The best kind of people are the ones who can leap without much of a safety net. Those living with their parents until they have enough in the bank to finally “follow their dreams,” I roll my eyes because dreams don’t have price tags. You have one life and one life alone to make things happen, and after some time crunching numbers – Justin Baron realized that. He walked away from a pretty comfy job and on to his own path. Admirable to say the least, Baron is a man who knows what he wants whether it’s to create music or a girl who knows her way around a candy store. A comical relief this Monday morning, this back and forth with Justin made me smile and we can only hope it does the same for you.
Kendra: Taking a creative route when it comes to a career is not everyone’s first choice. Was it yours, or did you leave another job for the music?
Justin Baron: So…I used to be an accountant. Out of college, I started working for PricewaterhouseCoopers doing taxes. I had no fucking clue what I was doing but somehow people trusted me to handle their tax returns. I did so many things wrong, I’m still amazed I wasn’t fired. After that I started working at Live Nation settling shows. I was the dude backstage with a laptop and a checkbook writing Beyonce or Jay Z their million-dollar checks. But now I know all the tricks of the trade, so no one’s going to screw me over!
Kendra: You seemed to have chosen a good path because you’ve collaborated with Grammy and Oscar winners, Kanye West and John Legend. Which of those two awards would you want most on your mantle?
Justin: That’s a great question. I mean of course a little gold gramophone on my mantle would be amazing, but I’m hopelessly obsessed with movies and television. I’m that annoying guy who doesn’t actually watch something, I’m usually on IMDB seeing who’s in it, who produced it, how much it cost, anything interesting that happened behind the scenes, etc. So needless to say, an Oscar would be insane. But to bring things back to Earth, at this point, getting on a great Spotify playlist is reason enough celebrate for me.
Kendra: Backtracking a second, was John as cool, calm and collected as he appears?
Justin: He’s everything you want him to be – cool, introspective, passionate, funny. He was generous enough to come sing to sick kids for hours for a charity I help with called AllOneBlood (http://www.alloneblood.org/). He made sure every single person there got their selfies, sang his heart out, and stayed way longer than we expected. He’s annoyingly awesome.
Kendra: Now let’s talk about your music. When you were penning “Craving,” what were you eating a lot of?
Justin: I mean, that’s a normal thing, food cravings. I can answer you with 100% honesty by saying blue gummy sharks. They’re my obsession. If any girl shows up to a first date with blue gummy sharks in her hand, I swear to God I’d propose on the spot.
Kendra: Did you write and record “Craving” close to your debut single, “Girl With An Ego?”
Justin: So I wrote “Craving” almost a full year before I wrote “Girl With An Ego”. At the time, I was making WAY different music… I was basically a Michael Buble wannabe if he wore tighter suits, had a pompadour haircut, and made forgettable music. It was an interesting time to say the least. So “Craving” is special to me because it broke me out of that pure pop world and took things to a more rock/blues place. It kinda set the scene to evolve my sound and write the rest of my project.
Kendra: Speaking of, other than an out of control ego – what is the worst trait for someone to have?
Justin: I really can’t stand mean people. I think this counts as a personality flaw, but I need everyone to love me. So when I run into people who are SO far away from me on the spectrum, I just can’t relate at all and want nothing to do with them. I once had a date yell at a waiter for getting her order wrong. Like make-a-scene kind of yelling. She instantly became one of the ugliest people I’ve ever seen.
Kendra: Back to the music, with two singles…can we expect an EP or LP soon?
Justin: EP for sure! Though what’s crazy about music nowadays is now single-centric things have become. When I was younger, it was such a big moment when my dad would drive me to Sam Goody (R.I.P.) so I can go buy the latest Blur or Saves The Day LP. I would devour it, but that was the only way to consume music. Now that virtually every song in existence is available to stream instantly, that permanence and build-up is gone.
It’s really like how things have devolved in the dating world with Tinder or Bumble (have I mentioned I’m single?) When you can drown in options, you’re never as happy with your choice. We’ve become a culture of disposability, whether it’s a swipe left or listening to a new single for nine seconds and moving on. Bet you didn’t think my answer would go there, did you?
Kendra: Interesting point, and I NEED to recommend you read Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance if you haven’t already when it comes to too many options in the dating realm. Anyways, what about touring, are you getting some shows in this year?
Justin: So I’m playing this show at Mercury Lounge on 3/30 that I’m really pumped about. It’s easily my favorite venue in New York City (don’t tell the others). There are some other fun things in the works for later in the year, but I’m sworn to secrecy.
Kendra: Lastly, here at ZO we’re all about the arts. With that I wanted to ask you to either draw or submit a piece of art that you feel best represents your sound?
Justin: This was not easy, I’ll be honest. But I’m obsessed with Monet, I have a couple originals hanging in my studio actually. I stole them in a string of spectacular heists. You probably read about them in the news. I think this one encapsulates my sound fairly accurately.