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Don’t Look Back

A cassette tape/VHS album of emotional chamber songs about young people, extreme experiences, and the luminous malleability of memory

The Latest Update

DONT LOOK BACK – now available on Innova Recordings!

Posted on September 26, 2015 by Jenny Olivia Johnson

Hello everyone!  I’m thrilled to announce that DONT LOOK BACK is now officially released on Innova Recordings!  You can purchase a physical CD through their website or a digital version via iTunes.  I hope you enjoy it!

Stay tuned for an announcement about a listening party to celebrate the album’s release in NYC later this fall, and of course for updates on the next phase of the project–a series of music videos in collaboration with Laura Moran! 

Happy supermoon eclipse,


More Updates ▼

DONT LOOK BACK – coming on Innova Recordings in September!

Posted on June 30, 2015 by Jenny Olivia Johnson

I am so grateful to have the support of New Music USA for my first solo album!  

I am also thrilled to announce that the album will be released on Innova Recordings on September 25, 2015.  We will be doing a CD/digital download release first, followed by a limited-run cassette release.  The VHS of music videos will then follow in 2016.  Director Laura Moran and I will be updating our progress here, on our Kickstarter page, and on my website.  Please stay tuned!

Meanwhile, to see the Innova page and order an advance copy of the CD, please click here.

I couldn’t be happier with how this project is turning out.  I’m so grateful to all of the wonderful musicians, artists, and supporters who made this possible!

More to come,




“Don’t Look Back” is my first solo album.  After a successful Kickstarter campaign in July 2014 to raise funds for musician fees and studio costs, I began recording in August 2014 at Oktaven Audio with engineer Ryan Streber and a lineup of world-class new music performers. I am just now finishing the mixing and mastering process, and I am seeking a grant to assist with distribution fees (limited-run cassette tapes and CDs) and to help fund the second phase of the project, which is a series of VHS music videos for each song directed by video artist Laura Moran.

“Don’t Look Back” is a collection of emotional chamber songs that explore the subject of childhood and adolescent trauma, the emotional aftermath of extreme experiences, and the traces of fragmentary memories that survivors of early trauma often retain.   Traumatic memories are sometimes impossible to adequately describe, account for, or narrate, and that is precisely what interests me and inspired me to compose music about them. Many of the memories explored here emerge entirely out of language–as sensations, colors, or sounds, and sometimes as synaesthetic (mixed-sensory) perceptions.  It is precisely these kinds of mysterious, complex, and almost unknowable aspects of human memory that I seek to express in my music. This entire album is haunted by distant memories of things that may or may not have happened, and the mysteries behind that process.

While these subject matters might seem dark, I seek to acknowledge what it means to overcome darkness, and how difficult or emotionally extreme experiences can indelibly reshape one’s perceptual abilities, sometimes in eerily beautiful ways.  it is my hope that the honesty with which I seek to depict traumatic experiences will be meaningful to a wide variety of people, and that this album will touch many, even those for whom these genres and styles of music might be entirely foreign.

Once the mixing and mastering process is complete in late April 2015, I plan to approach several new-music labels with the album and a proposal for distribution on analog formats (cassette and VHS) as well as online in digital formats.  I may also elect to self-release the album.  Regardless of whether I end up collaborating with a label or not, I anticipate needing to fund the physical duplication of the album myself, and I also expect that fees related to the music videos will need to be self-funded.  My expectation is that the audio version of the album will be complete by July 2015, and the music videos by September 2015.  If I self-release the album, I will do so on July 1, 2015 (audio) and on September 1, 2015 (video).  If I collaborate with a label, I will work with them to determine an appropriate release date (likely later than 2015).

Project Media

Dollar Beers (Redondo Beach ’96) (2006) – studio version
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“Dollar Beers” will be the opening track on “Don’t Look Back.” It is an extended, experimental pop song about a teenager who witnesses her friend drowning after a night of drinking on the beach, and was recorded in August 2014 at Oktaven Audio with Megan Schubert, soprano; Todd Reynolds, violin; Peter Gregson, cello; Jessica Schmitz, flute; Eileen Mack, clarinet; Isabelle O’Connell, piano; Jude Traxler and Jenny Olivia Johnson, percussion; Nathaniel Berman, conductor; and Ryan Streber, recording engineer.

Pilot (2012-13) – studio version (EXCERPT)
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“Pilot” is an amplified micro-oratorio for soprano, tenor, bassoon, piano, electronics, and video, inspired by the events of the 1972 Andes plane disaster. It will be the second track on “Don’t Look Back,” and was recorded in August 2014 at Oktaven Audio with P. Lucy McVeigh, soprano; Amanda Crider, mezzo-soprano; Andrew Delclos, bassoon; Eliko Akahori, piano; and Jude Traxler, percussion.

Start and End Dates



Boston, Massachusetts

2 updates
Last update on September 26, 2015

Project Created By

Wellesley, Massachusetts
Composer and sound artist Jenny Olivia Johnson is currently an associate professor of music at Wellesley College.  Her first solo album, DONT LOOK BACK, was supported by a New Music USA project grant and released on Innova Recordings in 2015.  Her music has been described as “gorgeous, ominous, and hypnotic” by the Boston Globe, “stunning in its simplicity and power” by…


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