Every year, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival brings together an eclectic mix of emerging and established artists from around the world. For the second year in a row, Salt Spring Coffee will be hosting the Young Artist stage to showcase up-and-coming talent from the festival’s Young Artist Program—people like Tierney (Marko) Johnson.
Launched in 2015, the Folk Fest’s Young Artist Program is a unique opportunity for young musicians between the ages of 16 and 24 to learn songwriting skills from established artists and veterans in the music industry. Successful applicants take part in a two-day intensive mentorship, receive a weekend festival pass, meet visiting artists, and have the chance to perform on the Young Artist stage.
This year’s mentors are Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs of Australian folk/pop band Oh Pep! And Tierney (Marko) Johnson is one of just 15 young musicians who have been accepted into the program. As she gears up for festival weekend, Marko took a few moments to tell us about her music and the Young Artist experience so far.
Name: Tierney, but my friends call me Marko
Age: 17, but I’ll be 18 by the time I perform
Hometown: Lynn Valley, North Vancouver
Q. Do you sing, write songs, play an instrument—or some combination of the above?
All of the above! I started writing songs when I was 12—not very good ones, mind you, but still. And I taught myself to play guitar the following year. My guitar is probably my most prized possession.
Q. How and when did you get into music?
My dad loves his Crosby, Stills & Nash, my mother has preschool songs stuck in her head from work, and I’ve been able to memorize music and lyrics since before I can remember.
Q. How would you describe your musical style?
The saying “lost in translation” comes to mind. I always think my writing makes sense—but then when others hear it, they say it’s lovely and poetic, but they have no idea what I’m trying to say. Sometimes I’m not even sure I have anything particularly interesting or important to say at all, but it is therapeutic. It can be really helpful to get things down onto paper, even if it makes no sense when you read it back.
Q. What was it like applying for the Young Artist Program?
I had to do a surprisingly short survey—basic stuff like name and age and whatnot—and add a link to a recording of an original song, which was a lot more intimidating than it should have been. When I received an email saying that I had been accepted, I literally stopped breathing.
Q. What are you hoping to get out of the program? What are you most looking forward to at Folk Fest?
I really did not expect to get in. I don’t know at all what I’m getting into, but I am excited. Whatever happens, it will be an experience—and I need as many of those as I can get. I’m very excited to see Shane Koyczan perform on July 16 though. That will certainly be a highlight.
Want to see Marko and other artists perform at Folk Fest? Salt Spring Coffee will be giving away multiple weekend and day passes between now and the festival weekend.
There are two ways to win:
- Sign up to receive our newsletter (if you already subscribe, you’re already entered).
- Follow us on Instagram where we’ll unveil the details of our secret phrase giveaway.