Ape School is the moniker of Michael Johnson, a multi-instrumentalist studio wiz based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was previously a member of the indie rock bands Holopaw and Lilys. He made his debut as Ape School in 2009 in association with Ninja Tune. Born in Miami, Florida, Johnson moved to the Florida panhandle as a child and spent his teenage years in Gainesville. While living there, he was a member of the band Holopaw, whose frontman, John Orth, had collaborated with Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock in the band Ugly Casanova. Thanks in part to Orth's affiliation with Brock, Holopaw was signed to a recording contract with Sub Pop, the label that had released the Ugly Casanova album Sharpen Your Teeth (2002), in addition to early singles by Modest Mouse. Holopaw released two albums on Sub Pop, Holopaw (2003) and Quit +/or Fight (2005), both of which feature Johnson as a multi-instrumentalist.