New Artist JUJ Calls For Change in an Empowering EP Album
Rising pop artist JUJ is ready to take the younger generation by storm. The Philadelphia native—now living in Los Angeles—sings to kids with a hunger to change the world, using her passionate vocals (reminiscent of Lady Gaga) to move audiences. Despite her young age, JUJ has stories to tell, including the moment she left her hometown on her own to pursue music in L.A., her battle with Lymes Disease, and her mother’s journey as a Brazilian immigrant. With a mix of heart-wrenching ballads and upbeat tunes that reflect the “swag and strength of the city [she] grew up in,” JUJ successfully promotes an empowering message no matter what style of music she sings. Get to know the singer below as she discusses the recent release of her EP JUJ, It’s U.
How would you describe your sound?
I’d say my biggest musical influences are Lady Gaga and Jon Bellion, each for different reasons. I strive to make music that encourages my restless generation to fight for what is right in the world. I try to sing with the vocal passion of Lady Gaga, lead with the force of Demi Lovato, and write with the youthful perspective of Khalid. I create my music for kids from the projects to the suburbs who feel trapped in their city and long to make a change in the world. My debut EP, JUJ, It’s U, bounces with east coast melodies and sounds that reflect Jon Bellion and the swag and strength of the city I grew up in.
How did you come up with the title for the EP?
The title is JUJ, It's U because the EP is centered around self-reflection, discovery, and maintenance of strength. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art that teaches self-awareness, confidence, and the principle that one must face the bad to get to the good. Being a child from a Brazilian immigrant mother, I was raised by tough people. That being said, I learned to fight for what is right and advocate for myself at whatever cost. While subtle, you may notice how the artwork for each song mirrors this focus on self-realization.
What was the production process like? What did it teach you about yourself?
Writing a whole record, not just a single, to share my journey and inspire a young audience has been really special. I’ve learned so much and have grown immensely during this process. The most important thing I learned was that there is still so much more knowledge I can gain. In addition, I found that I have so much more that I want to say as both an artist and a person. I grew immensely as an artist as I made this record; more importantly, I grew as an individual during this experience. I set out to tell listeners the story of my shortcomings and triumphs. As a young girl and growing artist, I moved to a place not knowing what it could hold. I took this leap because I love music and believed in myself. I have now fully immersed myself in music, and I am eager to create more. This process has left me with a desire to grow artistically, a hunger to gain more learning experiences, and an ambition to constantly challenge myself as an artist.
Where/who did you draw inspiration from for the first single you released from the EP, “Mood?”
Moving to California at age 17 wasn’t an easy decision; my small suburb of Philadelphia is known for going to school, getting your degree, and settling down. There were countless times that friends, family, and even strangers would tell me I was making a huge mistake. Yet, their voices never managed to break my spirits or “kill my mood.” Instead, “leaving was just the beginning” and empowered me to persevere. My confidence to move across the country and pursue my lifelong passion was driven by my motivation and fueled by the loving support of my parents. My mother, a Brazilian immigrant who moved to the USA with little more than a suitcase, trusted me in taking a leap despite the risks, much like she did. “Mood” embodies my ability to overcome those who doubted me and defy what they expected.
Which is your favorite track on the album and why?
My favorite track on the album is “Hollywood.” Most songs about Hollywood idolize it, but I like to think there are many people living in this amazing place who have faced bumps in the road and have gone through phases of becoming disillusioned. When I moved to California, I was making significant strides that made me feel as if I was proving myself to everyone who said I couldn't. Then, two months in, when everything was falling into place, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and became incredibly ill. Being a minor, I was forced to return to the East Coast to receive treatment alongside my family. My dreams had shattered right in front of me. I had doubts. I wondered if everyone was right and if this was just a huge sign. In Hollywood, the first line of the chorus goes from, “I thought that this would be my home” to “I knew that this would be my home.” L.A. can chew you up and spit you out if you let it, and that’s not what I was about to let happen. After finishing treatment, I returned to L.A. and persisted. I feel like this song is extremely relatable to all of the aspiring young women and men living in such a cutthroat city and discusses the trials and tribulations they may face.
What was the greatest challenge you encountered in producing the album?
The greatest challenge I encountered producing this album was making sure I expressed my story as accurately and truthfully as possible. I knew I had more to say as a debut artist than just another breakup song. I challenged myself to ensure that I was telling my story making music that was authentic. Once I did that, I felt a strong response from everyone else. There’s something to be said about being true to yourself.
What has the response been like from your fans and supporters?
The response to the first song was especially overwhelming. “Mood” hit 100,000 streams within a week. As a new artist, that has been incredibly motivating and meaningful. The messages I’ve received from people who’ve said this is “the song they’ve been needing” or that they’ve been inspired to pursue their true passion because of me has meant the world. Growing up, all I’ve wanted is to be a role model for the younger generation. I’ve been an older sister to a younger brother and sister, and one of my favorite things in life is to be able to be a mentor to them. Being able to reach people through my music is unexplainable.
What can people expect from you in the future?
People can expect a lot more music, as I have a lot more to say! People can also expect some familiar faces on some of my music in the near future! I am so excited for what’s to come in the next six months, and I can’t wait to share it with y'all.