Ah! Sweet music. We all know about the healing power of music. Its ability to evoke within us, feelings and memories that have defined or destroyed us. To make us reflect on love and love lost, happiness and positive vibes, to empower us or simply to get us up and dancing. A much needed distraction from this thing that we call life.
Justine Eltakchi, a Sydney based soul/pop singer/songwriter who has been in the music industry for almost 10 years. Releasing her music, collaborating with other artists, performing, writing for other artists and using her knowledge to help other independent artists release their music independently.
‘I grew up in a very musical family. My dad was a singer and guitarist, so we grew up with him rehearsing for gigs. And my brothers both play instruments, my twin brother plays guitar and my older brother plays piano,’ Justine said.
‘I just fell in love with singing and I became obsessed, that’s how I developed my skills. Because I became so obsessed with singing, I practiced every day and became self-taught.’
Justine has the impressive ability to write a song on a whim, taking her only five minutes to have a song written out on guitar or piano. Other times, like with the Happy Song, she had written half of three years ago.
Inspired by artists like John Legend, Missy Higgins, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and John Mayer and many other artists who are songwriters themselves.
‘Sometimes it starts with a riff or a musical idea, other times it might start with a vocal hook or a concept or lyrical idea,’ Justine said.
‘I have always written alone. I definitely need to be somewhere quite when I write my lyrics. I need to be alone and somewhere out of the way.’
Justine uses meditation to get in touch with the right side of her brain, the side responsible for imagination and emotions and tapping into that to find her creative flow, to inspire her words and her music and herself.
Her music looks very much at feelings, at the inner workings of human experience and interactions. There are also elements of nature within her work. But it is her pursuit of understanding people that makes her music so relatable and accessible.
‘It’s always feelings and emotions and experiences that are happening on the inside rather than what’s happening on the outside,’ Justine said.
‘I also tend to allude to nature a lot in my music, it’s always based around the seasons. I think the seasons really represent human emotions and internally that’s how we experience life.’
‘I always write about experiences relating to other people and understanding other people. The way I write really aligns with how I grow and mature both spiritually and emotionally.’
After the release of her first EP, Autumn Love, Justine took a break away from music, she got a normal job in marketing and events and for two years she was miserable and creatively she suffered and was unable to write.
Like all creatives, we know the importance of following your passion, of doing what you love no matter how that looks to other people. Just as long as you are doing what you love, you are content.
‘I tried to conform to societies expectations and during that time I was never able to write. I thought it would be easier than doing music, because the music industry is so hard, but it’s not. You have to be true to yourself,’ Justine said.
‘Music is literally therapy for me, it’s my way of dealing with everything and it’s like meditation, it’s about releasing, healing, reflecting. I just need to do it, to feel normal and to feel good.’
After quitting her job and coming back from a much needed hiatus, Justine set her mind on doing what she loves and with that change in mindset, so many new opportunities opened up for her.
One of these opportunities was her collaboration with her twin brother, in 2013 under the name White Light Orchestra. They released an EP together which was recording in their studio, up in the Blue Mountains.
‘It was good. It took my music from being skeletons to being given life again. My brother put all of his knowledge and produced the songs and did all of the arrangements,’ Justine said.
‘It was all self-funded and very independent and we brought all these musicians that we know to get in on the tracks. My brother organised and I produced and directed the video for the Happy Song.’
Justine has been involved in a number of collaborations as a featured artist. She has collaborated with the likes of Alpha Savage, Luke Antony, Edea and others.
‘I feel Sydney is kind of lacking that [collaborative] space at the moment. There needs to be some kind of community that grows together, that helps each other, that’s very supportive of each other. I want to help create that space,’ Justine said.
It is this lack of platform where creative artists and musicians, can come together and feel connected and inspired by each other and supported that inspired Justine to start Velvet Crush Artist Services and begin writing a book titled, ‘A practical guide to releasing music independently.’
‘Velvet Crush helps independent artist release their music independently. My brother takes care of the studio and the recording side of things,’ Justine said.
‘I take care of the release services, music marketing and PR, press campaign, getting all their music together and sorted so the artists know what they are doing.’
The book, ‘A practical guide to releasing music independently,’ works with what she is doing with Velvet Crush. A side project that Justine believes would benefit anyone wanting to get into the music industry, using her 10 years of experience and knowledge.
‘It took me forever to figure it out because I never had a guide. I wanted to create a book for people who are good artists and songwriters, who don’t know where to start,’ Justine said.
‘This [book] basically shows them everything that they need to know. It’s in the real practical sense, it’s not too detailed where readers will just go, oh my god, I can’t understand this, or it’s too long.’
Being in an industry that is all about image and how that is received by the public, it not always positive. Criticism targeting the individual can have debilitating effects on creativity.
Justine struggled with that early in her career. Wondering if she was good enough or slim enough or her image in regards to her brand and how that was received by the public.
‘To be authentic, you just need to be true to yourself and when you are true to yourself, than you’re loving yourself and respecting yourself and taking care of yourself. If you are authentic than you shouldn’t worry,’ Justine said.
‘If you worry too much, it takes away your ability to create and be innovative. You need to find yourself and you’ll more than likely be unique.’
Justine has a creative year ahead of her, she has started the media campaign for LX Lawless, getting her music out there who is tied to Velvet Crush. There are also a couple of releases for other artists also coming up.
Justine hopes to release a soul/pop EP, and hopes to collaborate more with other artist. She is now in the final stages of editing her book which is also scheduled to be released within the coming months. You can also catch Justine playing gigs right around Sydney.