Welcome to Sui Generis!
Nikke Stiletto: So! Justin Cross! I thought your song was pretty amazing! I listened to it and thought it was pretty dope and refreshing!
Justin Cross: [Laughter] Much appreciation.
NS: And I noticed on your Facebook page that you are the “Chief Executive Guitar Slayer”! [Laugher]
JC: [Laughter] Indeed. I’m known to lay down a lick or two!
NS: When did you learn to play the guitar? Were you self-taught or did you have formal training?
JC: Yeah I’m not hanging with you Berklee grads! I know you and Watt are serious business. The first time I picked up a guitar I was a young teen…and I wrote a song and it was pretty horrible but I was convinced it was awesome and I just rocked it out. I was pretty stoked about it!
NS: I mean hey, as long as you liked it right? You have to like your own work first, right? [Laughter]
JC: [Laughter] True that!
I was 16 when I first picked up a guitar. I actually started on bass and that was the first instrument I played for about four or five years, but I realized there was more flexibility with the guitar because you can create more rhythms and a more broad sound so I used guitar mainly for songwriting and still do to this day.
NS: And that leads me to my next question! I was just about to ask you if you write your own songs! Do you have people who collaborate with when you write?
JC: Sure yeah! I guess its kind of what makes the music a little bit different from all the rest of the indie electronic type of music (the music is in the indie electronica genre). And I think the core difference, if you will, of how I arrive upon the final songs is that I kind of demand that I put the pressure on myself to make the songs sound structurally on their own. So I make sure you can perform those songs individually on their own and have them stand up on their own instead of having the electronics being the main driver behind the relevance of each song. So yeah I do write everything on acoustic guitar by itself and then I go from there, adding the electronic components.
It’s a team effort, at times as far as the production because I work with different people on the actual production itself.
NS: How long have you been working with Brady Watt?
JC: Probably dating back almost a year now. We’ve been working together and we had the good fortune [to work together] again. My manager Kyle basically was like look I have these guys I want you to meet, they’re form my old stomping grounds in NorthEast. They’re on the come up and are people you’ll want to work with on your new project. And we hit it off right away, flew him down to Charlotte, NC; gave Brady a break from the cold in New York and we just tore it up! Watt’s a beast!
NS: How would you describe success as far as your music is concerned?
JC: The main thing is just making music that connects with other people. A lot of artists are very concerned with just getting their own personal point across. I believe that’s important, just as in every conversation, you want to make sure that you are somebody that people want to converse with and I like the challenge of trying to communicate a song that gets across a specific message that other people can be influenced by or inspired by.
NS: That’s good to hear you say that because for a lot of people it’s all about the money, you know?
NS: So you recently performed with thefacesblur and crowdsource. Was this your first live performance or one of many?
JC: Right now the shows have been few and far between because I’m trying to really refine everything so we get it nice and tight, but for 2014 is gonna be a very exciting time and we’re going to be touring all over the place.
NS: What’s your favorite part about performing live?
JC: I absolutely love seeing people’s faces have joy and being able to communicate the music and everybody’s havng a good time. Knowing that I’m creating a good time for at least the fans; seeing that one person that knows all the lyrics and just being able to connect…to me, that’s dope!
NS: I personally have a bit of stage fright, so I’d probably be like Rabbit on the 8th Mile straight choking [Laughter]
NS: Now, I really like your “Let Me In” track…but I have to say I LOVE the Amplicity remix. That was so DOPE! How did that version come about?
JC: Yeah he threw it down! Kyle, my manager is an insane artist and just an insane dude. He’s got a knack and ear for all things creative space. He had a friend (Amplicity) out in LA who does insane work with this type of music and this type of space and he just kind of gave me this look like, “I think he might react to this particular song”, the lyrics and the vibe of it…
He placed that track and 2 weeks later, Amplicity dug it so much, he turned that song around and we were bumpin it like this is hot. We have to actually toss this on the EP.
NS: Yeah that’s definitely a winner…
So had a release party for “Let Me In”, right?
JC: Yeah and I’m really stoked!
NS: Tell me what your fans can expect at one of your release parties?
JC: You have months of hype because, you know, the Charlotte scene is definitely coming up and we’re blessed to be part of the track that s bumpin on that. So we want to represent when we go out there and make people proud so everyone [can expect] to have a good time, that’s for sure!
And we do a good job of putting together a genre-specific showcase. It [consists] of several quasi-solo acts, if you will. It’s several acts that also have electronica vibe so its gonna be one of those shows where it’s very contemporary, very slick music so I’m definitely glad to be a part of it.
NS: That’s cool!!
So are you currently signed to Arrive Records?
JC: Right now Arrive Records is a company we were originally going to launch simultaneously, but right now I’m an indie artists and I’m unsigned. I guess I would say I’m signed in my mind! [Laughter]
JC: That’s what I say to myself because right now its important to focus on the music and making great records.
NS: Ok, and I see you describe Arrive Records as the “Illuminati-friendly label”. [Laughter]
JC: Yeah [Laughter] actually Kyle wrote that. We were bumpin a couple of jams and he said you gotta throw that in there and I was laughing and I may or may not have been high at the time [Laughter]…
NS: [Laughter] OK!
I wanted to touch on a comment you made about the music scene being on the rise in Charlotte. I’ve heard other people in the Charlotte area say that the music scene is kind of dead. What are your thoughts on how the music scene is evolving in Charlotte?
JC: You know the saying that “The glass is half full”…so it goes like this. Number one, the Charlotte scene has nowhere to go but up because its pretty beat up. And when I say beat up, i mean it’s not Atlanta. And the good news is its got a lot of stimulation. Theres so many people moving here and there’s the sheer demand for more creativity and more space for that, s its just based on the numbers and it will continue to grow. but we definitely have a way to go…
NS: Well we can see that Justin Cross is a part of that come up! Where can your fans find you on social media?
JC: I appreciate that! I’m definitely looking to build my extended family online so hit me up on justincross.com and I’d love to connect with [the fans] . Or hit me up on social media. I’m thankful to have met you and thankful that you had me on your program Nikke!
NS: No problem! I’m here for the independent artists!
**This interview is brought to you courtesy of Nikke Stiletto, LLC and is for entertainment purposes only.