Orchee Sorker | March 25, 2022
With over 135M global streams, viral Gen Z pop artist, Justus Bennetts shares the importance of stepping out of the comfort zone, TikTok’s influence on the music industry, his tour, and the process and collaboration behind his latest single “Don’t Trip” ft. GAYLE.
HAZZE MEDIA's Director of Press, Orchee Sorker, chats with Justus Bennetts virtually on Zoom (video interview below).
Photo Credit: Joseph Governale
O: "Hi, how are you doing? How was your day?"
Justus: "My day so far has been going really well. I've had a pretty hectic three weeks. I was in New York for two weeks, and then I was in LA for a week. Now, I'm back home in Raleigh, and I'm just relaxing. I'm trying to decompress a little bit."
O: "Music has been apart of your life since you were really young. How do you think music has changed you over the years? Was music something you always wanted to pursue?"
Justus: "I never actually saw myself pursuing music as a full-time thing until about a year ago when I actually started recording myself and releasing my music on a regular basis. It just didn't seem like something that was super attainable. I kept going and the more the music I put out I started doing better. It helped get a better mindset, and everything started changing."
O: "Speaking of your music…your songs are really catchy and your songwriting is vivid and expressive which adds to the storytelling that is in your songs which makes people connect emotionally. “Real Life Sux” has been an influential song to myself and probably many others. Why do you think taking the risk and getting out of your comfort zone is important to living fully?
Justus: "I think what I've heard over a lot of the time is that ‘comfort zone' is where dreams go to die’ because the more comfortable you get, the more satisfied you get with things that are generally average. If you get too comfortable, you kinda stop and you start coasting, and you don't actually try to push yourself harder. Pushing out of the comfort zone gets you to places that you normally wouldn't think of."
O: "Your latest release “Don’t Trip” is featuring GAYLE. How did the collaboration happen?"
Justus: "I wrote the song with some friends in upstate New York quite a while ago. We were sitting in the song for a long time…and before GAYLE had dropped the “abcdefu” song and everything started happening for her, she actually had messaged me on Instagram awhile ago. I actually never saw it until recently when I was in New York. She had messaged me and just said that she loved my music and everything. My management was talking about doing a feature for a couple of weeks. I saw that she was in New York cause I follow on Instagram. I had hit her up while she was in New York, and said we should get together and get in the studio to do it. It was like her last day there, so we weren't able to actually link up. She went to LA the day right after I had messaged her. We had pretty much locked in the idea of a feature, and she went to a studio and recorded her feature out there in LA. Then, sent it back to us, and, you know, it turned out really great. We eventually linked up this past week in LA and did a full photo shoot and music video and stuff for it. It kind of happened fairly naturally."
O: "What was the inspiration and creative process behind "Don't Trip"? Did you play the guitar section?"
Justus: "Well, so basically when we were making the song, it was just me and like my boys that I make all my music with. We were all just having fun in upstate New York. We rented out a cabin for a week and we had fun and just got ****** up making music the whole time. It was just like a really natural creative process. The whole point of the whole trip was to just have fun and make cool music. I think “Don't Trip” definitely falls into that category of ‘just not caring what everybody else thinks’...like not going on to societal norms or doing things that everybody tells you to do just because people tell you to do that.
I didn't, I wish I could play guitar like that. It was my producer friend, Doc…his buddy Amir actually played the guitar on it."
O: "2021 seemed like an altering year for you, with “Bad Day” charting top on iTunes and Spotify and now currently over 135M global streams. What do you think about social media, specifically TikTok, and how it's affecting the music industry?"
Justus: "It definitely has its positives and negatives. For me and a lot of people like it's had a very positive impact on a lot of people's careers. It's given people the ability to put their music in front of millions of people and actually make a career off of what they like to do. It made it more attainable compared to before you kind of posted on Instagram a little bit, but mostly you were trying to play shows and send your music to people and try to sell CDs.
On the other side of the coin, a lot of people get down when their music doesn't do well on TikTok. A lot of labels are like ‘we can't really back the song, unless it's going viral TikTok because that's how everything is right now. It's a struggle for a lot of artists that just want to make fun music, and they don't want to just make content for TikTok.
And if it doesn't do well on TikTok, then they don't know what they are going to do with their lives. That's definitely the negative side of it, but yeah."
O: "Do you think content creation, like having to make so much in so little amount of time, has affected you?"
Justus: "It's definitely affected me. It's just kinda tiring having to think about it when I just want to be an artist, make my music, and express myself. Having to constantly think about making content and doing stuff to keep people updated in order to stay relevant, because there's so much going on right now can be a little stressful…but it's all part of the job."
O: "I heard you are going on tour with GAYLE this spring and playing at the Bottle Rock Festival. Is this your first tour? What do you love most about live performances? What are you looking forward to most?"
Justus: "This will actually be my first tour. The first show we play in Nashville will be my second official live show. I'll actually have a drummer and we'll be doing it properly. The first time I did a show, it was just a backing track, and we didn't have a band or anything…but we're going to be doing things a little more proper this time. I'm super excited about it. The best thing about live tours is just being able to see everybody, you know, face to face and being able to actually connect with everybody in one room because you can feel the energy and you can feel everybody just, you know, getting down."
O: "I think that's all the questions I had. Thank you again for giving me your time! Best wishes to everything you will be putting out!"
Justus: "Thank you so much for having me!"