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Who is Daniel Johns: Podcast Review

In Spotify Original Podcast, Who is Daniel Johns, host Kaitlyn Sawrey’s interviews with Daniel Johns alternate playing out like raw conversations between friends, and monologues of Dan reading out diary entries.

Sometimes it felt invasive to listen to something so intimate. Being exposed to the innermost workings of a creative mind makes you feel like you could be prepared for anything he puts out. However, if this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of him then this podcast may help unpack any expectations you may have, however nostalgically rooted they may be.

There is an undercurrent of constant comparisons to Silverchair, which is understandable as his creative career started on such a high. However, it becomes apparent within the first episode how potent such a catapult into fame can be. By the final episode, you will find out that when you ask the man himself “who is Daniel Johns?” the answer is that he doesn’t want to be famous. He wants to be an artist.

The episodes in between contain, inter alia, tales of substance abuse, stalking, self-harm. These dark anecdotes of fame would make even the most celebrity-fanatical listener shift uncomfortably in their seat. However, if you can sit through that, then you will be exposed to the inner workings of a brilliant mind in a way which is possibly only enabled by the long-form nature of podcasts.

Daniel Johns. Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

In this series of interviews between the host Kaitlyn Sawrey and Dan, there is a slew of guests that have been on the journey with Dan throughout his endeavours. Rather than name dropping people like What So Not, Kevin Parker, Van Dyke Parks, Billy Corgan, or Natalie Imbruglia, each guest candidly provides insight into how they collaborated with or understood his creative process. Rather than feeling like pieces of a puzzle coming together, they feel more like chapters in a book.

Don’t be fooled by the chronological and candid nature of the podcast, as this does not end with a neatly wrapped package with a bow on top. It’s not until the end of the first 5 episodes that you realise the book is still being written. 

Dan sums it up quite well himself when explaining why he doesn’t want to be inducted into the ARIA hall of fame: “I don’t want to be in the hall of fame until I’m dead… (nor) for something that’s not finished.”

This podcast poses the question “Who is Daniel Johns?” but it doesn’t really answer this question, rather answers “what has Daniel Johns done?” with potential insight into what he might do in the future.

There is a teaser that he could collaborate with Kevin Parker, and the reserved response from the Perthian producer could possibly be an attempt to avoid imposing expectations, and risk dulling the magic that repulses Dan from performing at the moment.

However, I prefer Dan’s answer to what’s next – continuing to love the people he loves and do anything creative that makes his heart sing. After such a profound insight into this creative, and the timing of this podcast to precede the release of upcoming music, you can’t help but be hungry for his next offering to the world.