Today, we sat down with rising R&B star Justin Garner as part of The Stage platform to talk all things inspiration, dream collaborations, advice for new artists, career progression and more. Let’s go!
Hi Justin! So, firstly, tell us more about yourself and your background. How did you get into music, and what did your journey into the industry look like?
I was raised in a very small town, Plaquemine, LA, and grew up singing in the church choir. I discovered my vocal abilities in the Baptist church. A little later, I began to write my own songs and was heavily inspired by Lionel Richie and Earth, Wind and Fire. I was in awe of the world I was able to create through songwriting and composing melodies. From then, I went on to perform around my hometown at festivals, concerts and more to perfect my craft.
Things became serious when I was cast for an MTV singing competition (which I won) and began to officially launch my career as a professional recording artist. From then, I went on to open for Katy Perry, Leon Bridges, land on several major Apple Music & Spotify playlists, and hit #1 on iTunes R&B charts abroad.
Congratulations on your recent releases (namely ‘That’s What You Get’ and ‘Risky’ in 2021, as well as your amazing album ‘The Memoir’ released in 2020). How did these tracks/this album come about, and can you tell us more about the process of writing and recording them?
Thank you! ‘Risky’ is the first single in which fans and listeners can hear a new side of me. It’s bold, daring, mature and delivers smooth R&B vibes. I’ve grown so much since my earlier works, and I wanted to showcase that musically. I incorporated live bass guitar and ventured into a new space lyrically.
“That’s What You Get” is a cover of Paramore’s song from their album Riot! I thought it would be really cool to take a pop-rock song, strip it down, and make it R&B. The lyrics of the song are so heartfelt, and I wanted to bring them out more in a soulful way. We reproduced the entire track and only laid acoustic guitar to compliment the vocals.
Which artists inspire you the most and why? If you could work with anybody, who would it be?
Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and PJ Morton are artists that inspire me the most. I love how authentic each artist is, and how they have a very defined perspective on how their music and artistry are represented. If I could work with anyone, it would definitely be Beyoncé, as she is such a dynamic performer and an influential artist. I’m pretty sure any artist wouldn’t hesitate at the chance to work with her!
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout your career, and what advice would you have for aspiring artists or those starting out?
The important lesson is to always remain true to yourself. You do not have to compromise your gift, art, aura, or creativity for anyone. Create what you feel like creating. Don’t focus on the numbers, impressions, or streams. All of that will come when you focus on yourself. Also, some advice I would share with aspiring artists is to not be so hard on yourself. It takes a lot to be an artist, and to put yourself out there for all of the world to see, critique, analyze and sometimes judge. Never be afraid to shine.
What trends are you seeing in the industry currently – are there any that you want to get involved in? Or any that you dislike?
Ownership. I’m so happy to see artists not aspiring for the “I want to be famous” mindset, and taking on the “I want to create an empire” mindset. It’s so important for artists to be more than just entertainment by taking on all facets of their careers. From business, marketing, visuals, production; artists are taking on more responsibility and it’s so worth it in the end.
I do dislike the idea of ‘cancel culture’ as I feel it’s counterproductive to creating change and understanding for all involved. Before we attack and ‘cancel’, let’s understand the problem and make an informed decision.
How has your career changed or developed due to the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic?
My career has actually been positively affected since the pandemic! I was able to connect with my fans on a deeper level, using new technology such as livestreams, virtual meet & greets, frequent new music releases, and overall more interaction.
Have you felt any noticeable change since the protests and coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement this time last year, and what would you like to see happen in the near future?
I feel there is much work to be done since the Black Lives Matter movement this time last year, for us to head in the right direction. I still feel there is so much to learn about the issue, and it will take one’s sincerest empathy to understand just how traumatizing police brutality, wrongful killings and more are to the black community. What I would like to see in the future is mandatory discussions on the issues we face that are held in various communities and with other groups outside of the black community.
What’s been your best moment in the industry, or the work you’re most proud of?
The moment I’m most proud of would have to be performing at the 50th Annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. That was a dream fulfilled to share the stage with artists like Leon Bridges, Katy Perry, and more.
Here’s your chance to plug anything new! What are you working on and what should we be listening to or looking out for?
I have several things coming up! On October 14th, I’m performing my first global livestream concert on Moment House. Alongside my band and dancers, I will perform new music and fan favorites, live from the Marigny Opera House in New Orleans, LA. This event will showcase just what my live tour would look like if the pandemic hadn’t interrupted live tour plans. Tickets and info are available here.
Also, on October 15th, I am releasing my new FIRETAPE EP. It’s available for pre-save here.
Also this year, I was inducted into the Recording Academy as part of its 2021 GRAMMY Member Class. Such an honor as this means I’m one step closer to being nominated for a GRAMMY, which I’m sure is every artist’s dream.
Keep Up With Justin Garner
Thanks so much to Justin for chatting with us, and congratulations on all your success so far, we’re big fans! We’re also so excited to see what you get up to, and eagerly await FIRETAPE.
You can keep up with Justin Garner here:
Artist website: https://www.justingarner.com/
If you’re an artist and are interested in being featured on The Stage, you can submit your music to be part of our catalog, or inquire specifically about this initiative by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org and referencing The Stage.