We were lucky to catch up with Johnny Jackson recently and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Johnny, thanks for joining us today. Do you feel you or your work has ever been misunderstood or mischaracterized? If so, tell us the story and how/why it happened and if there are any interesting learnings or insights you took from the experience?
Something i have always been told by many people, is that raw passion is first misunderstood. In both worlds I live in, passion and drive are not understood. Whether it be in personal or professional life. My experiences have always started out as “wow, you’re so nice”. It always used to baffle me because i used to think, Damn, ‘was i supposed to be mean? More often than not I finally get an explanation, and it usually starts with usually athletes, or someone who looks like you hasn’t been nice to me in the past. I always used to get a bit bothered. I was taught growing up respect and love are mutual, they are initially given. In our day and age of social media and instant gratification, everyone wants to be seen, boosted, adored by thousands and no one really wants to live in the moment. It is as if every ounce of life has to be perceived between those megapixels. Yes it has helped in ways, but interpersonal communication, validation, and perceptions have all changed. I am coming up on my retirement from running with Team USA and trying to make the olympic teams, and now transitioning to Djing, nationally within the states and internationally. It has been a journey learning people from all around the world, and their struggles, successes, and triumphs. All in all, it has shaped me to continue to being a guy who is passionate, driven, and a beacon of light to people who really need it.
Johnny, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
If perseverance, drive, and raw grit could be tied into a person, it would be me. I have always been a pretty grounded guy. I do what needs to be done to get the job done. ‘I kind of had a natural affinity to running, I began running at 5, then moved to working hard, and by hard i mean David Goggins before he became a national symbol of hard work. I saw a vision of myself after watching the 08 Beijing ceremony and I said to myself. I want to do that. I got a scholarship to run in college, won a state title struggled immensely in my college freshman year because of a horrible coach, but amazing teammates and life long friends. Then transitioned to the pros ran my first pro race in France, I remember being so shocked to have gotten a 4th place finish and received money for winning. That is when my career and passion took me to race against legends of the sport, as well as meet, train and even become very good friends with some. Even so eight year later still with my best friend and training partner in track and field Sierra Castleberry. Djing, that happened on my visit back to the states to visit my brother. I was working part time with my kids non profit, and a guy came up to me and asked me to DJ. I fell in love with the energy I received as well as the output of love and passion i gave back. This helped me cope with the athlete side sort of a creative outlet. This year after covid i decided to start doing bars and clubs, because previously I had done corporate and i have received nothing short of pure love. The thing i want my clients and people to know is that, I am a believer of if you take time out of your life to get ready and spend money, I want you to go home and be like, “damn I cant wait until next week”. My stage name is DJ Phonixx, and it is literally because I love when people receive the good vibes and energy and I want them hooked on the feeling of forgetting, even if it is for four hours all the troubles life puts a person through. Happiness is truly my goal for everyone to have after they leave my performances.
The one thing potential clients, fans who have followed me for years through everything know that, I want you to dance, shout, scream, just be yourself when you come to a performance, Above that, you will experience music from EVERY culture because the world is not just pop music, or hip hop, or country western. The world is tejano, french, trance, spanish, kpop, arab, hindi. I always intend on taking people through a journey of music every time I step on stage.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
The story of just me trying to get sponsors. It started with me going after big brands , then I thought hey, they dont need more more smaller businesses do. That in turn led me to partnering with On Point Acupuncture and Wellness, led by Kalpesh Patel out of Southlake, Texas, @voyagernation for all my clothing. Even in DJing, I went bar to bar emailing, getting no traction then I got one residency, that turned into more and more then eventually led me to being apart of asian led DJing group @dfw_partythieves , working with amazing event promoters such as @lezeri_entertainment, and @topshotentertainment, and now we do just about every bar in dallas. My biggest advice is to go for what make you happiest at the end of the day. The money will come, but do what makes you smile and makes your heart happy.
: Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
Being half asian and black, my whole life I have been sort of a chameleon. In a sense of adapt to your surroundings, and then lead and shape them outcome. My creative journey I have lost people along the way, I have gotten to the point of where I had to let some people go. I have been copied, let down, but young people need to know IT IS LIFE. Life happens but the difference is always will you sit in the drivers seat and put the pedal to the metal, or will you just let the car take you wherever it decides. My personal goal is to connect every culture and its people with music that they love to show it off and to cherish it. More often than not in America tradition isnt praised culture is kind of deemed as something another country shouldn’t embrace when they come to the states. I want to change that narrative.
- Instagram: @johnnyl.jacksonjr & @djphonixx
Trina Nguyen Felix Castillo