What can you tell us Aussies about you? How and where did it all begin?
Well my name is Justin Carter and honestly I’ve been singing and playing music as far back as I can remember. I guess the first time I was asked to sing aloud by myself was by my mother, Kay Carter. I had been watching a Disney movie on TV and apparently was singing along. I remember she came in and muted the movie. I remember thinking I was about to be in so much trouble but to my surprise she just asked me to keep singing. So I sang for her, and not long after that I sang for almost every family function I can remember. From there I found myself singing where ever I could to be heard, sometimes it did get me into trouble, especially at school. But still I would sing everywhere from school to church and even more and more family functions. It wasn’t until October 1998 though that I would realize the immense power that music could have. That’s about the time my dad bought us tickets to go see Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope Tour. I remember being mesmerized by her and by the spectacle of it all and then looking back into the crowd and seeing everyone so keyed into her message. That’s when I knew that music would be a part of me forever. That’s when I realized that I wanted to connect with the world through music.
What had you first interested in music?
Even from a young age I remember my house was full of music. My mom would sing old hymns around the house all the time and my dad was always listening to either Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, the Temptations or Stevie Wonder. Admittedly neither of my parents proclaim some great vocal ability but having a house filled with music — and I mean some of the best music the world has ever known — it captivated me. I was pulled in immediately. I remember just being so in awe of concert footage of Michael and Madonna and Tina Turner. How much fire they had inside of them that got them up on that stage night after night to bare themselves completely. That’s when I knew there was no other profession for me. It was music or it was nothing.
Who motivates or influences your quest to make great music?
Honestly my musical signature and identity would not exist without two people in particular and they are both my good friends and fellow songwriters Kelly Kidd and Thomas Gallmeier. Both of these guys are just top notch when it comes to creating a truly unique and authentic sound — the both of them having been in the industry for quite some time. Immediately when we started collaborating on my project we all felt a bond and a spark that has since ignited into beautiful melodies and songs. They push me in ways I’ve never been pushed and are constantly challenging me to really pull something from inside. I know in several of our writing sessions I unearthed things about myself and my past that I thought were forgotten or that I was ok with and yet here they were turning up in our songs. It really was lightning in a bottle for me and I couldn’t be happier with what we’ve created.
Do you have any planned tours coming up?
I am in the middle of planning a West Coast tour that will travel up the coastline from San Diego up through San Francisco and then after that definitely want to keep the momentum up. I am a new artist and to me that means I need to keep moving and getting to new audiences so for sure 2012 will be filled with gigs, gigs and more gigs.
What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
In all honesty I just want to connect my story and perspective to an audience. It’s a very raw and vulnerable thing to write down your life and your biggest fears and most troublesome times and to sing it to strangers. But what makes music magic is the fact that after just 3 minutes on stage you and the audience members are no longer strangers. They know you deeply and in that connection is the reward of making music.
What can fans expect from you in the coming months?
Well I have been hard at work trying to put the finishing touches on my first ever release, an EP titled “Things Fall Apart” — which is scheduled out July 1st. Other than that gigs, tours and more gigs. I am booking any and everywhere that will give me a microphone and really getting out there to connect with people. I have a few bigger shows in the works here in LA and then afterwards its wherever the music takes me. I have also been approached by a few producers and people overseas in Europe to potentially collaborate on a new project as well so there is a lot on the table at the moment and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Before this past year I would have said that my career highlight was being a finalist on American Idol but this year has truly been a remarkable one for self discovery for me. After I was voted off of the show I really went into a dark place. I felt so rejected and so adrift but when I was challenged to sit down and pour myself and my thoughts and experiences into song I took that challenge and I ran with it. I think in all honesty that me finding myself and really exploring myself and experimenting with music and with sounds THAT to date has been not only a career highlight but a life highlight. I found a strength inside of me I didn’t know was there and I’m a better person and a much more defined and vocal artist than ever before.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
I grew up listening to some of the greatest music with the Jacksons, Stevie, Mariah Carey, the Temptations, Tina Turner, Ray Charles — just pioneers in music! But I truly love some of today’s artists such as Imogen Heap, OneRepublic, Maroon 5 and Coldplay — they are all great! I also have a distinct love for the realness and raw talent of the late Amy Winehouse! She was such a huge talent but her music is timeless and is her legacy! But for a while now I’ve had a very real infatuation with ADELE who admittedly I am just mesmerized by. I think she’s really taken POP music back to a place where it’s genuine and organic. There’s a complicated simplicity to her that just makes me fall for her sound more and more. She’s amazing!
How would you best describe you and your music to your fans?
My music is a mixture of many different styles and influences. It’s POP meets SOUL meets ROCK with a side of acoustic! It’s how I grew up. I grew up with these genres of music and now it’s all manifesting itself into my sound. I love it.
What can you tell us about your latest album?
The new album, which will be my first release is scheduled for July 1st (my mom and dad’s anniversary — happy anniversary mom and dad!!!) and is called “Things Fall Apart”. The EP consists of 5 original songs all autobiographical — which come from a very fractured or vulnerable place. There are songs that talk about love gone wrong, one is about substance abuse, and others will speak on how we as imperfect humans can and will break perfect things. That said though it is important to note that this album shouldn’t be mistaken to reflect a defeated point of view. It’s title Thing’s Fall Apart is an affirmation! Things do break and bad things may come into our lives and we even may cause them but it’s important that we know that life continues afterwards. There is a light that we are working towards — there is a remedy to madness but only if we can accept and know that it’s ok if we break a time or two.
Are there any new exciting projects in the works?
Well now that I’ve begun writing I can’t stop so that is always ongoing. But yes, I am also in works to collaborate with a few artists one being a good friend Jess Furman who is a fellow singer/ songwriter and an incredible talent here in LA! She and I are working on a collaboration. I am also in talks with some producers and artists overseas on some projects which I can’t give too many details on just yet but it is going to be an amazing year needless to say! I’m very exciting for every opportunity I have been given so far and am always looking to the future.
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
Honestly in my mind, when I imagine myself years from now I see myself on stage singing! I see myself writing new material and being more honed in to my art and to myself. I think that that’s truly all that I can hope for — to really develop myself as an artist. I’d love to say I’ll have several Grammy awards by then and be selling out huge venues around the world but none of that matters without the definition and focus on your craft and I’m such an awful perfection I’m sure I’ll always be wanting to better myself on some level. But who knows?! Only time can tell it’s secrets.
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
I knew this was question was coming and I am ready for it! I was and will always be a great fan of Natalie Imbruglia! I think she has such a great artistry about her and she seems really down to Earth. Also like some Keith Urban and a little Gotye! Both class acts for sure! And I find myself slowly getting onto the Sia bandwagon. I think she has such a unique voice.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
Oviously without the public eye and without an audience to listen I’d be just making records for myself and my friends (which would still be somewhat cathartic I suppose) but ultimately it is the goal of a musician to be heard. I have seen the industry change over the years. Gone are the days of gigantic label names coming in and discovering a no body and really shooting them into the stratosphere — it’s almost like having the lottery taken away! BUT I’ve never been more excited because it now puts more control into the hands of the independent and unsigned artist! With youtube and twitter and itunes I can release my music and really connect with people around the world that I may not have had the opportunity to do so before. I really love doing the groundwork and getting out into the cyberverse and onto stages across the globe that will connect me to new people! It makes me appreciate everything all that much more.
Thank you for the interview! What can you leave fans of TheAussieWord blog with here today?
First off I wanted to thank you guys for giving me yet another opportunity to be heard! You guys are so awesome to cultivate a home for new and upcoming artist as well as established acts so thank you for that! For TheAussieWord and for its readers I will say sometimes it’s a scary place to put yourself out there and make a statement that you believe in. Sometimes it’s overwhelming! But it’s worth every moment to realize your true vision on life, love and art. Never silence who you are and DREAM BIG always!