The Obama effect

Interview with U.S. president gets local 'tween singer some internet love

San Diego ’tween pop star Lia Marie Johnson asked the chief executive if aliens are kept at Area 51: “Blink if it’s ‘yes.’”
  • San Diego ’tween pop star Lia Marie Johnson asked the chief executive if aliens are kept at Area 51: “Blink if it’s ‘yes.’”

As revealed in the recent Reader cover story “What WikiLeaks reveals about San Diego,” former Blink-182 player Tom DeLonge is apparently obsessed with interviewing federal and military bigwigs about the truth behind UFOs. However, local ’tween pop star Lia Marie Johnson scooped his efforts on November 7 by posting her online interview with Barack Obama, where she came right out and asked the chief executive about Area 51, “where they keep all the alien species.”

“I can’t tell you about that,” replied the president. “I cannot confirm nor deny.”

“That’s a ‘yes,’ right?”

“I can’t say.”

“Blink if it’s ‘yes.’”

Johnson first earned notice as a member of local ’tween trio Pink Army, whose members also turned up in projects like Kidz Bop and the popular Kids React web series. Last year, Johnson was named one of the Top 100 YouTubers in the world, as well as boasting 1.6 million Instagram followers.

"DNA" Lia Marie Johnson Lia Marie Johnson

Her chat with the president, posted on the Billboard website, included topics like the Great Barrier Reef and Johnson’s activism as a vegan. “Every once in a while,” said Obama, “I’m still kind of a meat eater, but I think it’s excellent that you have gone vegan and I think that everybody should try to at least eat more grains, fruits, vegetables.”

Johnson recently signed to Capitol Records, which just released her debut single, “DNA,” cowritten with producer Howard Benson, coproducer Lenny Skolnik, and Sidnie Tipton. An introspective song about dealing with her father’s alcoholism, the track contains lyrics like “Hate to say hello ’cause I know that it means goodbye/ hate to ask, but what’s it like to leave me behind?”

“I was at a really hard place in my life when I wrote ‘DNA,’” she says. “It was my first time working with Lenny and Sidnie and, as we got to know each other, they started asking about my life. When they asked about my family, I started getting really emotional and, at the end of explaining my life story, I said, ‘but I guess you can’t stop DNA.’”

“We all looked at each other and everything clicked. We got so excited and started writing immediately.” Thanks in part to the exposure gained from the Obama interview, “DNA” has already been streamed over one million times.

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