By Camri Nelson
The Cincinnati Herald
Cincinnati Bright Award recipient Evan Johnson, better known as Young Ex, had never imagined himself with his own recording studio and producing music for well-known artists. Now, as the founder of Timeless Recordings, he hopes to expand his business and help aspiring artists and producers follow their dreams.
Johnson’s interest in music began as a child while growing up in North Avondale. Music provided him with an avenue to be creative, express his inner thoughts, and help educate people on social issues.
“You tell someone something and they don’t understand,” he said. “You put it in a song and suddenly it comes across the way it’s supposed to come across.”
As Johnson began to hone his musical talents people noticed his work and it was then that he realized just how talented he was.
“I knew that I was talented and had a gift when I realized that I brought the best out of people who didn’t believe in themselves,” he said.
Although he had support and gratitude from family and friends, he admits it was a challenge making a name for himself. He spent countless hours going to events, exchanging business cards, giving out his number, and promoting social media and in clubs. “It was overwhelming for sure, but it was definitely worth it,” he said.
His work didn’t stop there. He and his partner, Cameron Napier, better known as Smoove, began working on building their own recording studio. Johnson admits that the idea at first seemed farfetched because of their lack of finances, but with the help of his mentor Bill Caldwell, they could pull together some resources to create a polished finished product.
“He gave me the blueprint on how to create a studio that looks and sounds good,” Johnson said.
Once they had the game plan, Johnson began reaching out to family and friends to help him build the studio. Instead of paying a service, he provided food and drinks, and put everyone to work.
During this time, he remembered his now deceased friend, Paul Gibson, as one of the first people to help him build the studio.
Since the opening of the Timeless Recordings studio, Johnson has worked K Camp and produced the song “Blessing” which was featured on the 2017 film, “Unforgettable.’’ He has also worked with Lantana, Post Malone, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, and Mila J.
“I have a crush on Mila J and I was definitely in my feelings during that session,” he said.
Now, with establishing the recording studio being under his belt, Johnson’s plans are to expand, create podcasts, and promote his music. He has a new song out called “Tesla 20/20’’ with DJ J Dough, and a new album titled “Last November” which can be downloaded from ITunes, Spotify, and other digital media outlets.
Johnson’s other plans include continuing his efforts with his nonprofit, 1DAAT (www.1dayatatime.org), which is an organization that helps feed the homeless downtown every last Sunday of the month. Also, with the next studio expansion he plans to start another nonprofit that is geared toward providing an after-school audio production class for students who are aspiring artists and producers.
“I don’t want to stop kids from going to college, but I want to give them something so they can make a better decision on whether they need to go to college,” he said. “I just want to provide them with the tools that they need, because it’s really about networking.”
Johnson admits that the road to success is not easy, so his advice for aspiring artists and producers is to not be afraid of failure. He said he thinks that the best thing to do is embrace failure, and understand the purpose behind it. “Don’t let it affect it; don’t let it discourage you; and definitely don’t let it stop you,” he said. “Let it empower you; let it motivate you; let it drive you.”
It was his mentors like his life coach Vincent Brown, his business advisor Mr. Rodgers, and his father, who is his biggest mentor and accountant, who helped him realize that it’s okay to make mistakes just if you continue working toward success.
One of his most recent successes was receiving the Cincinnati Bright Award recipient for Entrepreneurship, which he says he is humbled and honored to have. He is happy to be recognized for his talent and hard work and looks forward to seeing more millennials being recognized in the future.
“I think that is what is going to keep our community moving forward. I think that’s going to produce more stars,’’ he said.