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article imageJustin Utley talks 'Survivors,' Triad Theatre show, digital age Special

By Markos Papadatos     Aug 12, 2019 in Music
New York - Singer-songwriter Justin Utley chatted with Digital Journal about his new single "Survivors," as well as his upcoming show at The Triad Theatre in New York City. He also spoke about the impact of technology on the music business.
The song "Survivors" started off as an official entry into the "Eurovision Song Contest "in 2017. "Ylva & Linda, of Universal Music Sweden, contacted me about partnering up for the song. It did fairly well, and when the opportunity came to re-work it again, I started working with pop producer Taylor Hartley, who has worked with some great artists from American Idol," he said.
"It was a risk for me since normally I've produced the bulk of my own material. I've wanted to change direction and 'flavor' of my music, and start taking more risk outside my typical comfort zone of Americana Rock. With ending conversion therapy being at the forefront of my efforts and focus again, personally and politically, the song was brought to new heights as a pop single," he said.
Utley continued, "The plan was just to release the pop single and music video to it (the same version) but shortly after we finished recording the pop version, and had already begun working together on a full-length album, I sat down at the piano and started playing a piano version of the song, on the fly."
"Taylor really liked it, and instead of working on what we’d planned, we ended up reconstructing the entire song as an orchestral piece. It was breathtaking, and I decided to produce the music video to the song as the orchestra version, instead of the pop single version," he added.
On September 14, Utley will be playing at The Triad Theatre in New York City. "It is going to be an intense show. I previewed some of the new material in London last month, and took the time to give some background on each track, and had an opportunity to really interact with the audience and get their feedback. It was powerful and dynamic. So that’s what I’ll be delivering to my friends and fans in New York City," he said.
"It has been a while since I've done a full gig in Manhattan. It will be nice to get back into where my career really took shape and keep that part of my journey thriving there," he said.
To learn more about Utley and his upcoming show at The Triad Theatre in New York, or to obtain tickets, check out the venue's official website.
On his plans for the future, he said, "Taylor and I are already in talks about two additional projects, in addition to a potential one-(or two)-off singles. The collaboration I’ve been able to have with him is tremendous. It's freeing to be able to discover parts of the music sandbox I never thought I could play in."
"I am also finishing up a start-up resource for survivors of conversion therapy," he said. "It's something I realized is significantly lacking, especially with my time back in Utah."
"A lot of survivors are stuck in this void of where the therapy failed them, and not being able to really work through the trauma it caused, finding the healing and support needed to be able to get back into an existence free of fear and judgement, and in particular, being able to love and experience healthy relationships without going through the layers of mental gymnastics and justifications that were nearly cemented into the psyche through the various forms of conversion therapy," he said.
"It's one thing (and definitely a necessity) to end the psychologically and spiritually abusive practice. It's another to be able to offer help to the nearly 700,000 people (half of them adolescents) who are survivors of the practice and give them the love, support, and tools they may need to move forward in life," he said.
Utley shared that his music is inspired by love, pain, and emotions. "Life, essentially, and my own experiences, primarily. Usually what I'm feeling or passionate about works its way into a lyric and melodic hook, and branches out from there," he said.
Digital transformation of the music business
On the impact of technology and streaming have changed the music business, Utley said, "Its certainly opened many doors for me, to get my music and message into places I’d likely not have been able to otherwise; however, since its technically still the digital wild west when it comes to royalties (a stream pays a fraction of a penny in some cases vs an actual radio spin)."
"This is sometimes why we see retired bands out on tour again. In some cases, royalties have gone from being a bread and butter ongoing paycheck from radio play to a leaky faucet trickle of revenue due to a large demographic switching over to streaming digital services," he elaborated.
"I've always been one to feel more engaged and alive when I’m able to take the creations from the studio to the stage though. They’re just as much performances pieces as they are playlist favorites," he added.
On his use of technology in his daily routine as an artist, he said, "There are a few apps I use on the fly, which have been awesome. I remember using a digital 'tape' recorder to lay down ideas when I was on the road. I'd listen back later and think 'was I high? What the hell was that'."
"Now there are some great apps I use that take previous recordings I have, in the cloud, and give me the ability to sing, hum, or whatever, layering over them a few times. Makes the idea of building much more efficient and effective," he said.
He listed Frank Turner, Roland Orzabal, Cyndi Lauper and Melissa Etheridge as his dream collaboration choices in music.
For his fans, he concluded about "Survivors," "If you can't always see the silver lining, you can always make one."
To learn more about Justin Utley and his music, check out his official website.
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