It’s hard to know where to begin with Johnny Igaz. Do I open by mentioning his lifeblood — his music — and his outsized talent that the world was only just beginning to recognize? Or his deep, abiding sense of humor, which never left him without a smile on his face and left him cracking jokes about his own struggles?
Do I start with his passion for others, which saw him supporting his friends, even new friends he barely knew, in their artistic and creative endeavors, without fail? Or his commitment to causes he believed in — veganism, feminism, racial justice, non-violence, fair pay for artists, musicians, and creators, to list but a few? Or, more simply, his philosophy of kindness and positivity, which saw him continually pushing himself on an elemental level to do the hard work necessary to be thankful for all the gifts life gave him, to pay no heed to the hardships he could not control, and to take nothing for granted?
In truth, none of the above does Johnny justice. Perhaps more than any other person I’ve known in life, Johnny was a man of infinite multitudes. From the very first time I met him, he greeted me with a warm hug and engaged in genuine conversation with me, paying me rapt attention and listening earnestly to what I had to say. Then and there, I was smitten. He was one of a kind.
Music was the foundation of my relationship with Johnny. Music seemed to be the foundation of Johnny’s life, as a matter of fact. We bonded early over artists like U.K. techno producer Boddika, whose squirrelly, stripped-down hardware jams, like “Acid Battery,” proved hugely influential on Johnny’s own work as Nackt. We quickly moved beyond electronic music and realized we shared a love of much other outsider music: the sludgy stoner metal of Electric Wizard; the undulating psychedelia of Earthless; the jazzy, dusty downtempo grooves of Amon Tobin; and so much more. Johnny turned me onto so many good tunes: Electronic System’s far-out library music, or Ebenezer Obey’s long-form Nigerian Afrobeat, to pick just two.
But music isn’t the reason I’ll remember Johnny forever.