Nestled in a modest dressing room underneath the Vogue Theatre and dressed comfortably in jeans, sneakers and a striped Henley, Justin Nozuka relaxes and appears as calm as ever just before his headlining show in Vancouver. An odd air of peacefulness resonates around Nozuka as if his own tranquil presence infects everyone and everything in his proximity.
Not even the line of ladies (and a few gents) waiting patiently on the street outside could faze him. In fact when notified of this, he reacted without any hint of ego or arrogance, but instead felt honoured by the dedication of his fans. Who is this guy?
The soon to be twenty-two years old Justin Nozuka is a Canadian-raised singer, songwriter, and musician. Although his first album, Holly, was greeted with solid reviews, it would be a whole three years until the release of his sophomore album, You I Wind Land and Sea.
With many artists, a successful debut album would automatically mean immediate work on a follow-up to ride the momentum of the first. For Nozuka, the trends and imperatives that accompany the business side of the music industry is irrelevant.
“With the first album we rolled with the waves,” he says. “Opportunities opened up so we took them.”
Nozuka is in this purely for the music. His passion and distinctly carefree attitude most definitely translates in his writing. While some songwriters compose lyrics strictly from personal experience, Nozuka experiments with both true and made up narratives.
“These days I have really been writing from that storytelling place,” explains Nozuka. “I have this imagination and I create these ideas and scenarios in my mind…I dig into it and put emotion behind it. The emotions create the story.”
At this point Nozuka pauses and listens to the faint echoes of a sound check happening upstairs. He apologizes for being distracted, but also declares, “Wow they sound great!”
Coming from such an artistic and musical family (his brother is R&B singer, George), you have a pretty good idea where his creative talents stem from, but don’t expect to find a lot of sibling rivalry in this family. In regards to his influences growing up, Nozuka says, “I’ve been watching my brothers play music [all my life]. What they’re doing is playing with their hearts and playing with so much love and acceptance. That really inspires me.”
Not surprising Nozuka brings his own form of inspiration directly to the stage. When asked how he conveys the same energy from his album to live performances, he describes it as “surrendering to myself and my strong front. All I have left is my natural expression and I think people can feel the honesty. The power of the song lives through that performance.”
As stimulating as Nozuka’s stage persona is, the adoring screams from his fans can cause quite the stir.
“It’s great,” he laughs. “It’s awesome! I try not to step in the way of that.”
It is clear that Nozuka couldn’t care less about the supplementary aspects of fame and celebrity but marches to the beat of his own serene drum. He stays away from the negative spotlight by finding his own comfort zone.
“I don’t want to be in a negative place,” explains Nozuka. “The things that pull me there are things I don’t believe in and things that don’t make me feel right.”
Frankly, we all should strive a little harder for the ability to let the negative trickle off our shoulders like Nozuka does and live solely for the positives in life. This philosophy is just inspirational and like Justin Nozuka, is justincredible!