23 year old Staten Island artist J U S T Y, displays growth and introspection with “Soul Food: An Album.”(Slated for release 11/30/18) Serving as her first extended length project, Soul Food (Engineered by Ryan Pearson) features an array of R&B, hip-hop, and jazz influenced tracks, each revealing a deeper level of thought surrounding; love, friendship, industry and political climates, and self-awareness. Recorded from her own residence, the project offers an organic sound and approach to an emotional delivery.
The project’s lead single Insecure (Aug 31, 2018) (produced by Lug Soda), is an emotionally vulnerable track which showcases the struggles within one’s self and who they want to be. In this particular scenario, an independent artist trying to provide for those around them while pursuing their dream.
In correlation with the roll out, J U S T Y and frequent visual collaborator B.H. have written/directed original music videos for several singles on the project.
Quite a few blog posts ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Justy for Black history month, we talked about what it meant to be a queer Black woman in the music industry, where her love for music came from as well as what she hoped her music would do for the world. It was a really inspiring interview that provided a beautiful and insightful perspective I and many others hadn’t experienced. Justy has been solidifying her name and craft producing banger after banger! Since then she has been working hard to create her album Soul food due to debut on the 30th of November 2018.
In this interview with Justy, we will talk about her creation Soul food: An Album.
- Where did the inspirations for this album come from? I took some time off to kind of regroup things. I found myself in a space of toxicity. On one end I was entering a new happy space in my life and on the other I was frustrated/hurt by people/things that were close to me. So I sat back and just realized, you need to write about all of this and be upfront don’t sugar coat it. So in many ways, Soul Food is a mix of sweetness and bitterness. You have to have a balance. Where I let anger and hurt go, I left room for happiness and fulfilment.
- What was the hardest part about writing ‘Love letters ft. Ryan P’ the hardest part of Love Letter Pt 2 was keeping that consistency from the first one. I wanted to show growth so I really had to continue a story but present it in a newer, fresher, better way.
- Why the name ‘Soul food: An Album’ Technically, I had an EP named Soul Food on my SoundCloud and though it was low-key. People really appreciated the organic nature of it. So “Soul Food: An Album” just seemed like a nice graduation to show my growth sonically, vocally, and writing-wise, while keeping with that organic essence. The project is like food for your soul. It’s going to feed a little bit of everything in anyone.
- On ‘self-loathing’ there is a different attitude in comparison to your other songs, what did you feel when you sang this? Self-loathing is like a song of accountability. I guess there’s a bit of a bite to that record because I’m calling out others but also myself. As creatives we can lose humility easily so I just felt like in writing the record, I kept in mind that I didn’t want to “get so high” that I forgot my humility.
- When feeling Q.U.E.E.N what was the image you wanted to create? Q.U.E.E.N is all about representation for me. I really didn’t want to be the focus of the visual. The focus had to be my friend Gabby who is another black women just chasing her dream (her modelling page is @justypeachygab). I just wanted to honour women, specifically women of colour.
- What are your favourite lyrics from the album? I have two actually. I have a song on the record that opens with “a bridge is burning in New York tonight.” I just love the bluntness/imagery of that. When writing I was alluding to burning friendships/relationships but I also sat back and thought like “wow imagine how crazy it would be to just look at the city skyline and see a major bridge-burning,” and that was important to capture because losing people in your life can have that same sort of blunt impact. On another song, I say “try and keep me down but I’m a good one, they be taking shots like I got a hood on.” I think that’s another favourite of mine because it’s the first time I’ve ever really touched on political things in my music. The climate of gun/racial violence in America is so prevalent it’s hard to not touch on that.
- Why did you begin ‘Wonder’ with an interview from other indie artists? As an independent artist, I understand the whole grind of it. A lot of artists tend to have an every man for himself mentality but for me Wonder, which is actually a sort of inspirational track, was all about uplifting the next person. I know there aren’t a lot of buzzing artists from my hometown but I know so many talented people so I had to put this together to showcase what the “forgotten borough” of New York (Staten Island) has to offer. Everyone has a dream.
- What are the misconceptions about being an indie artist? I think a lot of people assume every indie artist is just shamelessly plugging or in quest of a deal eventually. I don’t think record deals are necessarily bad, I just don’t think they’re for everyone and just like anyone else, indie artists look at their artistry as a job in which they have to work and grind in order to achieve things. The state of Music can definitely be welcoming for independence but it’s certainly not always encouraged so people should really keep in mind that artists are treating their music as a craft and a business/brand.
- What was it like working with Ryan P? Working with Ryan was great. I have what I think a lot of people would consider a small team, so I’m genuinely grateful for anyone who really rides for me. I essentially do everything alone and to have Ryan step in and EP my project just because he believed in the music was so humbling. He’s also a fellow artist so having him on Love Letter, and him being one of the few features, was really important to me. (people can check out him out on IG @xryantherapperx)
- What kind of work goes into writing a song? I think that’s dependent on the person. For me, it’s all about the sincerity. I’ve tried to write songs for other people, but unless I can genuinely relate to the emotion, it’s not going to work. So for me, sincerity is the first part. Be honest with yourself and the listener can pick that up. Then on the technical front, there’s a lot of rearranging bits, figuring out ad-libs and harmonies, sometimes I don’t even write lyrics down.
- What is the background behind Insecure? Insecure was just an open letter really. I’m lucky to have someone who is patient and supportive of my artistic endeavours, but it’s hard when you know all of the things you want to do for your family, friends, and loved ones but career-wise you’re just not there yet. I just wanted to be honest about the struggles I go through and the pain of that because I know a lot of other creatives go through it too.
- Most favourite part of the album process and least favourite? Favourite part of the album was definitely seeing my growth. I feel like my vocals, writing, and rapping are stronger and sonically the sound is just more eclectic. Though my least favourite part was trying to figure out what would make the cut because I recorded so much.
- Have you ever had to deal with performance anxiety? If so how do you handle it? I think my first couple of shows were uneasy because I wasn’t used to performing my own work. When you’re recording things you have the comfort of redoing things but once you’re live you’re live. Before every show I pray and have a drink lol it may not be the cure for everyone but it works for me.
- Favourite places to perform?) Anywhere in the city. There’s something about the urban environment that breathes creativity. Especially in places like Harlem.
- What kind of impact did living in New York have on your album? I think certain tracks have a grittiness which I think can be reflected in the NY atmosphere.
- What was an average day for you while creating the album? Definitely constant recording/writing. I would record a bit. Step away. Send stuff off to Ryan for mixing, have things tweaked. Then go right back to recording. It was very redundant but very necessary.
- Who is this album for? It’s for anyone and everyone who was ever doubted. It’s the underdog(s).
- What kind of impact do you hope this album will have? I hope this album provides growth in all forms. I really see this as a turning stone for me. Something that helps get me to that next level because I’ve put my heart into all of it.
- What was the best part about filming your music videos? I think testing what I could do without a budget was interesting. Obviously I know as the budget increases all of the quality will, however when you’re not working with anything, you really test your creativity. That and having Bri.H (@beeharrelll) direct everything and give her time really meant a lot to me.
- What’s the best musical memory/experience you have had? I think curating my own shows was a really high point. I was able to learn a lot about the overall artist experience while helping other independent acts get out there and share their work. It’s really important to me to help where and how I can.
- Who helped you create this album? Production wise, Soul Food features beats from Masked Man, Gambi, Lug Soda, Blue Lab Beats, Tom Misch, Taxxi, Emani, Illuid Haller, Jasepi, and Beats by Con. In terms of recording, everything was done at my own at home, and everything else was engineered by Ryan Pearson.
- How would you describe your sound? I like to say a lot of my sound is new jazz. New jazz to me is like a combo of R&B/HipHop, and jazz of course.
- Advice for any musicians creating their own albums? Do what you can with what you have. There are a lot of things you’re going to want to do but your resources may be limited. Either way, do what you can while you can, people admire that drive and ambition regardless of how far you have to go.
- What’s next for you? Right now the next few months will be full of music/visuals/ collabs. I have some more work coming with Ryan, hopefully, Lug Soda(@lugsoda)(who produced Insecure), another artist by the name of Huas (@justhuas), and a few more. I’m just focused on creating as much as possible and I’m glad to be working with a management team right now who I feel can really take me to that next point in my artistry.
- Special thank you to anyone? I definitely want to thank Sofia, she’s supported me so much and I’m forever in awe of her heart. I also want to thank a lot of my fellow creatives who’ve been supporting me consistently, not just when stuff was popping up, but rooting for me regardless. I need to thank Ryan for doing all of the engineering, all of the producers for their beautiful art, my family and friends for just being there whether or not they even realise their impact and most importantly God. This music is just something God has put in me and I need to thank Him always because without Him none of this would be possible for me.
A big good luck to Justy on the launch of her album, may success and happiness flow your way! Below are Justy’s social medias and links to her music, check it out!! I hope you guys enjoyed another instalment of ‘Meet the creatives’ and I’ll see you beautiful people in the next blog post!
Comment down below, who is your favourite indie artist(s)?
Justy’s social medias: