Written, produced and performed by John Steen.

Produced and mixed by John Steen. Written and performed by Emmeline.

Written, produced and performed by John Steen.

Written, produced and performed by John Steen.


"Here at When The Gramophone Rings we get used to writing certain things. Not out of laziness, or overt repetition, but more due to the fact that if you run a music blog in 2015 there are a few phrases that will pop up time and time again. ‘Indie pop duo’, ‘mystery act’ and ‘Spacey RnB’ have all featured (probably more than) a handful of times over the last 18 months or so.

It is nice then, to be able bring something utterly fresh to the table. Both for us ourselves and for you our readers. ‘Crutch’ does exactly that. You can forget your duos and your dreaminess and your dark RnB for just a second because today we’re giving you something different. Today we bring you an adrenalin fuelled, ready-for-the-club pop banger dripping in auto-tune. We can honestly say that that is a sentence we’ve never used before.

‘Crutch’ is the work of 25 year-old Dallas-based artist/producer John Steen. Slick, Top 40-esque production features pounding, patterned drums and sampled oddities, before Steen’s sugary sweet vocal enters the fray, manipulated but never to the point of distraction. The glorious end result sits somewhere between Ben Khan and the Pussycat Dolls.

Interestingly, for a song written about anxiety and self-doubt, this is one of the most confident sounding singles we’ve heard in a long long time."

− When the Gramophone Rings

"John Steen. Doesn’t really sound like a name that’s up to much, does it? How wrong you are, judgmental reader. If the world had a lick of sense, Dallas boy Steen could well be the saviour of male-driven pop, if his new track Yes I Know is anything go by. Taking all the bits from Clean Bandit that don’t make you want to kill yourself and teaming them with instantly catchy pop hooks, there doesn’t seem to be a better mast for this boy’s talent."

− PressPlay

"An utterly fresh club-ready pop tune dripping in auto-tune that I actually like? What else is there to say? This is another unexplainably unknown artist that has way too much talent laying around to get much further without blowing up."

− Musicgeeks

"The moment when Dallas singer-songwriter John Steen suddenly spirals upward in Surf, the opening track of his debut EP Off the Ground, is electrifying, in its own small way. Compact at 10 minutes and three songs, Ground doesn’t give Steen much room to showcase his skills, but he makes the most of the limited exposure, working with UK-based producer Lorenzo Cosi (who has collaborated with Lana Del Rey, among others) to craft lush, glossy soundscapes that pop right out of the speakers. The title track is an appealing showcase for Steen’s easy tenor, which fits snugly between acoustic guitar, electronic effects and crisp percussion. As first showings go, Steen’s bodes well for whatever comes next."

− Preston Jones of

"John Steen is an alternative-pop artist coming out of Dallas, TX who has a fantastic new track out called ‘Why?’.

The track was written and produced by John and shows off his excellent combination of a lush alt-pop vibe and great melody. Enjoy!"

− Hearty Vibes

"It was great working with John, because after a short conversation he produced five diverse pieces of music that fit our video perfectly."

− Luke Boney of Corgan MediaLab

"My experience collaborating with John on my videos has been awesome. His talent and dedication to a project is truly rare."

− Andrew Holzschuh, Independent Filmmaker

"John's music provided the perfect backdrop to video content I created in the context of the United Nations' 70th anniversary. His tracks 'Hiding' and 'Why' proved essential to moving the images forward and brought the videos together in compelling and dynamic fashion. We look forward to hearing more of his music!"

− Nathan Beriro, Associate Producer - United Nations

John’s song “Hiding” was featured in the video for the United Nations 70th Anniversary.

Produced by Lorenzo Cosi. Written and performed by John Steen. Featuring children from the Dallas program Heart House.



John is a producer, artist, podcaster and blogger in Dallas, Texas. John’s songs have been featured in music blogs, TV and radio, and private commercial use. He is currently writing and producing for licensing companies, producing artists, as well as writing and producing his own material. He runs the podcast and website Sound and Substance for indie artists and producers.

Starting out in 7th grade with a love for punk rock and alternative music in Orange County, California, John was first a bass guitar player. He quickly turned to guitar and songwriting in the 8th grade when he moved to Dallas, TX and began performing at various high school events. He recorded various EP’s and started to hone his singing, writing and studio experience.
In college John’s sound transitioned to an indie/pop vibe and he was accepted as a songwriter into Baylor University’s on-campus record label Uproar Records as a sophomore. There he met Max Helmerich, with whom he shortly formed the band Zoo Studio. Zoo Studio had local success at Baylor, playing the major university festival Diadeloso two years in a row, along with many other university events. The band built a following through Baylor and also garnered radio play on the east coast with its single “Thief”.

After college however, John and Max went off to start separate projects. Since graduating in 2012, John has been writing and producing for his solo project under his own name. John first chose to work with Lorenzo Cosi as his producer for his debut EP “Off the Ground.” Lorenzo worked with Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz) and Sacha Skarbek (Miley Cyrus) for a number of years and garnered credits with Lana Del Rey and others before going off on his own.

After working with Lorenzo, John began to produce all of his own songs as well as for external projects. John’s tracks have received attention from numerous music blogs (see below), been featured by the United Nations, as well as for commercial and radio use. For his past 5 songs, John has worked closely with Rob Burrell, who is a four-time Grammy award-winning mix engineer, to mix and hone his tracks.

In addition to sync licensing and his own material, John focuses on helping independent pop artists and singer-songwriters produce original material from his Dallas studio and remotely.

Alongside his music pursuits, John started a podcast for independent artists called Sound and Substance, which garnered over 16,000 listens within the first 7 months of release and reached #1 in iTunes “New and Noteworthy” for Music podcasts several times in a row. He writes at for artists and producers and has guest-written for Hypebot.