In 1983, he became a member of the Beat Happening, an underground rock band that became an integral part of the Washington music scene. The band released a series of albums and toured for a number of years. At the same time he was playing a large role behind the scenes, creating his own record label, K Records, as a way to dissuade young band from pandering to larger corporate record labels. Johnson also established the International Pop Overthrow, a collection of 7" releases from indie acts that received critical acclaim in the U.S. and Europe. In the early nineties, he started a new group called Dub Narcotic Sound System and also performed as a member of The Halo Benders.
In 1991, Johnson created the International Pop Underground Festival, a music festival featuring Bikini Kill, Fugazi and Fastbacks. He has worked with Beck, Built To Spill and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion among countless others as a producer and engineer. In 2002, Johnson released his first solo album What Was Me, a collection of archive tapes from his days in Dub Narcotic Sound System. ~ Jason Macneil, All Music Guide