Arnoud, at one point you created this alter ego called 'King Johnny' or 'Johnny den Artiest', but what kind of person is he?
Arnoud Judong aka King Johnny aka Johnny den Artiest: "(laughs) I don't know... He's a friendly fellow, cool and interesting as well I think; in short: everything I'm not! No, seriously, I wanted to create a character that could speak his mind whenever he felt like it; a sort of reggae superhero."
Is it a character that continues to evolve?
Arnoud Judong: "Oh absolutely. The past few years I've tried to give the character a bit more depth; when you dress up to play a character like that, you can say and do things you wouldn't dream of doing or saying otherwise."
Is there a difference between 'King Johnny' and 'Johnny den Artiest'?
Arnoud Judong: "Not really, no. When I created 'Johnny den Artiest' a couple of years back, I was still mc-ing for Civalizee Foundation and they started calling me 'King Johnny' almost from the get-go, so I guess you could say it's my mc name."
As a vocalist, what's your opinion on the use of Auto-Tune or vocoder?
Arnoud Judong: "Everyone's free to do what they want, but personally speaking I'm not fond of tunes where the voice sounds completely altered."
You craft your songs on your home computer. Was performing them live a great obstacle for you to overcome?
Arnoud Judong: "Well, I think by now most people will know I'm not the world's greatest singer, but there are a number of tricks I can use on stage to mask that; one very handy example is playing the backing vocals along with the melody. (laughs)"
There's a longstanding tradition of singing humorous lyrics in Antwerp dialect; one could even call it a typically Antwerp phenomenon. Did you listen to the repertoire of groups like The Strangers yourself when you were younger?
Arnoud Judong: "No, I can't say I have. Of course I know their music and I also vaguely remember the repertoire of Katastroof, bit if you'd ask me to name some of the people who really influenced me, I would have to go for Ras Gunti aka Papa Lekker of Far West Crew and Svern aka Far High of High Grade Sound."
Was it clear for you from the very beginning that you wanted to sing in Dutch?
Arnoud Judong: "No, at first I tried to do a couple of things in English, but that didn't really work out. Singing in Dutch is a lot of fun; as a singer you're always more fluent and versatile in your native tongue and the fact people in the audience can immediately start singing along with whatever you're doing is a nice extra perk. I wouldn't say that I sing in pure Antwerp dialect though; I've been told more than once that I don't sound authentic enough, but that's just because I'm not really a Sinjoor (nickname for inhabitants of Antwerp, red.) as I was born and raised in Mortsel."
Together with Halve Neuro you did a tune called 'Shopping In Den Aldi' ("shopping at Aldi", red.). That track could easily be perceived as a promo stunt for the supermarket chain by the same name. Have they reacted in any way?
Arnoud Judong: "The people of Aldi, you mean? No, unfortunately not, and before you ask I haven't heard from Delhaize either. (laughs) It's a real crisis tune and what can I say, Johnny always does his shopping at Aldi!"