What is the future of music?
This can be a loaded question, as there are so many aspects to music. But in this instance, I’m specifically talking about creation- the composition of music. It is a question many artists have asked themselves: from classical musicians to mainstream pop, to DJs. The answer is difficult, evasive, uncertain. Yet, like with most questions about the state of our futures and the world, the answer very well may lie with the rising generation.
Enter 25-year-old, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Justy, a musical pioneer of her generation. With her unique, raw, natural vocals, to her blending of R&B, Jazz, Hip-hop styles, and her combining of the old and new, Justy is sure to turn some heads and catch some ears.
Considering she started writing music at the age of 12, the blossoming of this up and comer is an expected one. With a collection of work including ground-breaking singles like “Expectations,” and “Try,” this artist’s trajectory is bound to be significant. Anything she has, Justy is not afraid to put it out there, her confidence and bright artistic presence exuding from her very image.
Justy recently came out with a new release that continues to build up the coming of her debut album. On September 10th, Justy released her new single, “Cool,” and gave us another little peek into what makes her the artist she is. As we have come to know, the track is an amalgamation of different components, dichotomies and emotions. No surprise considering “blend” seems to be Justy’s operative word. The track lays out a lounging lo-fi beat complete with jazz-trumpet, with a equally lazed vocals. But look closer and the lyrics tell a different story, one with a bite.
“Keep a girl by your side but you don’t even love her/If I gave you the world, no it still wouldn’t matter.”
Justy’s expressive lyric pierces the heart. A sentiment many can relate to set floating on the hazy river of old jazz and new R&B. Not to mention the inclusion of a very pointed audio clip that kicks the point of the matter right home: A woman should never be willing to compromise herself for the sake of man. This is not the only song of hers filled with women empowerment, and the energy is exhilarating. She has this youthful strength the world needs right now to speak up about what matters and what needs to change. And it is no problem that it is helped by some expertly crafted tunes.
Here at Music Mecca, we got a chance to chat with Justy about her single, her artistry, and so much more.
So you started writing music at 12-years-old. What inspired you to start?
I think I was always sort of lonelier when I was a kid, so naturally I gravitated towards more artistic things because those are things I could do alone. Writing became a source of comfort for me because I could always jot down the thoughts in my head and channel it to something creative. Once I started getting into Amy Winehouse, I think I really pushed myself to write in a structured way because her whole “Back to Black.” The way she openly and transparently wrote about pain and loss, showed me how important vulnerability is in one’s artistry.
Born in Brooklyn, raised in Staten Island. How important is the city of New York to you and how has it shaped your artistic growth?
New York is so influential to me. There’s a hunger amongst New Yorkers that can be so inspiring because we all want to make it, we all have a dream. With that sort of underdog spirit in mind, I’ve found myself constantly pushing beyond my comfort zone.
What is your creative process like when you go about writing a song?
I’ll normally start out with some melody. I’m always humming along to the production (if I’m not producing it myself) and then I sort of build the song around that? I always tell people I hum out my songs and they’re like “huh?”
What is the inspiration or meaning behind your new single “Cool”?
“Cool” was kind of like my summarization of my 2020 thus far. The year started out really hard with loss all across the board for me, from love to friends to work. So one day I sat down and started playing around with these production stems, I bridged everything together, and just began writing about the fact that I really wasn’t okay but that had to be okay because it was what it was. “Cool” is all about that acceptance of reality, whether it is good or bad. It is equally speaking to self-preservation, self-worth, and self-fulfillment.
You sample an audio recording of a conversation in “Cool.” What is it from, and why did you feel like it was important to include in the track?
So that recording was actually from an Eartha Kitt interview in which the journalists question her on whether she’s willing to compromise for the sake of love. To this, Kitt replies, “Compromise? What is compromise? Compromise for what? Compromise for who?” I wanted to include this clip because I think it hit so beautifully on truly choosing yourself over settling for what is expected. Furthermore, it highlights this sort of self-worth/reliance the track is pushing for as a whole.
“Cool” is the second single building up your debut album. What are you hoping to express or say to your listeners through the full album about yourself as an artist and a person?
The full album is going to dive deeper into the theme of pain. My listeners are going to see the various layers of my pain because pain isn’t always gloom and doom. It is expressed and hidden under various other emotions. For example the highs of addiction hide pain, the aloof manner and coldness one shows towards the world can hide pain. My listeners are going to get to feel every aspect of my pain and the truths I had to come to along my journey. This is me transparently opening up about arguably the hardest year of my life.
In one of your bios, you are described as “a refreshing look at the future of music.” What is the future of music, to you, and how do you, as an artist, facilitate that change?
To me, the future of music is going to transition more and more into a DIY type of environment. At this stage in the industry, a lot of artists are finding ways to do things themselves, and are even taking the steps to become familiar with the business side of music as well. That’s the role I take on and I aim to facilitate as well. I record myself, and manage myself, so as I continue climbing up the ladder, I would love to provide windows of opportunity for artists to become more hands on with their brand as opposed to just focusing on the actual music creation aspect of their artistry.
You are a huge advocate for BLM and representation in art and life. What role does music, especially your music, play during times of uncertainty like we are living in now?
I think right now in a time where so many people feel helpless, music has been a beautiful outlet to vocalize my thoughts and advocate for my respective communities. This album in particular hits on a lot of the troubling events that have hit our country and how they’ve impacted me personally, but also how I see them impact those close to me and the world at large. I always tell other artists/creatives, no matter how small your platform, that platform can reach and speak to someone when they need to hear it most.
What does it mean to you to be an artist?
To me, being an artist is fully encompassing. It’s a lifestyle and a lifeline. As an artist my words and thoughts hold weight I may not even recognize and with that the way I choose to deliver it is often well thought on and developed. Being an artist to me feels like have your finger on the pulse of the world at all times. You are impacted and moved by your living and life becomes your biggest muse.
Outside of music, what hobbies do you have? What occupies your time?
I love writing in general. I journal almost everyday, and I hope to write a book at some point, but I love going for walks, and I love the visual arts and documentaries. I also really enjoy quality time with quality people.
Do you have the wheels in motion for what’s next after your album drops?
I’ve actually just started drafting what I want to happen post album release. I think people move on from their music too quickly, so I intend to fully promote and work my album for a few months before I just jump into the next thing. I’ll have visuals, I’ll have a little documentary to share, and hopefully some more forms of performances for 2021.