Although they’re the same person, there’s a clear distinction between John Britt and JTB: One is the songwriter and the other is the performer.
The 18-year-old’s decision to use a stage name came from a desire to set up a clear distinction between himself as a person and a performer.
“Everyone used to just call me John Britt … and I need to be more than just ‘John Britt,’” he said. “And so I thought, ‘JTB.’”
The singer-songwriter has been performing under his stage name, which is his initials, for almost three years. But Britt said he started singing in public well before then.
“When I was in preschool I would bring in CDs … and I’d dance and sing in front of the preschool,” he said. “But you’re 3 years old, so what else do you know to do other than what you really like?”
Britt’s childhood love followed him into adolescence when he began rewriting other artists’ lyrics. Since then, he estimates he’s written at least 1,300 songs from the time he was 13: approximately 20 different tunes a month for more than five years.
This almost obsessive manner of writing comes from the want — or need — to have his voice heard. He writes his songs in a backwards way: title first, lyrics second and melody last. Without a solid chorus, he doesn’t have enough confidence to call the song finished.
Britt said his song “The After Party” was his first attempt at writing a song completely on the piano. After extremely positive feedback from his friends and family, he uploaded it to iTunes.
“I went on iTunes today and [The After Party] is my No. 1 song and I [thought], ‘Oh God, I don’t even like that song,’” he said.
The aversion to his own song comes from his belief that the song doesn’t sound enough like John Britt, the person. Maintaining his identity in his music is something extremely important to Britt.
“As an artist you kinda just bloom where you’re planted,” Britt said. “You can be a really good songwriter, but to be an artist is something completely different, and I think it’s important to just be yourself.”
Since Britt was planted in Columbus, he’s bloomed all over the local music scene. He’s been performing at well-known venues like the Newport, the Basement and a handful of other local hotspots.
Even though he’s been slowly building a fan base and writing music, Britt said he doesn’t plan on releasing anything but singles until he “blows up.”
“My plan is to release a single, or a piece of work, every other week until … people start to care, because right now, no one cares,” he said.
Regardless of whether or not people care, JTB isn’t going anywhere soon.
“I have fun doing it … I would never give up on this,” he said.