a DJ. Sonic Szilvi hosts the weekly show Dark Noise Radio