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Grounded Intuition: Justin Michael Williams discusses inspiration and purpose.

Brekfast got the opportunity to sit down with Justin Michael Williams, a California based musician. Justin chatted with me right after a recent visit to Cincinnati, Ohio in which he was studying tarot cards. Check out our conversation as we discussed inspiration, spirituality and upcoming shows. 

California boy to the core

When I think of California, I think sunshine and open-toed shoes, but Justin shared much more about the challenges and beauty of his community. It was interesting to learn much more about California and how Justin’s upbringing has influenced his music. “I’m from a town called Pittsburg, California. It’s near Oakland. Some people would call it the hood. It’s a low-income area. I didn’t feel like we were poor, but we were definitely one paycheck away. My town was very diverse. It’s one of the top towns for diversity in the US. I always thought that the world was like this, but it’s not. I think that people are always really surprised. My community was so diverse. I speak Spanish. I’m doing a charity event for families on the border and I know this from growing up. I did listen to music in different languages. My style can be very relatable to various audiences. Many people will listen and hear different influences.”

Justin’s eclectic taste is noted within his music which is a myriad of pop, R&B and alternative sounds. Justin noted, “I grew up listening to everything. I love the 90s everything. Everything from Tupac, Nsync, to Alanis Morissette. I love growing up and thinking about pop and soul.” This inspiration is showcased in the distinct melodies and emotive delivery of songs such as “Here With Me.” 

Approach to songwriting

Justin shed light on his approach to music composition, which is quite organic. He shares

“Every song just starts with piano and voice. I love electronic music and the production value. I think if you have a good song with the piano, you will great songs with electronic music. When I started writing, I thought everything would be motivational and inspirational. That is my vibe.”

However, when Justin discussed his prior projects, such as with Metamorphosis, he shares his ability to uncover wounds. “…… I started going into a dark space. I started reflecting my childhood. It was my first outlet to give voice to my own struggle. Every song on my album is me releasing things that held me back from becoming my true self. Addiction…domestic violence..”

When song to note, is Broken Mirrors which explores internal conflicts related to insecurities. Justin added, “Broken Mirrors is my favorite song on the album. Still today. My greatest struggle is with self-confidence and being fully authentic with how I look and who I am.  How I can be fully me. And worthy and enough. Broken mirrors come very specifically from two words I wrote down. Body prisoner were the two words. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a prison. Sometimes you don’t know what people sacrificed to get that. I could never feel satisfied with how I look. We think we’re too fat, too old, too gay, or too that. Hopefully one day you can see how powerful and incredible you really are. The topic is widely discussed among women, but not among men. It is really hard within the Gay community, especially in LA. People use to use Facetune. I helped come up with the treatment with the video. I think of concepts and I’m already thinking of all that stuff. I’ve been the director for all of my videos with assistant directors. What I want to do as an artist is tell stories. The visuals are the way to do that most effectively. The next video is for a song called, “Perfect Man.”

Trusting the process 

Not only did Justin share his songwriting process, but his general approach on project completion. He states “ I use structure in order to allow myself more freedom. Okay, from 11-2 o’clock, no calls. That’s my time for just writing. Actual writing doesn’t matter. Just giving myself that structure to do it. Letting go of the result is very important. If you say you want to write a pop song. It’s going to be forced. What wants to come up? Don’t be attached to structure? (fast, slow). I have one thing every day that I must get done. Today, I have a new music video concept and I said that I want to call that one person.”

Centering  his intuition 

As mentioned prior, Justin noted earlier that he has taken on the practice of reading tarot cards. He mentions, “it’s so random because I never, ever thought that I would be interested in doing that. There is a person, named Brenda Villa who is a well-known tarot card reader. I originally met her through a friend and she sent me the cards as a gift. I couldn’t put them down and took them everywhere. I didn’t know how to use them at first. After a while, I wanted to know more so went to the class in Cincinnati to learn more. When I took the class, it felt like I have been doing cards for a hundred years. I was giving readings and people were crying. I have always felt that I was a super intuitive person. My grandmother was always like a psychic person and I have always felt intuitive and the tarot cards actually grounded this ability.”

This spirituality and intuition connects with his artistry as well. When asked how they connect, Justin ecstatically shares “My god. They connect so much. All of my concepts come to me from meditation. I think that becoming the highest and most connected version of ourselves is the purpose. We want the core essence. Our true purpose of what we are supposed to do. It opens up a floodgate when you are in a place of total alignment. Spirituality creates that alignment. You can have a bunch of ideas, but which ideas will allow you to be on your true path. Your soul and spirit. When you are aligned. The creative ideas flow and you remove the stressors.”

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The therapeutic nature of art

Justin has shared that he has had so much personal release from his music. He states “creating my art has given me a sense of healing that I couldn’t even imagine. I wasn’t abused, but mother was. It opened up a conversation with my mother and it was insane. There was so much healing. There is a difference between writing for your own healing and writing for public consumption. I’m writing this for me and if people don’t hear it, it’s okay. If you do it to heal that doesn’t always lead to the most interesting play, but it may have a large revelation for one’s self.”

Passion for community building 

One thing that was present throughout the interview with Justin is a passion for serving marginalized communities through his music. Justin went on to share his mission. “My mission is to be a motivational voice for marginalized people. I’m gay, black and an independent artist who grew up in the hood. I can check all the boxes. Music often represents what is happening in the world. I have always thought it is was interesting how Gay Black men have pioneered the industry. However, we are getting written out of the narrative. Even gay men who are artists are singing about women. I want to sing my truth. That’s what I’m here to do I’m trying to use my voice politically to bring voices together.. I have been given a platform and I need to serve to give my people a platform.”

Formula for success 

At Brekfast, we like to hear everyone’s recipe. Justin was no different. He shared “First, Let go of what you thought it was supposed to look like. I remember when I let that image go of what I thought success was supposed to be. I was able to receive what was for me. The shift from thinking from how can I get ahead to honestly how can I be of service? How can I use my gift, my talents, to be a vessel? Let go of me getting ahead and think how can I serve? This has led me down a path that has been far more gratifying than I would have ever imagined.”Excellent words, for a beautiful artist and person.

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