Interview: Justin Tracy on Motivation and Inspirations
by Daniel Haim
When it comes to Justin Tracy’s music there’s a good deal of truth in the saying ”Music is what feelings sound like.” I remember just about a year ago we were headed downtown and I can assure you that we witnessed an brilliant intimate show by the British singer Justin Tracy. The New York City venue where the performance took place was small and cosy with the perfect amount of fans. While we were sippin’ on some red wine, it was just our luck that we got to hear the hit track, ‘Horizon’.
‘Horizon’ expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent, in my opinion it is truly a masterpiece. The sound of the piano played by Justin Tracy were further enhanced by an amazing solo on the base guitar by Adam Chilenski. I can assure you that every one there had goosebumps.
The music created an aesthetic atmosphere in the venue throughout the 45 minute set. Tracy plays not only the guitar but also other instruments including the piano with skills beyond an amateur. Justin’s vocals have similarities to Chris Martin as it was definitely calming, and great to watch. I will not be surprised if in just a year or two Justin will be winning a GRAMMY award for best singer. Yes, he is that great.
Today Justin Tracy is here to share with us a few words and to talk about the long anticipated album which is just about around the corner but also to tell us about his life, inspirations and his thoughts of the current stage of the music industry and where it’s all headed to.
Daniel: Tell me about yourself, where are you from and how did you end up in New York?
Justin: I’m from London, England, coming to New York was a dream of mine from an early age. I came here to pursue music, I knew only one person in NY and they wanted to act as my manager. I’ve been here for roughly ten years now and have had very interesting experience so far getting deals, breaking deals, touring, studying, song writing, writing for other artists and recently producing other Artists, following the usual extreme ups and downs of the artists life, one has to learn to take the crunch with the smooth!
Daniel: When did you realize that music is what you were meant to do?
Justin: I was five years old and I was given a pair of hand drums at school and started playing while the other kids started dancing around, I am sure the whole this was ridiculous, but I loved it.
Daniel: How did you get interested and start playing?
Justin: I guess I partially answered this question with the last one. I had a keen ear and would play things without the written music, so I was able to play more freely and copy songs that I liked. I think that got me going.
Daniel: From what do you draw upon for your musical inspiration and who are your major influences in the music industry?
Justin: Lately I tend to follow the producers I like, and that leads me to the artists. Producers like Nigel Godrich, Ethan Johns, Phil Eck, Tony Visconti, Andy Wallace and Josh Wilbur.
I like the Bands like “Kashmir” and “Sigur ros” and I always go back to my favorite Mod bands from the 60’s like The Small Faces, The Kinks and The Who and Brit folkies like John Martyn and Nick Drake.
As far as the industry goes I have been really inspired by David Foster after just reading his book “Hitman”. I admire Artist Ray Lamontagne for his music and for his success.
Daniel: What are your hopes and aspirations in regards to a label?
Justin: Labels are no longer absolutely necessary for any artist as you can still grow an audience, create a buzz and sell music without one. Having said that two people are stronger than one and I love collaboration. I have a couple of labels courting me for this next record, but that position is still up in the air right now, I hope to find the right match, that is more important than just finding a label .
Daniel: What keeps you motivated to make music?
Justin: It’s a magical feeling when you stumble upon something that sounds beautiful, it’s like a spiritual treasure hunt, and when you find it it give you a true feeling of purpose in life. I imagine it’s something like having children.
Daniel: What has been your most memorable experience, as an artist, so far?
Justin: Opening for Jimmy Cliff at the Nice Jazz festival in front of 10,000 people, that was a real high point, they had never heard our music before and we won the crowd…. and meeting Jimmy Page!
Daniel: How has the music industry changed since you started and how has your perspective about it changed?
Justin: It is completely different now. Back when I started, it was all about the Label, they controlled everything, they even manipulated audiences by what they made available. But if you were lucky enough to get signed and released, you had a chance for a big career because the Major’s had crazy money for promotion and distribution.
Now it’s all digital, you can do a lot of it by yourself from professional home recording to online distribution. The Challenge now is that everyone and their mother is self proclaimed “Artist” or has a band, so the market has become saturated. This means, it is tricky to get noticed.
One good thing contrary to the old days is you won’t have much of a career if you can’t play live.
I do miss the “Album” days, but in theory all this change is good because the audience has more choice and that will hopefully keep the standards high.
Daniel: Rumors say that there is an album on the way. In your words could you describe what we could expect besides your brilliant voice and music?
Justin: Thank you for that, well it’s 3 years of unreleased songs and I am no longer controlled by a label anymore, so it will be purely creative with no restrictions. I am really exited to start tracking this.It will be a full length Stellar Moss record, I can tell you this, it will be the best thing I’ve ever done.