JUSTINA CARUBIA [JUSTINACMUSIC]MUSIC
WH: What do you do? What is your musical specialty?
Justina: I am a singer/songwriter/musician. I write songs for my solo career on the acoustic guitar, and I also write songs and sing with my rock band Stelladeora. I am trying to get into writing songs to pitch to other artists on labels. I also play a bit of Ukulele.
WH: Do you work alone or in a group? If in a group, who are the others you work with?
Justina: I have been a solo artist , penning my own songs since 2001. More recently, since 2009 I have been working with my band Stelladeora, in creating high energy, in your face rock songs. (Stelladeora is Justina Carubia on vocals, Avinash Patel on guitar, Neil Brown on bass, & Mike Lyon on drums).
WH: Is there a web address where one can listen, see, or read some of your work?
MY Band Stelladeora:
My Solo Work:
My Portfolio of my work up to date:
Facebook Fan Page:
WH: Please list any awards, competitions, or other acknowledgments you would like to mention.
Justina: 4 Time Asbury Music Award Nominee
First Place Winner – Fully Loaded Vocal Contest in NYC, 2008
2 Time Grand Prize Winner, Stereofame Artist of the Month Contest, 2009 & 2010 (Stereofame.com)
WH: Please list discography in which you have participated.
A Dosage From Delusional
Download Free OR Donate HERE:
http://stelladeora.bandcamp.com/album/a-dosage-from-delusi (…) Last One Standing
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http://justina.bandcamp.com/album/last-one-standing-2007-e (…) Believe
2007 Benefit Single for Lainie’s Angels
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Break of Day
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WH: How did you begin making music? Who introduced you?
Justina: I have been singing my whole life, but it wasn’t until I asked my father for a guitar for my 18th birthday , that I started to take it seriously. He got me my first guitar and taught me my first few chords. My guitar was pretty much attached to my hip from that point on. I locked myself in my room for the next few months, and emerged with my first song, “When It’s Time”.
WH: What was your musical education?
Justina: I am a self taught musician.
WH: When did you realise that making music could be a way of life for you?
Justina: I still struggle with being able to make my music a way of life. I teach music enrichment to children as my day job, but I am still trying to find my niche as an artist in the industry.
WH: What is your creative process?
Justina: I write when I am inspired. Sometimes I’ll have a chord progression first, sometimes I will have a melody first. Sometimes the lyrics come first. It is different every time, that is the beauty of songwriting!
WH: When do you have your most lucid moments, in the morning or night?
Justina: Sometimes I will wake up with a melody in my head. Sometimes I have melodies pop in my head while I am in the shower. Sometimes I cannot go to bed at night until I get a song out of me, or at least get enough of an idea down on paper or recording, so I can get some sleep and finish it when I wake up in the morning. Songwriting is what feeds my insomnia. I have spent many a sleepless night working out parts to a new song.
WH: Have you ever awoken with a melody created from your dreams?
Justina: This occurance is very rare, but yes I have formed melodies in my dreams. It is important to sing into a recorder or write it down shortly after waking up, or it will be gone.
WH: How do you know when a song is finished or needs no more changes?
Justina: A song is never really finished. There are always ways to constantly rework parts, and make changes. As artists, I don’t think any of us are 100% happy with what we put out there. But there has to come a point, where you have to walk away from a song, or you will never get any music out there!
WH: How did you discover your creative territory? How would you describe it?
Justina: I guess I discovered my creative territory when I wrote my first song. I write by myself, in my room most of the time. It’s where I can really relax and be truly be true to myself and my own thoughts without feeling judged. When I collaborate with other musicians/producers, there is often a barrier I put up when trying to co-create. I have done it quite a few times, and it always takes some adjusting to when jumping back into a scenario like that.
WH: What part of your job is your least favourite?
Justina: My least favorite part of being a musician is rejection. Also building a fan base is the hardest thing I have ever encountered. It is super frustrating, and still have yet to conquer it completely.
WH: How often do you practice?
Justina: I play guitar every single day since I teach music. I have not played my solo material much as of lately, but I practice with my band Stelladeora about 1 to 2x a week.
WH: How do you feel right before going out on stage?
Justina: If I’m gigging regularly, I won’t get as nervous before going onstage. If I’m playing a show for the first time in awhile, I get nervous before I go onstage. If we’re debuting new songs to fans, and it is the first time playing it to the crowd, that can be very nerve racking. Also I get more nervous in front of intimate crowds, than I do in front of large crowds. I think it’s the awkward silence *crickets chirping*.
WH: Which musicians or groups have been inspiring to your career?
Justina: When I first started out as a solo acoustic artist, I listened to a lot of Jewel, Michelle Branch, Sheryl Crow, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles. I was more into solo artists and classic rock.Vocally I really love singing to Pat Benatar, Patty Smyth, & Christina Aguilera.As I grew into my vocal style, I started loving more huge, epic sounding bands. I love Incubus, Paramore, Envy on the Coast, VersaEmerge, The Used, Coheed & Cambria, Evanescence. They really inspired me to start my band project Stelladeora.
I love powerful vocally driven material. My latest music is the most challenging stuff I have sung up to date.
WH: List three songs that are key to your life.
Justina: “Imagine” – John Lennon
Who DOESN’T love this song? It brings me to tears everytime.
“Heavenly Day” – Patty Griffin
The essence of this song is just so carefree, and it always makes me sit back, and enjoy life and appreciate everything I have.“When It’s Time” – Original song by me.
It was the first song I ever wrote to get me started on my musical journey,
so I always feel a sense of gratitude to that song.
WH: What should be done to stop piracy?
Justina: That depends on how you define piracy. I think sites where the users are encouraged to make their own movies to share with friends, are getting a little out of hand with putting restrictions on the music you use. If you are not using music for commercial use, then I don’t see why a 2 year old should get sued for putting up a video of them lip syncing to a song.It’s the greedy labels and corporations.. cuz personally, I’d love it for people to use my songs in their videos! Feel free!:-)
WH: What type of music do you detest?
Justina: I’m not really into music that doesn’t have a melody, or a vocalist with good tone/pitch. The vocalist to me is what makes or breaks a band/artist. Also the song should have a good hook. I’m also not really into hipster music , aka bands I’ve “probably never heard of”, heh.
WH: What time did you get up this morning?
Justina: I think like 10:30 hahaha , what do you want from me, I’m a musician!
WH: How do you sell yourself? What has been your experience with record companies and representatives?
Justina: I have pitched to some major labels quite a few times. It has always pretty much ended the same way. They love my voice, but I don’t have the songs, or the fanbase. Unfortunately no one takes risks on an artist anymore, it’s all about the numbers. But honestly, if you can form your own fanbase, then who needs a label at that point? It’s a catch 22 really…
WH: What other things have you done to make a living?
Justina: I have worked data entry & receptionists jobs, I’ve painted jewelry for QVC, I’ve been a photographer’s assistant for school portraits, have worked children’s tea parties and birthday events, and more recently I teach a music enrichment program for children in preschools and day care centers.
WH: Have you ever played on the street or in the subway? How much did you collect each day?
Justina: I have busked a few times, but not enough to call it a living.
WH: Who would you play with, without a doubt?
Justina: I would play with any of the bands I listed in my above influences.
WH: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?
Justina: I would tell someone just starting out , to be realistic. It’s easy to come into this business with stars in your eyes, but just be prepared for a lot of rejection and hardships. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Work hard, play out, promote yourself, constantly update your social media profiles. Talk to your fans!It’s important to be in contact with the people who support what you do, even if they are complete strangers. Your friends and family will always be your fans by default, but when people you don’t even know are showing interest, you want to keep them interested. They’re the ones who will be buying your albums, and going to the shows. And last but not least, DON’T EVER STOP! If something isn’t working for you , change directions, but don’t ever stop.
For those of you who missed my call-in interview with Catherine Michaels on 100.7 WHUD last week….now you can listen to it right here!
Justina on Night Rhythms 100.7 WHUD by JustinaCMusic
Also check out Catherine’s Blog for some nice little words about me:
“Last night in our Hudson Valley Artist Spotlight, we met Justina and listened to
her sing Write Me a Song from her EP titled Last One Standing.
Justina will be live at The Bitter End on Bleecker St. in Manhattan next
Sunday night (12/14) at 9pm.”
STOLI GETS TO KNOW JUSTINA WHILE VISITING JERSEY November 17, 2008 | by Skope
My next guest is an incredibly talented musician from New Jersey. Her voice draws you in and her songwriting is real & personal. She is only 23 but her music is years beyond her age. Join me as we talk about her latest EP, the election, life, charity work and much more!
Stoli: You have been writing songs since the age of 18. How would you say that your writing has matured from 18 to 24?
Justina: I think the natural process of growing up and going through more experiences as a young adult opens your eyes to a lot of things. I think now, more so than ever, I just want to be honest in my music, and not have to censor myself. I think music should always be honest. I have also grown to be more metaphoric with the way I write my lyrics, and I try to think outside of the box… Metaphorically honest, would that be an oxymoron? Hahhahah…
Stoli: Why did you decide to title your latest EP release as ‘The Last One Standing?’
Justina: After doing pre-production on all of the final songs I decided to place on this demo, I realized that all of the songs chosen had the same underlying theme: Rejection. It’s like when you’re in grade school gym class and everyone’s picking teams. It’s down to just you, and both team captains just kinda look at each other like they don’t know what to do with you, they don’t know where you fit. That’s kinda how I felt after being rejected by the first few labels I shopped to. The title “Last One Standing” just seemed so fitting. Rejection happens to everyone, but it’s part of life. This collection of songs is dedicated to anyone who is going through that.
Stoli: What kind of mental state do you have to be in when you set out to create new music?
Justina: I think I write a lot in Retrospect. I don’t know why that is, but it seems like whenever I try to write in the moment, I have a hard time sorting out thoughts. It is too overwhelming, especially when it comes to love and breakups. I like to let some time go by and look at things from a distance and it is usually then that I can figure out exactly what I was thinking and find better words to say it in song.
Stoli: As a young and attractive woman, you must have your experiences with love. How much does your personal life come out in your songwriting?
Justina: Although I do enjoy writing about fictional scenarios, and situations other than love, a majority is based off of my own personal life, and I think it’s just what comes most natural to me. I am an emotionally driven person, I like to write from the heart and keep things as honest as possible. I don’t want to bore people with my problems though, so I usually try to find a good balance between fact and fiction.
Stoli: You have developed an impressive portfolio of music, videos, images, etc. How important is signing to a major label or are you happy pursuing the indie route?
Justina: Thanks! Signing with a major label used to be my main goal with my career, but I think the majors are in pretty bad shape these days. I am pretty comfortable with where I am at as far as being able to put out the music I make, and make the videos I make at my own pace, and not really have anyone breathing down my neck, trying to create another pop star. I think there is a lot of control the majors have over their artists, and to me that is really a shame. I don’t mind pursuing the indie route. It does get tough though, budget-wise, to not be able to do certain things like record full albums, or do nation wide touring because I still have a day job.
Stoli: Coming up as a musician what other female singer/songwriters did you admire & why?
Justina: I really admire lyricists like Stevie Nicks, Jewel, and Vanessa Carlton because they always have an interesting story to tell, whether it’s fictional or real. They know how to draw you in. I also really admire strong vocalists like Christina Aguilera, Pat Benatar, and Janis Joplin because there is an incredible rawness about all of their vocals. If you hear anyone of them on the radio, you would recognize them right because they all have a unique style. It’s important to have something that sets you apart from the rest. That’s how people remember you.
Stoli: With the election coming up next week what issue is the most important to you when you vote?
Justina: Although I do think this is probably the most controversial election of my life so far, I really try to keep politics out of my songwriting. I am planning to vote this election, but I really don’t believe in preaching my beliefs to people whether it’s about politics or religion, because I don’t think it changes anything. Everyone has their own beliefs. To each their own, who am I to judge about what others believe?
Stoli: When you are preparing to perform live, what do you do to get prepared?
Justina: I don’t really have any special pre-show rituals. I do warm up on my guitar, and my vocals though. I used to get really nervous before shows, so I used to put on “My Sherona” and dance off the pre-stage butterflies. It kinda helped, hehehe.
Stoli: In 2005, you donated a song “Believe” to help raise money for Cancer & blood disorders. What made you choose this worthy cause?
Justina: I was in NYC doing a photo shoot back in 2005, and the building I was in was holding this benefit for this organization called Lainie’s Angels. We had asked if I could sing a few songs for them, but they didn’t have a microphone or equipment, but they were interested in having me involved with the organization in some way. They were holding a soccer event that October, which they asked me to sing at and I agreed to gladly. While I was there, I decided to check out the merch booth, and I saw a greeting card with the angel logo and the word “Believe” on it. I had already written a song called “Believe” a couple years prior to this experience, so I thought it was so fitting to donate the song to such a cause.
So I talked with the founder, Stathi Afendoulis, whose daughter Lainie had lost her battle with the awful disease in 2000. He told my family and I Lainie’s story and I just felt like I had to do something to help raise awareness. I ended up recording the song for them on a CD Single, and now they sell the CDs at their events. All of the proceeds go back into the organization. I have been singing “Believe” at their soccer event every October for about 5 years now. If I can touch people’s lives with a song, then I have done my job as a songwriter :-D. You can learn more about how you can help out Lainie’s Angels at www.LainiesAngels.com!
Stoli: When you are not working on your music career what do you like to do in your own time off?
Justina: I like to support my fellow musicians, I like to go to other bands’ shows and listen to the new music out there. I also like to collage furniture, and paint. I like to read a lot, I have become quite the book nerd lately! I love the works of Francesca Lia Block and Stephenie Meyer.
Stoli: If there was one thing you want my readers to know about Justina what would that be?
Justina: It’s been a long hard road so far and it’s such a struggle to get your music heard as an up and coming musician. I just want people to listen to my music and feel like they know me. Because that is what my music is: it’s my love, my anger, my humor, and my sadness. It’s just me, and I hope I can inspire others to share their stories as well whether it’s through music, poetry, paintings, or any other art form! 😀
Stoli: Thank you, all the best!
Justina: Thank you so much!!
Richie Frieman at PensEyeView.com was kind enough to do a feature on me this month on his online music blog….take a look!
When introducing any PensEyeView artist, we always looks for some sort of topic to kick things off – something that’ll really stand out in the minds of our readers. There’s so much we can talk about with today’s feature: Justina Carubia.
We could tell you about her four Asbury Music Award nominations, the fact she writes all of her songs, or about her “soft, yet soulful rock vocal approach.” But that’s not how we’re kicking things off. I want to talk about song covers.
Song covers are underappreciated. A cover song can tell you so much about an artist – what they like, how they see music. I mean, seriously, it can tell you the true identity of an artist. With that said, have you checked out Carubia’s take on Flo Rida’s smash, “Low?” Of course, an acoustic version of a hip-hop hit is different, but listen to her take! She adds a whole new flare to the hit.
When you hear her EP, “Last One Standing,” you’ll hear what I’m talking about – though in a different tone from a “Low” cover. The EP deals in rejection. Justina says, “I was at a really low point after my first EP (Break of Day): I got turned down by a few labels, dealt with the breakup of my live band, and with ‘friends’ I couldn’t really rely on. Rejection is something everyone has experienced, and it can really make you feel horrible and worthless. So I really wanted to make a collection of songs to inspire others who are going through the same thing, and give them hope to come out a stronger person.
”“Last One Standing” is pure Justina Carubia – she was able to control the project from start to finish (so no doubt you’ll notice the flare I’ve mentioned). Come out to a performance – she’s had tons of experience to produce the quality show she has now. She’ll be hitting up FYE stores in the near future to play for and meet her fans, and then focusing on a full album. We can’t wait. Get into the XXQ’s for a lot more.XXQs: Justina Carubia PensEyeView.com
(PEV): Tell how you first decided to become a musician? Was it something you always wanted to do or did some event spark the idea?
JC: It was the beginning of my freshman year of college (2001), around the time that the female singer songwriters like Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton, and Jewel, were really dominating the market. It really caught my interest, and I had always had a love for singing and poetry so I really wanted to try something of my own. I asked my dad for a guitar for my 18th birthday, so he got me one and showed me some chords. I pretty much took it and ran with it. It just came very natural to me.
PEV: A New Jersey native, what kind of music were you listening to growing up?
JC: I grew up with my parents blasting records by The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Paul Simon, and Eric Clapton, so it was a nice mix of Folk and Rock. My mom also played a lot of chick rock like The Bangles, The Go Gos, Blondie, and Pat Benatar…there’s just something so tough and cool about being a rock chick!
PEV: Along with being an Asbury Music Award Nominee, you also recently made your television debut with the unreleased song “Oxygen” on Philadelphia’s The 10! Show. How did that come about and what were your thoughts of the show?
JC: I started working with a booking agent and he gave me the offer. I jumped at it right away! I had never done TV before, and it is an amazing opportunity to be able to reach so many people at once…it went really well, and I networked with a lot of people. It’s important to network any way you can!
PEV: What was it like for you when you were first breaking into the music business? Before you started playing regular gigs?
JC: When I first started out I was playing a lot of open mics and coffeehouses. I haven’t stopped playing any of those things, open mics are actually still a good practice to get out and do, if I don’t have any gigs scheduled. It’s still a struggle to get my music heard, and build that following.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Justina Carubia show?
JC: Lately I have been playing all of my shows acoustic, so they are pretty intimate settings where I get to kinda talk to the crowd and tell stories behind the songs. I also like to mix up the set list all the time. I’ll bring back some of my older songs my fans have grown to know and love, or I’ll break out a brand new song, maybe even a cover song. I think I have become a lot more daring with the carelessness of a set…. I forget words or chords to my own songs, and I shrug it off. Not that I don’t care, of course I do, but careless is so much more rock n’ roll! It seems to give the audience a little laugh, and humor in a set is always fun! I also love some audience participation!
PEV: How have your shows evolved from when you first started out?
JC: My live shows have gone through so many changes, starting out as an acoustic act, and then performing with a band, then back to the acoustic thing. I think change is important; it keeps the audience coming back. I think I’m taking more chances now, vocally. I’m playing more vocally demanding songs live, and I’m getting more comfortable doing so. I’m finding myself as a performer, not just a studio vocalist anymore…
PEV: Any embarrassing or crazy live show stories?
JC: About a week ago I had a show in NYC, and a drunken construction worker started dancing to “Oxygen” right in front of me…he had his hard hat on and everything. It’s hard to get through those kinds of things without cracking up, so I just encourage it. I told him to “drop it like it’s hot”…it gave the audience a good laugh! One of my friends even started dancing with him, so that was funny…Yea I also have habits of swallowing bugs, or having them fly into my face during those outdoor shows…
PEV: If you could collaborate with one artist out today, who would it be and why?
JC: I would love to collaborate with a lot of people, it’s so hard to choose just one! I would really love to collab with Stevie Nicks though. She has been an idol of mine for a very long time, and I know she has worked with many other favorite artists of mine like Sheryl Crow and Vanessa Carlton so her style would probably compliment mine as well. Also she just seems like a very graceful yet strong presence. It would be an honor to do a song with her!
PEV: As well, is there an up and coming artist right now that you think we should all be looking out for?
JC: I am a big fan of Terra Naomi who has grown a huge fan base from her You Tube page. Also, fellow musician and Jerseyan’s band Charlotte Sometimes has been doing really well making a name for themselves. I used to play shows with her at local cafes and now she’s playing Warped Tour, so that is pretty amazing to see things happen for someone so close to home.
PEV: Tell us, what can fans expect from your long awaited follow-up EP “Last One Standing”(Nov. 2007)?
JC: It was a musical journey for me. It touches a lot on the theme of rejection. I was at a really low point after my first EP: I got turned down by a few labels, dealt with the breakup of my live band, and with “friends” I couldn’t really rely on. Rejection is something everyone has experienced, and it can really make you feel horrible and worthless. So I really wanted to make a collection of songs to inspire others who are going through the same thing, and give them hope to come out a stronger person.
PEV: How is “Last One Standing” different from your May of 2005 five-song debut EP titled “Break of Day”?
JC: Most of the songs on Break of Day were written when I had just started out, and I even co-wrote a couple. The production was in the control of the producers, they did all the music on their time, and I came in and did vocals when they needed me. I wasn’t as involved as I would have liked to be, and there was a deadline, so I felt like those songs weren’t really developed the way they should have been. With Last One Standing, I saw the project from beginning to the very end; Writing every song and melody, The pre-production, the studio sessions with every musician that played on every track, to the album artwork, vocals of course, down to the mixing/mastering/packaging, and even designed my own website.
I had full control of the 2nd EP, so I feel like that was my baby, and I am so proud of it. I also feel like with LOS, you can hear the difference in the content, and in my voice. I have definitely matured as a writer, and with this collection of songs I think I really found my voice. I was a lot more daring with hitting higher notes, and doing more vocal riffs.Working with Wayne Dorell (Hey Tiger), who produced LOS, was a comfortable and creative experience. We really took our time with things, and made sure everything was 100% before moving on to the next track…. Are there things I’d still change about LOS? Of course, but that’s just the perfectionist in me!
PEV: When you sit down to write an album like “Last One Standing” what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?
JC: When I write, I like to lock myself in my room and just tune the world out. I feel bad for abandoning the people around me, but sometimes it helps to get into that introverted kinda mode. I always/usually write alone. Writing songs is very private to me, just as it is writing in a diary, which is why I find it so hard to co-write. I’m only able to write with those who I feel a certain comfortable connection with…it’s hard to explain, but maybe I’m just musically strange, hahaha!
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Justina Carubia?
JC: I used to be extremely shy back in high school, and never dreamed in a million years that I would be doing something that involved performing in front of people. I never even did chorus in high school because I was scared to sing in front of people. It takes getting a little older and growing some confidence to realize that if you’re given a gift, you should use it, or at least try to.
PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?
JC: They’re all so amazingly supportive of what I have achieved so far, I’m really fortunate to have that support system. Some kids have parents who want them to be lawyers and doctors, something that has a promising income. But my parents are John Lennon fans, they’re definitely dreamers, I’m not the only one.
PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio right now, what’s one thing we’d most likely find?
JC: I know it sounds really glamorous and all, but my practice studio is actually my room, haha! I have a pretty big walk in closet with a desk, so I have my laptop set up in there, and of course a pen, notepad and guitar. It’s its own little nook in my house, and I know nobody will bother me there. Also lots of candles, incense, and glasses of green tea help to relax and clear the mind.
PEV: How is life on the road for you? Good parts? Bad parts?
JC: I traveled a couple times to support my music, but never have I done a full on tour. That is definitely a dream of mine! In any event, gas station bathrooms are definitely not the best things about traveling! The good part is seeing what each city has to offer, networking my @$$ off and trying a different restaurant each night… I love food!
PEV: In your opinion, is there a certain city (US or International) that you find to be the best city for music?
JC: A couple weeks ago I played in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in NY. It was a very quaint area; there were music clubs all over the place. NYC is great, I love going into the city! I also have a love for New Hope, PA, Sedona, AZ, and Savannah, GA. I just got back from Philly though, and South Street is just happening with the music…I hope to play there again soon!
PEV: As well, where’s one place you haven’t played, you would like to? Why?
JC: I would LOVE to visit New Orleans because I have heard so much about the streets being filled with music all hours of the night! It’s just one big party! Also I would really love to go to Nashville, TN and take a trip to Music Row.
PEV: Where do you think you’ll be ten years from now?
JC: It’s kinda scary to think of 10 years from now, when I don’t even know what’s gonna happen tomorrow…or even 5 minutes from now for that matter! I hope to still be rocking out and creating more. Most importantly, I hope I can eventually do music comfortably enough to make a nice living out of it. I hope I’m not stuck at this day job forever!!
PEV: So, what’s next for Justina Carubia?
JC: I have a consignment deal with FYE stores in the works… I have been writing all through last winter, so I have a catalogue of new songs waiting to be recorded. I would really love to do a full album, and I would really love to tour. I guess we’ll just wait and see!
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