A Steamboat grad could win big at the 2023 Grammys next week
Maybe you haven’t heard the name Tyler Johnson, but you’ve certainly heard his work. The 2004 Steamboat Springs High School graduate has worked as a writer, producer and engineer with renowned artists such as Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, John Legend and more.
Most recently, his work with global phenomenon Harry Styles on “Harry’s House” has Johnson nominated for a trio of Grammys in three of the four biggest categories.
Johnson, Styles and all who worked on the project are nominated for Album of the Year, as well as Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “As It Was.”
“It feels really good to have the music that I’ve worked on be validated by the musical community,” Johnson said. “And it’s a real honor to be alongside the kind of artists that are nominated this year as well.”
With his three nominations this year, Johnson is now a five-time Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter. He will find out on Feb. 5 if he will be able to change that title to Grammy-winning producer and songwriter.
“I’ve lost enough of these things to just have fun and be appreciative to just be there,” Johnson said. “Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. … The best part about this is the crew we made the album with — we’re all really good friends and we all love each other.”
Johnson made much of the album alongside Kid Harpoon, or Tom Hull. The pair just collaborated on “Flowers,” the lead single off of Miley Cyrus’ upcoming album, “Endless Summer Vacation.” The song was the fastest to reach 100 million streams on Spotify and broke records as the most streamed song in a week.
The combination of that song and “Harry’s House” has multiplied Johnson’s success “in an extreme way.”
“You have to take it all though with a gracious attitude and just be glad that it’s happening,” he said. “It can change and go away, and it can sustain. All of that is a little bit outside of my control.”
Johnson started his career in Los Angeles as an assistant to Grammy-winning producer Jeff Bhasker. In 2015, Johnsons signed as a producer to Bhasker and moved to Nashville.
He earned critical acclaim for his work with Cam, a rising country artist who was managed by another 2004 SSHS graduate, Lindsay Marias. Her song “Burning House” was nominated for Music Video of the Year and Song of the Year at the 2016 Country Music Awards and Best Country Solo Performance at the 2016 Grammys.
“That going No. 1 was probably the proudest moment of my career, looking back, because that was me proving my capabilities without a super star attached,” Johnson said.
In 2019, Harry Styles released his second studio album, “Fine Line,” a project that Johnson contributed a lot of work into, earning a writing credit on 10 of the 12 songs, including the hits “Golden” and “Adore You.”
A few years later, “Harry’s House” came out, and once again, Johnson’s fingerprints were all over it, as he earned writing credit on 10 out of the 13 tracks, including “As It Was” and “Daylight.” He also contributed background vocals and his talent on horn, keyboards, piano, bass guitar, electric guitar, synthesizer, drum machine and organ.
“I think we delivered on ‘Fine Line,’ and artists have a tendency to go with what’s working,” Johnson said.
He said writing and producing for him looks a lot like jamming and creating new sounds and playing around with songs. He’s always been attracted to strong lyrics and melodies, and strives to find the sweet spot between a song that’s well-produced and can be played endlessly on the radio, but also sounds great on an acoustic guitar.
“Songs like that have a certain texture and feel to them,” he said. “But you want to balance that with making something the artists will want to sing when they’re 50 doing a tour … making something that feels more timeless.”
He said that seeing his parents pursue their passion for physical therapy in Steamboat and growing up in a town that allows so many to follow their dreams provided the perfect foundation for his career in music.
“It’s not just a bunch of rich kids in a ski town. It’s got different facets of life and people from different backgrounds — agriculture and working class,” Johnson said. “Being in a mountain town, it could have been isolated, but I feel familiar with different types of people and I feel appreciative of that. … It really mattered to me, in doing my job, understanding that people are intrinsically different and understanding that growing up.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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