After releasing an EP in early 2020, Tzipporah Johnson knew that she wanted to put out a full-length album, and the pandemic, forcing many people to curtail their activities, gave Johnson plenty of time to think and write.
“Part of it was helping me process some stuff that had happened to me in the past,” Johnson said. “And also noticing that the political landscape was shifting, as far as antisemitism and antisemitic discourse and antisemitic violence against our community goes. Part of me wanted to create this album as a way to uplift the Jewish community, and hopefully, somebody would listen to the things I was saying on the album, resonate with some of it and feel less alone or a little more seen.”
Johnson’s album, Tales of the Diaspora, comes out Dec. 23 on Bandcamp, Apple Music, and other digital outlets. She said that the album is more internally focused, in many ways, on her relationship with her own Jewishness.
“There’s like a couple of songs in particular where I talk about my ancestors and what would my ancestors say if they saw some of these things that were going on now, and what guidance would they have for me?” she said. “There was some of that external processing of what was going on in the world, but a lot of it was also kind of me figuring out my own identity as a Jewish person, and trying to understand through the music that I was writing where I stand within the Jewish community as a whole.”
Johnson is also planning a record release party on Jan. 21, 2023, at The Hook and Ladder. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with music starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the show and will soon be available on The Hook and Ladder’s website. She has also started a GoFundMe to try and compensate the musicians fairly who are playing at the show. The musicians performing are: GIOIA, David Robinson, Izzy Buckner, Danny Lentz, Sarah Larsson, and the band Voices of Sepharad.
“It’s important to me to make sure that everybody gets paid for their work, myself included,” she said. “If I’m not able to raise enough to pay everybody like I’m not, I’m not gonna have the show. I’m only going to have the show if I can guarantee that everybody gets paid.”
Johnson said that her Judaism isn’t something that she’s explored musically until fairly recently.
“I had spent a lot of my late teens and early 20s, kind of trying to almost run from my Jewishness,” she said. Johnson didn’t want to give a lot of specifics but did say she had experienced bullying at the Jewish day school she had attended growing up. “Because of that trauma, I didn’t really want anything to do with it for the longest time. It wasn’t really until the last couple of years that I started talking with other people within the Jewish community that had similar experiences had similar, multi- marginalized identities within the Jewish community. Seeing myself represented in some of those conversations that those people were having and making connections, I started to try to come back to it on my own terms.”