Meeting Bodie Johnson is like cramming progressive ideas that have captured an eclectic audience for the past quarter-of-a-century into a party popper. Burgeoning mayhem and an enduring spirit for nature’s best hidden secrets, his personality captivates a balance our community identifies with in navigating how to enjoy work and the outdoors.
In 2015, BackForty became an artifact manufactured by Johnson sparking an innovative approach to the music industry. “BackForty is an artist management firm that operates honestly and on a personal level, cultivating artist’s careers while advocating for artists according to their agenda. BackForty Management is a specialized producer of business on behalf of our clients in the music industry,” he says.
Johnson built a profound extension of himself into his own company, one that can be traced back to his long-term clock-ins to the music industry and the unpredictable ride that anyone in the industry knows is a bumpy one. In 2003, graduating with a degree in Journalism and a focus on Broadcast Production Management, Johnson began his career piloting as the radio producer and on-air talent of Summit County, Colorado and eventually landed as a savory presence within our own walls here at Battery621.
On a Thursday morning nearing 9:00 back in 2017, Black Eye Coffee once located off of 9th and Logan, opened its doors to glossed black walls and paper-white tiles. Nestled within the six-foot-tall wooden booth, round black frames grazed over an espresso-stained edition of Billboard Magazine. A smirk stretched across Johnson’s face and our own, his ability to maintain total eye contact likely a reflection of his own impending curiosity for the world around him.
What is “BackForty?”
“The Homestead Act of 1862 opened up millions of acres to applicable U.S. citizens, regardless of their race, sex, or creed. A “section” of land in the U.S. is one square mile, or 640 acres. The traditional “homestead” was one-quarter of a section, or 160 acres of land, and was given to any U.S. citizen willing to settle on, improve, and farm that land for five years. That quarter section is made up of four smaller quarters, each being forty acres in size. The “back forty” was designated to the furthest quarter or quarters from the front of homestead.BackForty pays homage to my great grandparents who homesteaded in western Nebraska in the early 1900s and to my parents, who raised our family on a dairy farm near Greeley, a small town in eastern Colorado that was named after Horace Greeley who was one of the Homestead Act's leading advocates. BackForty is the plot of land or business that, though quaint and humble, yields produce that is appreciated and acknowledged by all.”
To understand your brand, what does one need to know?
“As Managers, we act as the "fifth band member” or the hired CEO to direct and oversee an artist’s business, floor to ceiling. As Music Supervisors, we act as a liaison between the creative and rights-holders by marrying music with visual media by locating appropriate music and then and clearing the music rights for fair and proper use.”
If your company were represented in human form who would they be?
What is one story or highlight you’d like to share?
“We watched one of our artists go from playing house concerts for 50 people to selling out Red Rocks in 2018.”
What remains relevant? How does BackForty connect to the bigger picture? What is the bigger picture?
“Art remains relevant and we believe great art always rises to the top. BackForty Management brings our artists to the intersection timing and opportunity with a focus on integrity and honesty, which also remain paramount to how we conduct business. Our successes are defined not only by how we help our clients reach their definition of success but also, how we bring opportunity to find time away from the traditional sense of “work.” Our bigger picture is growing lean, not fast, all while super-serving our clients, whether they be artists, labels, production companies, or friends.”
If you had to carry around a book, an album, and a cookbook with you for the rest of your life what would they be?
“Book: West With The Night by Beryl Markham
Album: Paul Simon - Graceland
Cookbook: My wife”
BackForty has been a rather new addition to Battery621 joining us back in 2017. Despite his album choice we know Johnson’s favorite artist actually mirrors 2019’s “dad” approved jams, often echoing the walls of Battery621 with none other than Wilco. He has worked with some of the most critically acclaimed brands and artists of the past decade including Shakey Graves, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, John Butler Trio, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Langhorne Slim, Liza Anne, Bee Caves, Patagonia, Trek, Yeti, REI, Lululemon Athletica, Matchstick Productions, DPS Skis, Outdoor Research, among others.
Yet, we often find in reviewing Johnson’s latest weekend adventures when he’s not on the road he’s hitting the hills of the backcountry -- skiing, trail running, fly fishing, and biking alongside his wife, son, and pup.