Q&A With Brooklyn-Based Johnny Buffalo

Updated: Mar 25


Johnny Buffalo #1 Interview

Coming off the high of his debut EP release, professional beatboxer, guitarist and producer Johnny Buffalo has so much to share with a diverse array of fans and a growing musical expanse. Johnny takes his listeners on a flight of sonic experiences, from electronic trap and hip hop production, to fluid and intimate notes of rock and classical guitar, topped off with internationally-ranked beatboxing powers.


“Welcome to Buffalo (EP)” is readily available for streaming and purchase on RNB Music Spotlight and across all music platforms (Spotify, Pandora, iHeart, iTunes, etc.). The work contains two "sides", or tracks, like a conventional EP, and a bonus track, all produced, written, and mixed by Johnny himself. Much like his style, it is a piece of classical aesthetic and mindset that defies genre in all its facets. We were excited to sit down with Johnny and ask him about his monumental achievements.


Q - Tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from? What inspires you? What is

your daily life like?

A - I’m from Buffalo, NY originally, and have been living in NYC for a little over 7

years. I think music is one of the most inspiring forces on the planet. Humans use more

parts of our brains simultaneously just listening to music than any other activity that

exists, and being involved in performing uses even more. I also think beatboxing is

wildly inspiring. It has evolved so much, that it changes the way people view human

capability. A modern day beatboxer can make sounds and routines that only a computer

can replicate - but that computer would need to use programming to control aspects of

production that beatboxers can freestyle and control on the fly. I want to use this art

form as a way to inspire others...if I can make an 808 sound with my face, what can’t

you do? My daily life is far from ordinary, and always has been. I currently work for

Backtrack Vocals, an a cappella group based in NYC. We perform nationally and it’s

been an amazing opportunity to travel and work with them, compared to working in

restaurants for 5+ years in the city. In between Backtrack shows, I work mostly on my

solo music, while also performing around NYC and attending shows and beatboxing

events.


Q - What was the inspiration behind the EP?

A - The Welcome to Buffalo EP is the culmination of everything that I am as an artist.

I started playing guitar at age 14, and ended up studying classical guitar in college. My

senior year, my great friend Chris Celiz (@chrisceliz) taught me how to beatbox, which

changed my life. I really focused on beatboxing for the next 4 or so years, to try to get

that to a level that was close to the guitar. Once it was there, Chris asked me “who are

you as a solo artist?”, something I hadn’t really explored before. That began the process

of discovering what that was for me. In the early stages, I would loop beatbox trap beats

and play rock guitar over them. That evolved into this project, which consists of playing

synth guitar live, as well as clean and distorted guitar over production, and adding

beatboxing as well. The idea of performing electronic music live is something that

beatboxing opened my mind to, and ever since then, I’ve been striving to create a

unique, performance- based electronic music show.


Q - Why only 2 tracks?

A - Originally, I had 8 songs for my first project. These two were the most recent

tracks that I made, created about 8 months after any of the others. I had just returned

from the World Beatbox Championships in Berlin and World Beatbox Camp in Poland,

and was so inspired by these events that I made these two tracks within days after

returning. Earlier this year, a Tokyo-based producer friend Rhyme (@_rhyme_) listened

to the 8 song project, and she heard these two as a pair. She suggested releasing them

together as a side A/side B EP. I really liked this idea, because sonically, they were

different than all the rest. Also, I’m hugely influenced by classic rock, and the idea of a

nod to ‘45’s from back in the day was and idea that I really liked. This project is

something that’s quite unique from anything else out there, and I also thought that

releasing something on the shorter side would be a better introduction to my style.


Q - Why “Crestwood Ave”? Why “Auburn Ave”? Was there any significance in those

places, and/or choosing to name the tracks after these locations?

A- Crestwood Ave is the name of the street I grew up on in Buffalo, and where my parents

still live today. The middle section of the song has a bit of a nostalgic feel, with a clean

guitar section that acts as a nod to my classical studies. I chose Crestwood Ave as the

track name because to me, that middle section represents memories and feelings from

growing up on Crestwood Ave, with the heavier beginning and end of the track

representing the chaos that comes with adulthood. I also have one of the most

supportive families on the planet, and wanted to honor them by naming this track after

the street that our house is on. My mother’s parents’ house was on Auburn Ave, and we

were there a lot throughout my entire life. My grandfather John Cuffaro passed away

when I first moved to the city in 2012. My grandmother, Millie Cuffaro aka Mimi, passed

away at the beginning of this year. They were both huge parts of my life, so I wanted to

dedicate this track to them. Welcome to Buffalo has a double meaning. It’s an

introduction to my style, but also to two meaningful places from where I grew up.


Q - Tell us more about your personal connection to this project.

A - These two tracks were a breakthrough for me musically. When I first started

producing, songs would have 4 vastly different sections, because that’s how my brain

works - it’s all over the place. I started to limit myself in doing that, thinking of how

digestible the music would be to a listener if it didn’t have these crazy changes. I view

myself as having two major sides to my art - the heavy side (trap / hip hop and heavy

bass which inspires my beatboxing, and rock / metal), and the lighter side (classical

guitar, with prettier sounding chords and melodies, and more complex progressions).

These are two sides that I would keep separated - each track would be either fully one

way or the other, but never both. I always viewed these sides as kind of conflicting, in

that they were opposite of each other in a way. Crestwood Ave was the first time that

both sides existed simultaneously in a track, and that was the breakthrough. It became

an extremely significant message to me. We are all made up of different sides that

might conflict, and instead of trying to limit ourselves to one side or the other, we should

embrace all of them simultaneously, because that’s what makes us who we are.