Kristen Hope Justice

 

She wasn't always so self-assured and adventurous. It's been a tough and rewarding journey for Kristen Hope Justice whose original sound is now cascading through the airwaves as her new country ballad single ‘Shape This Love’ rockets up the charts.

Kristen Hope Justice brings an exquisite sensitivity to her music, creating an authentic sound that simultaneously honors and breaks the traditional rules of songwriting. It is an approach that is earning this artist out of Atlanta much acclaim lately and has propelled her debut radio single ‘Shape This Love’ to the top of the charts. One critic recently went so far as to comment: ‘The most striking aspects of Kristen Hope Justice's new album are the dreamy production aesthetic and fervent vocality, together they perfectly package the compositional ingenuity of the material in its inherent state.’ Reporter Lauren Scott recently caught up with Kristen Hope Justice to learn more about this intriguing artist, her artistic inspirations and plans for the future.

LAUREN: Let's just get this out in the open- What is the craziest thing that has happened to you in your music career?
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: I don’t know if I’d call it crazy, but I could definitely classify it as a very Niceville surprise! I was on a gig in rural South Florida, in a town called Niceville, FL and we were playing a festival. Those were the only details I knew. Our van pulled up from driving the long six hour drive in a van packed full of musicians and gear into what looked like the middle of nowehere. The Banner of the festival read “The Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival”. Everywhere I turned around there was camouflage. Woods and camouflage. I am a country girl, from the deep south, but I was expecting Jeff Foxworthy, The Cable Guy and the NRA to come out of the woods. I was thinking this could be an interesting show. The festival people showed us to our green room, which was an entire mobile home backstage, which may I add is much nicer than the public bathroom of some of the nicest hotels in major cities, so I was like, “OK this can’t be too bad”. The lineup was posted at the door. We were to open up for the main act . When I looked at the roster I saw the headliner was Vince Gill. I was like, “Oh my God, we’re opening for Vince Gill!!” We all got to meet him backstage and he took pictures with us. It was an awesome surprise!

LAUREN: Your song 'Shape This Love’ is receiving a positive listener response on radio. What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: It’s a dream come true. As an artist, my goal is to create music and be as authentic as I can be. My songs are my children. As a songwriter, you give birth to them. You breathe life into them. And of course you think your baby is more beautiful than anyone else’s. LOL. It’s the most exciting part of it all for me personally, to hear a simple melody in my head, possibly a passing inspiration as I drive in the car or take a shower or a melody I wake up and remember from a dream. To watch that simple melody, come to life with lyric and instrumentation in a song, it is magical. And for other people to appreciate it and like what you are doing, well that is just icing on the cake. It’s an incredible feeling.

LAUREN: What was the inspiration behind your debut radio single?
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: We all live, learn, and become less naïve. Music is my therapy, so I write songs about that: lessons learned. I used to believe in fairy tale love stories and that love conquered all. Life has taught me that love and life are so much more complex than that. Love is a verb, not some inevitable force that was destined and I had no control over. This song is about my younger more naïve self, finding myself in love with an older unavailable man and the moment when I realized that true love is something far greater than a longing. Sometimes Love is walking away.

LAUREN: It is often said that great art arises from difficult experience. Is there something in your life experience thus far that you would describe as the ‘catalyst’ or ‘fuel’ for your desire to create music?
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: Everyone has a story. My first story began growing up. My parents divorced when I was eight years old and feuded for me in a nasty custody battle. My sister was fourteen years old at the time. My parents were so involved with their anger towards one another, my sister and I became more tools of revenge. My sister became pregnant at the age of fourteen, became and emancipated minor and moved out. My dad gained custody of me, but then went through back surgery which left him pretty incapacitated and unable to care for a child on his own, but he refused to let me mother care for me. I remember waking up one morning to a cold, empty, stale house and just felt so alone and heartbroken. How could I have a family one day and the next everyone be living in different places. It was my first experience of heartbreak. Music became my therapy.

LAUREN: How would you characterize yourself as an artist/musician? (Ex. Down-to-earth, serious, fun-loving, complicated…)
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: All of the above. A mezcla. As an artist, the best word I can use to define myself is authentic. I make music believing that I am simply a medium for God’s work to be expressed. I am an expression of humanity. I’m a spiritual being having a human experience and what comes out is the blessing of it all; the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the magnificent!

 

LAUREN: What has your experience been like working with the other people on your team?
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: I work with a variety of musicians. I’m so grateful that I’ve had the privilege and the experience of working with some of the greatest musicians around. You can learn so much from others and especially veterans of the music scene. It keeps me humbled.

LAUREN: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: There have been musicians in my family. On my Mom’s side we have had some Christian Gospel singers that gained some success. I have never met them, though, as they are distant cousins. My mother does play the piano and always played and sung Christian hymns as I was growing up. This was my first experience with music. My Mom always sang around the house. I would sit with her on the piano bench and play my own little melodies and sing along. At one point my grandparents gave us an organ. I began writing simple melodies and recording them on a tape player. That was how it all began. Then when I was sixteen years old, I decided to learn to play the acoustic guitar. My grandfather owned a Hummingbird acoustic guitar, once I started learning, he gifted it to me.

LAUREN: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist? What do you find most challenging?
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: The most challenging thing I find for an artist is that there is no mold for success. Ultimately success is defined on an individual basis. However, the ability to truly find the balance of living my true creative self-expression and having the financial security to back it up has proven challenging for me and for many other musicians as well. It has been years of living two parallel lives, sometimes three; a successful career making a good salary and then my music career, which personally has been working full time making part time money. There are ways to transition successfully merging those two into one, but for me it has been most challenging. It’s a constant hustle and a dedication to every last bit of your free time. You end up sacrificing a social life, just because there is no more time left at the end of the day. Eventually, you do have to make a choice. Life will lead you down two parallel roads, but eventually you will come to a fork and you must choose. Continue a completely filled life with no time for anything except work or music or accept that you must step outside of the moonlighting and have faith that this is what you are meant to do? You can’t just step out in faith blindly, though. You must first build the foundation. But once your foundation is complete, you have to step out courageously on the invisible bridge. You must choose the path of faith. It can be quite scary, but this path requires you to face your fears. Of course the most rewarding aspects of being an artist is simple. When you live your passion, your dream, it feeds your soul. Creative self-expression makes your soul sing. And that’s what we’re here for.

LAUREN: Who are your role models in music?
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: I try to learn something from everyone. I have a wide variety of influences from Ella Fitzgerald to Bette Midler to Sting. What really inspires me are the musicians who surround me. I learn from what they have done and basically ask as many questions as possible. From Jazz musicians to church musicians to corporate band players, session players, to teachers- those musicians who get out there everyday for the love of music and performing—those are the ones that truly inspire me and I consider my role models.

LAUREN: Describe your best or most memorable performance.
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: My most memorable performance was NYE playing the ball drop for the city of Montgomery Alabama. It was so cold that night and we were outside on the stage in the city square and we could only see a sea of people packed and packed and more packed. It was such an electric event. It was televised by the local news station, and we got to count down the ball drop. That was an amazing gig!

LAUREN: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: It sounds cliché but follow your heart. Learn to meditate, trust your instincts and pray for guidance. Moonlight until you build a solid foundation. Once you have done that, have faith that God will guide you in the right direction. There is no template, only God’s individual plan for you. If it is in your heart, God put that there. Trust that. Oh! AND PRACTICE!!!!

LAUREN: What's next for you as an artist? Is there a new single in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
KRISTEN HOPE JUSTICE: What’s next? A crowd-funded album of all my inspirational music. I’ve been the music director at Unity of Kennesaw for five years and had many requests for an album of the inspirational music I have written. I wrote Shape This Love as therapy. It was something I had to do for myself. Now I want to write for others. I want to write songs that make people feel empowered, joyful and uplifted I’m getting out of the way now and just letting what comes through, come through. I’m at a very joyful place in my life. I am very grateful for that. It’s not about therapy for me anymore. We are always evolving, forgiving, learning and healing. Writing is not about my own therapy anymore. I write to serve others.

LAUREN: I will be sure to check it out! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me about your music. Best of luck with your future endeavors!

http://www.kristenjustice.com

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