INTERVIEW: JUJ releases debut EP 'JUJ, It's U'
Up and coming US singer-songwriter JUJ grew up in Philadelphia before moving to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of creating music. She released her debut single ‘Mood’ earlier this year and last week released debut EP JUJ, It’s U. A compelling mix of R&B and pop, with slick 80s vibes in the mix, JUJ says she makes music that “the kids from the projects to the suburbs can relate to” and wants her fans to be empowered to foollow their dreams. We recently caught up with JUJ to find out more about her life, music and her future plans.
Hey JUJ! So great to chat with you. Can I start off by asking how is everything in the world of JUJ?
Hello! I’m so good, thank you! Super happy with life right now. I’m doing what I love surrounded by the people I love!
If we can take it all the way back to the beginning, what are your first memories of music?
I grew up in a household of parents who instilled in me my true love for music. My mom, a Brazilian immigrant, had Brazilian music and a ton of other genres constantly playing though my childhood. I have videos of me when I was five years old begging my parents to take me to a Josh Groban concert because he was my favorite. I then begged my parents to let me join a church choir even though we didn’t go to church. I just wanted to perform anywhere and everywhere I could.
Apart from Josh Groban, what other artists did you like growing up?
As a kid, I always loved Lady Gaga, Jennifer Nettles, and Demi Lovato. They have always been some of my greatest inspirations.
Was there a moment when you decided to make music a career?
Since I was young, this has always been my dream. I could not have seen myself do anything else. Music is what I lived for and was a part of everything I did. I would never be content doing anything else. I would rather eat from cereal boxes every meal and be doing what I love than have a 9-to-5 job and make millions.
What steps did you take to get where you are now – from a dream of being a musician to actually releasing music?
Hard work. Perseverance. And a great support system of people. I’m a very tenacious and determined person.
Where does the name ‘JUJ’ come from?
I was originally called “Julia” until my family from Brazil started calling me “JUJ” when I was five months old. It stuck, and ever since I have felt more like “JUJ” than “Julia.”
You’ve released five singles this year, most recently ‘Hollywood’. It’s a beautiful song, what was the inspiration behind it?
Thank you! ‘Hollywood’ talks about the reality that when you fight for your dreams, there are going to be setbacks, difficulties and challenges. I dropped out of high-school when I was seventeen to move across the country by myself to pursue music. When I did, I knew it wasn’t the city that I moved to that would have the answers for me, it was just a tool. All the work would have to be done for myself by myself.
During this chapter of my journey, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, right before I moved. I refused to let this setback get in the way of my dream. Unfortunately, this was not something I could control and a month after my move I got very, very sick.
Aside from the physical pain of the disease, the mental impact was devastating. Everything was just falling into place for me, and now it felt as if it would all fall apart.
When I moved here [Los Angeles] I was alone. I did not know anyone, so I invested a lot of time and attention to establish an amazing circle of friends. As I was cultivating these relationships, I secured a great day job and was beginning to actively perform open mic sessions that acted a stepping stone towards my pursuit to make music. I was also getting auditions and writing music constantly. Whatever doubts I had about the move were fading, and felt like I was proving everyone who ever doubted me wrong.
Then I got super sick. Since I was a minor, the only way I could get treated was back home. I was crushed. It felt as if everything I had built and worked so hard for was crumbling before my eyes. That every single person who told me I was crazy and that I would never succeed making music were right after all.
While it was definitely one of the most difficult and depressing situations in my life, I refused to let it take control of me and I would never let it identify who I was. Despite the difficulty and setback, I would fight this battle.
And that is just what I did. With the support of my family, I regained my health and moved back to California, more determined than ever to pursue my dream to make myself and the plan I had set out to accomplish it.
‘Hollywood’ is the part of my story that captures what it is like to become disillusioned with a dream when you encounter forks in the road. And in those circumstances, to fight on and through with determination and heart.
Your earlier single ‘Black Mirrors’ had a great, empowering message behind it. What were you trying to project with that song?
’Black Mirrors’ is an anthem to our generation to embrace these times and be the solution we want to see in today’s world. Remaining engulfed in our phones and not our surroundings will not create the change in the world we wish to see. Our generation is a generation of go-getters and this song is meant to inspire and empower us to chase our dreams.
Is there a particular message or vibe you like to get across with your music?
I want my listeners to feel empowered and inspired through this EP. I want to encourage and be a role model to the younger generation as well as my peers. I want to be brutally raw and honest with my listeners, so they can always relate.
Do you have a favourite part of the creative process – songwriting, recording, making videos, performing live?
My favorite part is definitely performing live. I really do feel the times I’m most myself and the most alive is onstage. I also love the storytelling element and the ability to translate an emotion or feeling directly to an audience through a song.
Do you see hope in the younger generation that some of the problems blighting the world today – sexism, environmental destruction, homophobia, racism – will die away when it is their turn to run the world?
One of my main goals for my music is to inspire a younger generation to create the change they want in the world. I am hopeful our generation will strive to continue to fight for what is right and do so together. I believe my generation has a drive to be reckoned with and I hope to continue to empower them through my music.
What’s up next for JUJ?
More music definitely! The grind never stops. Even when releasing this EP my team was adamant I remain in writing sessions. This is just the beginning!