For most teenage brothers, the most exciting part of the weekend will probably be a houseparty or a Friday night football game. However, for brothers, Gus and Phin Johnson, better known as Low Gap, their thrills come from playing shows and connecting with their fast-growing audience.
At only 18 and 16 respectively, Gus and Phin stand out in an already youthful independent country scene. With artists such as Aidan Canfield, Sam Barber and Tucker Knisell making waves in indie circles all in their early twenties, Low Gap has set themselves up to be one of the most exciting young acts in the genre by the time both even reach twenty. The pair have already curated over 40,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.
Gus and Phin always had an affinity for music and storytelling. With roots in Lexington, Kentucky and Holmes Country, Ohio, the duo was exposed to music at a young age. In my recent conversation with the band, Gus said, “Our grandfather… and that side of the family, always had a lot of bluegrass players; he played guitar. A lot of his siblings played instruments, so that whole side of the family was really musical. My mom’s side of the family is also pretty musical.“
Gus also expressed how he and Phin picked up songwriting and instruments at a young age due to the constant exposure to music throughout their lives, “We just come from a lot of musicians and people who love music, and we grew up listening to it. I guess we just kind of got the music bug when we were young and decided to start playing some instruments.”
Phin notes how his father’s attending the University of Kentucky and the vibrant alt country scene there influenced both Gus and his taste, “They [University of Kentucky] had a super vibrant alt country scene going on. That’s how he got into listening to bands like Uncle Tupelo, Drive-By Truckers and Cross Canadian Ragweed from listening to those college radio. Because of that, that’s where Gus and I got our old country roots and our Americana roots.”
As for other influences, Phin points to many prominent artists in the alt country scene as sources of inspiration for Low Gap. Jason Isbell, Robert Earl Keen, Turnpike Troubadours and John Prine are among the artists/bands that have had the biggest influences on the duo’s sound.
At only 16 and 14, Gus and Phin decided to release their debut single, Mockingbird on Dec. 31, 2021. The song has quickly become their most popular track to date with over 400,000 streams on Spotify as of today. The track also appeared at #2 on popular country music YouTuber, Grady Smith’s, Best Non-Single Country Songs of 2022 list.
As for the inspiration behind the song, Gus notes how it’s a little embarrassing, “It’s funny. I wrote that song when I was probably 14… It was one of the first songs I wrote, and it was completely about a three-week-long middle school relationship. It kind of makes me sick to even think about why I wrote the song, so I don’t think about it anymore.”
The song sat in Gus’ notebook for years before being rediscovered in 2021 when the song was recorded, “I wrote that song and stuck it in a book somewhere; I didn’t think about it for probably close to three years. Then one day, before we were going to record our first single, we found it in this notebook.” The rest is history for the teenage duo.
Seven months later, they released their debut, self-titled album. The record featured seven songs including Mockingbird and their previously released single, Bench Seat. The album was quite successful for the teenage brothers with Bench Seat and Mockingbird being the most streamed songs for the duo on Spotify.
When asked about how it feels to be experiencing Low Gap’s success at such a young age, Gus said, “It’s kind of weird. It’s like you’re living out your childhood and your childhood dreams at the same time which is kind of strange.”
Given their young age, Gus and Phin are both in school currently while pursuing their dream of being touring musicians. Gus is a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati double majoring in music production and finance. Phin, on the other hand, is heading into his junior year of high school.
As for the future, Gus and Phin want to focus on curating a dedicated live audience through playing shows, Gus notes, “You really need to have a live audience because that’s what creates your fan base. Finn and I, we play a lot of shows, especially for our age. We play three shows a week, pretty much every week.“
The pair currently play shows primarily in their home state of Ohio; however, they want to branch out. Gus expressed how he would like to begin touring soon and growing Low Gap from a regional act to a national one, “We play mostly in Ohio and little bit in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, but we wanna start exploring the possibilities of touring and getting some openings and stuff and kind of expanding that live audience from a regional thing to a national thing.“
Currently, the brothers are preparing to release a brand new single, Eldora, that’s slated to come out in July. They teased the song in a cryptic Instagram video last week; however, they couldn’t give a release date. They wanted the song to be a bit of a mystery, “People gotta figure it out for themselves. It’s like a scavenger hunt.”
Listen to Mockingbird and stream their music here: