S.F. Johnson debuts 80s-flavored delight: “Asphyxiation”

Listen to S.F. Johnson‘s new single “Asphyxiation” today before it goes live everywhere tomorrow.

The inspiration for S.F. Johnson’s forthcoming EP, Songs from an Empty Orchestra, comes from the artist’s desire to capture the essence of his time living in Tokyo. The artist, who is from Newcastle, England, began recording the EP in karaoke bars as a way to respect local noise laws. Premiering today on HighClouds, its second single, “Asphyxiation,” is a synth-drenched 80s throwback jam.

From the karaoke bar to your at-home dance party, “Asphyxiation” begins with a plucked, upbeat rhythm that sparkles through the entire song. It’s followed by other classic tones, including a shallow drumbeat, dramatic cymbals, and a new wave-inspired synth melody. Although the lyrics get a bit dark, the instrumental work is sunny and hopeful, which is a breath of fresh air in these times.

“‘Asphyxiation’ is about working on yourself, stepping back and figuring out what you need to change,” the artist told HighClouds. “It’s about recognising the toxicity of a relationship, but ultimately wanting to make it work.”

S.F. Johnson’s vocals are mellow and smooth, in contrast to the driving energy of the track. The lyrics to the verses show the dark, complicated side of the relationship: “I came around last Sunday / promised myself I would never go back again / But you were my little runaway / hard to accept when you go through changes.” While the chorus refrain, repeated throughout, is catchy and relatable: “Keep on working on making it good / working on making it good enough for you.”

Erin Bensinger