You’d think a guy covered in tattoos, on tour with Julian Casablancas’ The Voidz and who goes wild on stage would be too intimidating to even approach—but not Aussie born/NYC-based musician Johann Rashid, aka Promiseland. He may sing dark and menacing experimental punk rock, but he’s one of the sweetest people to walk this earth.
On stage, he’s unapologetic—banging his chest and doing literal backflips and jumping into the crowd (no matter how big the venue is). Somehow he always ends up climbing something dangerously tall, all while chanting powerfully into the mic. He’s usually alone, without even an instrument to clutch for support, pouring all his energy and passion into his performance—though sometimes you can catch a keys player or saxophonist join him on stage.
I caught up with Rashid sitting drenched in sweat backstage after he, Surfbort and The Voidz had just played the first of three sold-out shows in Brooklyn (The Voidz residency). Rashid was glowing with a genuine and humbled aura and donning a pair of cat-eye shades.
He tells BTRtoday that Promiseland started as an exploration of the power of suggestion through hypnosis. “I used to study experimental film and video art and [for] a part of my practice … I started to hypnotize and record my voice talking about all these lives that I’ve lived and stuff like that,” he says. “Past life regression and past lives may not actually exist, but you can take your mind there—you can use your imagination and put images and language that we know to these cool ideas floating around in your mind.”
Ultimately, Rashid wants to see how far imagination can take someone, and that’s where Promiseland comes into play. “The most amount of people I’d been able to hypnotize is about six or seven people and I’d have them there just lying on the ground—that was what the show was supposed to be, originally,” he says. “It’s really a playground for me to explore different things—all you need to do is basically suggest [something] to someone, you don’t even actually hypnotize them, they hypnotize themselves.”
Promiseland was always in the background for Rashid while in Australia, but the project really started to blossom when he moved to New York City about four years ago. Since signing to Cult Records, Rashid has toured with The Voidz through Europe and the U.S., released two singles, along with a 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque music video, and is working on his debut album.
Promiseland “My Shadow”
“Being in New York is fun because everyone that comes here, especially in 2018, has a hard time because it’s an expensive city to live in [and] it’s not like what everybody says it used to be,” he says between backstage birthday celebrations and a quick hello to Dani Miller of Surfbort. “But, I have to say, from that there are these amazing mutations of people that work really hard so that they can have a good time and make cool stuff—this city for me has been really good and I’ve got to meet amazing people.”
Rashid claims he’s already lived about five lives. Thankfully, he says he’s got at least 180 more to go. You can catch him tonight, June 18, in Philadelphia when he plays with The Voidz at Boot & Saddle. You can also listen to the entire interview (with a shout out from Dani of Surfbort) and tracks by Promiseland on this week’s The Music Meetup.