As Cincinnati born and bred R&B/hip hop musician Johnny Audley Glover (known as Audley to his fans) sits in his family home just after the holidays, he remembers being in this same position almost exactly one year ago when he received the first productions for what would eventually become his latest project entitled Go Outside. “I’m literally sitting in the chair that I wrote all the lyrics for this [project] in,” he says. “The synchronicities of it are kind of wild.”
In January 2021, Audley reached out to Norway-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Denisova with the intention of creating an extension of ROY, Audley’s 2020 project. In response, Denisova sent Audley three tracks and he ended up writing the entire Go Outside record in one sitting.
From there, Audley recorded vocals with producer Chris “D1” Dickerson before sending the tracks back to Denisova to mix and master. By April, everything was in place for the three-track Go Outside song collaboration and by September, Audley and Denisova had their first masters listen through. The project is out now.
“ROY, at the time, was the furthest I was on my journey of learning who I am and how I can amplify the world around me,” he says. “I think it differs this time around because song structure wasn’t the main push. Instead, it was making sure that [the message] was as clear as possible and I was saying exactly what I felt.”
Go Outside, Audley says, will also be similar to ROY in the sense that it is a reflection of himself. In fact, it’s going to dive even deeper into the journey of self that Audley has been on. Beginning with a five-minute long track with no distinguishable chorus, Go Outside illustrates Audley’s intention of prioritizing the message over song structure and his journey of finding balance and purpose.
“A big part of this project is about death and rebirth,” he says. “Pieces of ourselves need to die in order for other pieces to grow back bigger, brighter, and better, and death deserves to be celebrated … I’m realizing more and more as time goes on that being able to celebrate death is crucial to taking care of ourselves and growing.”
This celebration of life and expression of personal self-growth shines through in every aspect of the Go Outside project, beginning with Audley’s personal friendship and trust in Denisova. Audley says the seamlessness of his collaboration with Denisova is undeniable, despite never having met face to face, and Denisova’s DNA is as much a part of the record as his own.
The same trust was placed in post-production elements like the cover art and promotional photo shoot which relied on a creative team meticulously curated by Audley himself. Audley, who is now based in Chicago, says he is still heavily influenced by the Cincinnati creative scene and looked to a variety of Ohio-based artists to bring his vision to life.
The team consisted of photographer Alexa Gallo, stylist Shelby Gilgoff, and videographer Nick Federinko, all of whom hadn’t met prior to the shoot. But Audley was committed to creating a comfortable and creative environment that was conducive to capturing the integrity of Go Outside, which even included hosting everyone at his home for a homemade pre-shoot breakfast.
The location of the shoot, the Miamisburg bike trail, was also carefully chosen by Audley and represents a place where a large portion of his self-reflection journey, and even the writing process of ROY, took place. This presence of nature is a consistent theme of the Go Outside project, from its title to the 110 photos of trees Audley took while walking, which now make up the project’s cover art.
“That was a huge deviation because everything I’ve ever put out, it’s been my face. [With the trees] it’s like, it’s me. This is Audley, but it’s not. It’s about me but at the same time it’s also about what I’m learning about myself from everything around me.” he says.
The release of Go Outside is just the start of a plethora of projects in the works for Audley. A music video to accompany the collaboration is scheduled to be released at the end of January and the project itself is only the first of three collections of music that Audley has been working on over the past year. He says the second project, yet to be announced, is completely mastered and expected to be released in the spring and the third project will be released shortly after.