The situation In the early hours of Wednesday, Sept. 22, I'm at the Comet with Nouela Johnston, the 24-year-old songwriter, pianist, and vocalist of People Eating People, her eloquent and charming solo project featuring a backing band of three friends.
People Eating People With Kelli Schaefer, Kaylee Cole. Columbia City Theater, 4918 Rainier Ave. S. $10. 9 p.m. Sat., Oct. 2.
Intoxication We're sitting in the Comet's balcony drinking Pabst from a fast-dwindling icebox provided by the bar. Johnston admits she's not much into the bar scene these days—"not since I got the dog." That'd be Presto, her Shiba Inu/husky mix. Photos of Presto and my dog James are swapped and cooed over.
How She Got Here Johnston teaches voice and piano lessons at the West Side Music Academy. "If the kids want to learn, it's fun," she says. "If not, I teach them Katy Perry songs or something."
Shop Talk Now that the first People Eating People LP—an intense firecracker of a record showcasing Johnston's banging keys and warbling vocals—has been released, Johnston's writing new material and planning a move to Brooklyn. There, she says, "You either make it or you move back home."
"I don't want to be a casual musician," she continues. "I feel like so many people in Seattle are just fucking off. They're totally cool with having the same 20 people show up to all of their shows. I think they're just lying to themselves. Why are you in a band if you don't want to [do it] full-time?"
BTW: Johnston's right arm has a self-drawn tattoo of Mary Poppins holding hands with the Morton Salt girl. She also paints and has recently been developing her Microsoft Paint skills. In one portrait, a friend is standing in the ocean playing guitar as a glowing sun sets and dolphins leap in the background. In another, a friend she describes as "an English nerd" lies snuggled in bed with a giant semicolon. The pictures are as quirky and expressive as Johnston herself.