JOHAN ERRAMI aka 'Red Jacket' is a French music producer, songwriter and DJ based in Los Angeles. Originally from Lyon, France, he started to learn music programming when he was studying Finance in Business School. Juggling between both disciplines, he decided to fully dedicate his life to music production and DJing after graduating from Lumière University Lyon 2 in 2012 with a Master Degree in Market Finance. Since then, he’s relocated to the US and worked with artists like Ivy Queen, Sofia Reyes, Fuego, Emilia Mernes, malu Trevejo and many more. He has co-written tracks and albums that have topped French, Russian, US, South American, dozens of other regions, as well as YouTube, charts.
Who or what inspired you to start writing music?
When I was a teenager, my idols were music producers: Dr. Dre, Max Martin, Brian Eno, The Neptunes, Timbaland, Scott Storch… All the amazing musicians that were behind my favorite songs. I knew about them after reading the liner notes of CDs I was buying. The fact that there is a team of people behind these songs intrigued me so much that it led me to want to know how they do it. Later on, when I was 16 years old a friend introduced me to the music software Fruity Loops, known now as FL Studio. I wanted to do my own tracks and blend all my different influences in them. Making music immediately became a passion, I removed all the distractions out of my life and started spending all my time crafting instrumentals after school. That’s how it all started.
How would you describe your writing or musical style? Who or what has helped influence this style?
I produce and write a little bit of everything, from Hip Hop and R&B to Pop, Latin Music, and Afrobeat. I also did a lot of French folk and worked on some alternative Rock-influenced projects. I definitely have a very eclectic musical background, I was introduced to a wide range of different music genres very early on. As a kid, my father had this huge collection of US and French Pop and Rock vinyl and CDs, while my mother was listening to more traditional North African music and classical French folk songs. My French background plays a role in it too, there’s much more crossover between musical genres on the radio in Western Europe. For example, you'll be surprised if I tell you that Afrobeat was already trendy on French radios in the late 90’s/early 2000s!
You recently relocated from France to Los Angeles, how has this transition been beneficial to your music career?
After having success in France for co-writing ‘J’ai Cherché’ of Amir and ‘Les Yeux de Ia Mama’ of Kendji, I decided to take a step further in coming to Los Angeles. I turned down big offers from all the major publishers in Paris, I wanted to be fully immersed and understand from the ground up how the music business works here. This transition has been beneficial in a lot of different aspects. First, my work ethic evolved a lot. The songwriting scene is very crowded, songwriters from all around the world are trying to come to LA to make it on the global scale, so it pushes you to open up and leave your comfort zone. Technically speaking, I had to rethink the way I was programming my drum patterns for instance. US Pop, in general, is more rhythmic driven than in France, the French pop scene being mostly made of guitar-driven singer-songwriter projects. Hip Hop here is much more sub-bass driven too. All these little things combined constitute the cultural gap between the two markets. Relocating to the US also allowed me to get closer to the source of the Reggaeton and perfect my Latin Pop skills in general, Miami being the main hub of Reggaeton and Latin Pop in the world.
What has your experience been like to be a part of Vibes Music Group?
It's been a blessing! Chaz (CEO of VMG) and me started working together in early 2019. What made me want to be a producer/songwriter in the first place is my admiration for the music producers who inspired me when I started making music, and The Fliptones (the production duo that Chaz was a part of until 2019) was one of them. Being now mentored by Chaz himself and making music with him every day is a dream coming true! We meet at the studio every day to create track ideas, then we start developing song concepts on the ones we like the most. Every day from Monday to Friday, often on the weekends too. We want to make sure we’re always prepared for new briefs and label requests. But the main reason we do this is simply that we're passionate about it. We’re like kids in a candy store every day, with keyboards and studio gear as the candies! Also, Joey Gandolfo (Head of A&R of Vibes Music Group) is at the studio with us every day making sure everything is organized and deadlines are met. He gives us feedback and pushes us whenever we lose speed.
You’ve produced for a few artists including Fuego, Emilia Mernes, Sofia Reyes, Youtube's The Ace Family, and Malu Trevejo. How did you connect to these artists and what was your experience like working with them?
'Sin Parar' for Fuego’s album ‘You’re Welcome' (that magazine Rolling Stone ranked it in its ‘Best Latin Album of 2019’ list) started after I played him a few tracks at the Circle House Studios in Miami, one night in winter 2018. Him and his producer Lluyo were really inspired by one of them, they kept it and finished the song a few weeks later. Fuego is considered as the pioneer of the Latin Trap movement, it was really an honor to collaborate with him on the song. It also features the up-and-coming rappers Lyanno and Eladio Carron, the future of the urban latin scene (both just hopped on J Balvin's US tour last year).
I connected with Emilia Mernes when she visited LA last year after Chaz and Joey organized a writing session with her through her management. Chaz and I co-produced and co-wrote ‘Billion’ during our very first session. Same goes for the Ace Family songs, they organized the session and we collaborated on creating the theme of their Vlog series. ‘Whatever You Like’. We also produced their debut single, and their last single 'Onyl One'. 'Giddy Up' was number one trending on Youtube the very first day of its release, and gathered 6 million views in less than 8 hours which was insane.
I also produced the 2 original songs for Sofia Reyes ‘Brave’ and ‘You’ for the TV show ‘The Bold Type’. The synopsis of the second episode of Season 4 is built around the 2 songs, I really liked the concept. It happened after the shooting team of The Bold Type asked Sofia to feature in an episode of the show and write 2 songs for that episode. Charlie Guerrero, Sofia's manager, reached out to Chaz Mishan and Shari Short to do it. Both have a really great creative chemistry and worked with before (on singles 'RIP' feat. Anitta and Rita Ora and 'A Tu Manera' feat Jhay Cortez). Chaz, who at that time was in Japan for sessions, asked me to do it with Sofia and Shari. We did 'You' during the first session. We were joined by Thomas Augusto for the second session and 'Brave' came up pretty organically out of it, it was written and recorded in a couple of hours. We finalized the songs with Chaz when he came back to LA and sent them to Warner who instantly loved both of them. The process was very successful, it went really smoothly despite the team being on 2 different continents.
How did you first hear about Songtrust and how has your experience with us been so far?
I first heard about Songtrust through my A&R Joey Gandolfo, who got me into it to make sure I don’t miss out on collecting my publishing royalties and mechanical rights. The experience with you guys has been really good so far. The platform is great, very intuitive, and easy to use. I highly recommend all songwriters to use it.
Did you have any prior knowledge about music publishing?
Yes, I gathered information over the years through all the song registrations I had to do in my career, I needed to know more about music publishing to understand the process and know better how we’re getting paid as songwriters. I also got knowledge from A&R's I collaborated with, friends of mine that are music publishers themselves, and online. I still want to get more knowledge, we never know enough.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming creators navigating the music industry?
Try to create every day, make it a habit. It helps develop automatisms that will make you better. Study the core of the craft, analyze the journey of the most successful creators. Take inspiration from theirs to shape yours, connect with a lot of other creators to help each other, and last but not least, to not say most importantly: have faith and never give up. Everything pays off with persistence, consistency, and sacrifices.
The world is currently experiencing unrest, what or who is helping you to stay inspired to continue writing music? Have you personally done or taken part in other creator’s isolation inspiration projects to help pass the time?
I try to stay persistent at creating every day, and to stay inspired I take a break and try to do one thing that can be hard for creatives: appreciate the art without the creator point of view. It helps me a lot to regenerate the flow of ideas and take me away from overthinking the creative part. Reading, watching a new show or simply being on the phone with friends and family help a lot to disconnect and pass the time when I feel uninspired.