INTERVIEW: Justin Nozuka



Justin Nozuka


MY mind turns to an artist…


who has enjoyed a long and varied career (so far). Justin Nozuka reveals the influence behind his track, Warm Under the Light, and what we can expect from his E.P., Low Tide – Nozuka explains what it was like working with producer Chris Bond on the E.P.

I ask which musicians inspired his course into music; what it was like opening for the likes of Stevie Wonder; if the Toronto artist is going to come to the U.K. – he provides some useful advice for artists coming through right now.


Hi, Justin. How are you? How has your week been?

Hey. I’m well. It’s been a good week!

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

Sure. I’m a singer/songwriter based in Toronto, Canada. My sound, I would describe as a mix of Folk, Soul; R&B and Rock. I’m currently in the process of releasing new music - which I recorded the majority near Devon, England with the talented Chris Bond.  

Warm Under the Light is your new single. Can you reveal its story?

Warm Under the Light is a song I wrote for a neighbour who I would see often but never really speak to. I just found this particular person really attractive and wrote this song to express myself.

Warm Under the Light is from the E.P., Low Tide. What are the main themes and stories that inspired the music?

Low Tide consists of a song about daydreaming (Reverie). I was inspired by the word ‘reverie’ itself. It was relatable to me and felt I could write a good tune on the subject. The third is a song I wrote for an ex-partner/companion. The song wrote itself, really; just some of our memories bottled up in there with the truth that we weren’t meant to be together in the conventional (marriage) type of way.

Chris Bond produces. What was it like working with him in the studio?

Chris Bond is super-talented and a sweet man. It was comforting pursuing these recordings with someone I knew was capable of capturing the energy in a certain way.

A lot of trust and on-the-spot creativity.  

How do you think your music has developed since your 2007 debut, Holly?

A lot has changed and some has stayed the same. I think I’ve stretched out quite a bit over the past few album, post-Holly. I’ve just experimented a lot, creatively, which, I think, is really healthy. One thing that has stuck is pursuing live takes on the records. I think a strong live take captures something that can’t really be replicated through other approaches. There’s a natural breath and magic to it that I mostly prefer.


When did music enter your life? Which artists did you grow up around?

I got into music when I was about eleven or so I think. A friend of mine started singing and it made me want to join. I listened to a lot of Pop music that was big at the time (NSYNC, Backstreet Boys; Brian McKnight, Spice Girls etc.) and heavily got into Lauryn Hill, Boyz II Men and others. Eventually, I discovered Ben Harper; oldies like Joni Mitchell down the line, which was a big influence on me.

You have supported the likes of Mary J. Blige and Stevie Wonder! Did you learn a lot from them? How crazy is it to think you have shared the same stage?!

Pretty amazing feeling opening for some of these artists. Stevie Wonder is something I will never forget. The man just exudes so much love and warmth. He inspired me to drop my guard on stage and to be open and outward in sharing love and good energy with the audience.


I know you have a busy tour schedule coming up. Is the road somewhere you like being? Are you looking forward to coming to the U.K.?

I currently love being on the road. It’s where I want to be for a good while. I’ve spent the past few years working on recordings and being home - so I feel all this pent-up energy and just want to keep busy out here.

Super-excited to be back in the U.K. again, doing a more elaborate tour here. I did my first tour ever in the U.K. back in 2007, I believe. I have such fond memories of it. It was just me and an acoustic - and a tour manager by the name of Chas. We drove in a hybrid car…

It was a special tour for me.

What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

I look forward to putting out more new music and (to just) play a lot more. I’d like to start making headway on new songs and to (just) keep things rolling.

If you had to select three albums that stand out to you; which would they be and why?

Leif Vollebekk - Twin Solitude

Such a natural-sounding album…fantastic songwriting and delivery. My go-to and favourite album of 2017.

The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding

Amazing, driving energy. Love the energy on this album.

Nick Drake - Pink Moon

So comforting. Perfect for a rainy or quiet day.


Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

So many great moments…

Years ago, we were doing a gig in (I think) Lausanne, Switzerland. We drove through the night and I made a point that I wanted to be the navigator. We arrived as the sun came up on the top of a mountain. We couldn’t drive our van into the town of (Zurmat, I believe) and finally discovered I had entered the wrong hotel branch. It was a stressful night of driving and we all got into a big fight.

I was scared to let them know I put the wrong address in but, once I did, we all cried and hugged. Luckily, the actual hotel was only forty-five minutes away…we drove down the mountain to incredible sights and made our way to the festival to play that day.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Don’t make long-term commitments…take a lot of care with your sound and long-term vision and, also, with who you bring onto your team.


IN THIS PHOTO: Leif Vollebekk

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Leif Vollebekk, if you haven’t heard already. My younger bro Henry Nozuka is putting out some new music, which I think is really special.

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

I like to do stuff separate from music - biking, playing ice hockey; reading and playing chess. These things help keep me in a good spirit.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Leif Vollebekk - Elegy

Hope you enjoy!


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