It’s one thing to leave home and go to college as a teenager, and it’s a whole other ball game leaving home as a teenager and taking a shot in the dark on a career for starry eyed dreamers.
That’s exactly what Philly-born pop artist JUJ did at 17. She took her love and passion for the craft of singing and songwriting, and booked a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, not knowing one living soul there, or where to start. It takes immense guts and grit to do such a thing at any age, and especially doing so as a teenage female in a notoriously competitive and bloodthirsty city for such aspirations.
JUJ has grinded it out, and through her work and perseverance, found herself a reputable producer, and this past spring put out her latest single, “Mood,” featuring Chicago R&B/Hip Hop artist Vic Mensa.
We asked JUJ about her experiences leaving home to pursue one of the toughest career paths in such a cutthroat city, her latest EP, and much more.
Music Mecca: First things first: how did you decide on the name JUJ, and how is it pronounced?
JUJ: I was originally named Julia, then at 5 months old I returned back to Brazil for a little, and “Juj” just stuck, and I never went back to Julia again. I do feel like I’m more of a Juj than a Julia.
MM: Who or what made you decide you wanted to pursue a career in music?
JUJ: I’ve been passionate about music my entire life. I grew up wanting to be on a stage whenever and wherever I could. I have always just been creative and that turned into me being passionate in areas of acting and music and theatre.
MM: You’ve got your debut EP, “It’s U,” available for streaming now. Can you give us some background on the songs on the album and the inspiration?
JUJ: I wrote my EP intending to tell my story and inspire. I didn’t want to be another 19 year old break up artist. I feel as though I had a lot to say and a lot that needed to be heard. I spoke about my move out west at age 17 by myself to pursue my passions, and how it was influenced by my immigrant mother. I spoke on the triumphs and trials of my journey.
MM: Can you tell us about your single, “Mood,” and how you got Vic Mensa to sing a verse on it?
JUJ: “Mood” is the first song on my EP which is a really good introduction to the rest of my story. Along with Vic Mensa, I moved away from a strong city at a young age by myself to get away and do what I love. It was the perfect fit considering how much our stories were similar.
MM: How did you get hooked up with Mensa, and what was that experience like working with him?
JUJ: It was super sick working with Vic. My manager Nathan showed him and his manager “Mood” and he decided to hop on. He was very professional and insightful to work with. I definitely look up to him creatively.
MM: What were your initial weeks and months like when you first moved to LA at 17 not knowing anybody there?
JUJ: Rough. I had a full time nannying job so that gave me some structure for a schedule but other than that it was just me and my keyboard. It was very lonely. I’m such a people person so I really wasn’t used to that much isolation.
MM: How did you go about getting your name out there at such a young age?
JUJ: I was very hungry so to say at a young age, and I just wanted it and still want it so bad. I’d do anything to perform and meet people. I met most of my friends and funny enough I met a producer who knew a writer who knew my now producer who was managed by my manager now, all through an open mic. INSANE.
MM: Do you have a specific atmosphere or pastime that aides in your songwriting process or does it usually just happen sporadically?
JUJ: Alone time. It’s hard for me to isolate myself but when I do, it I find I really reflect on what I’m going through currently or how I feel about something. It’s scary to be alone with my own thoughts but in doing so I’m starting to create some beautiful things.
For more on JUJ and her music, you can check out her website HERE.