We recently had the chance to speak with Justs from Latvia, who will represent the country with the song “Heartbeat” in Stockholm. Here’s what he had to say:
Can you tell us a little about your career so far?
I started my musical career on age 6. I’ve been singing at Riga Dome Choir School. I’ve learned there music theory, piano, performing arts, jazz theory, improvisation and ensemble (combo), which significantly affected the further life path.
Then I’ve been singing and playing on the streets of Riga when i was 16. Shortly after that I found my first band called TaxFree. There we all were in my age, starting something new. First songs, first concerts, first fails and first victories associate with that time. Few years later one popular band in Latvia called GACHO noticed me and I started to do shows with them too. I got known with Bigger stages, management, fan base etc. Biggest shows we had was on main stage of Latvian festivals like SUMMERSOUND, HOLI and our own concert in PALLADIUM concert venue. But in this project I wasn’t in the main role, so I continue to work with my vocal and looking around for opportunities. And now I am presenting my first single at Supernova 2016 for Eurovision 2016 national selection. They asked me to join their band as one of the vocals and I did. I started to absorb experience when it comes to bigger stages
But I’m always open for more opportunities.
Who are your musical influences?
It all started with classical rock when I was 10 years old – AC/DC, Metallica, Guns and Roses and such. When I was 14, different solo artists came along, such as: Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Sting, Bryan Adams, Stevie Wonder.
At the age of 16 I started learning Jazz and was influenced by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Jerreau, Jamie Cullum and Amy Winehouse. At the age of 17, I started a band and we learned from artists like RHCP, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Muse, and at 18 we started to look at HipHop — Eminem , The Notorious, BIG, Jay Z, Kendric Lamar, and lately I have been listening to the Neighborhood, Glass Animals, Selah Sue, Jessy J, Ed Sheeran and other mainstream artists.
What made you want to enter Eurovision?
It was challenge and desire to be evaluated. That’s what made me signed up.
How did the collaboration with Aminata come about?
She just came up with idea to make this song for me and we started this collaboration.
How did you celebrate following your victory at Supernova?
Just drunk few whisky glass with my team and friends, and went home, because I was really tired and next day I had a photoshoot.
Following Aminata’s high placing in 2015, do you feel pressured to repeat / better her result?
I dont feel any pressure related with Aminata’s placing last year. I just do what I like the most, and it is music.
Heartbeat has received a lot of positive attention, and is currently one of the favourites to win this year’s contest. Do you pay attention to opinions online and in the press?
Of course I pay attention to what people think about my music and i am very happy to have so many positive opinions. right now I am working hard so i could faster give them next story of my music.
What do your family and friends make of you representing Latvia? Will they be joining you in Stockholm?
They just give me the biggest support and some of them will join me in Stockholm.
Have you listened to any of the competition?
Actually I have not. I had a very busy time because I had to send large application to red bull music academy and I am working to new songs, but I will.
Do you have any Eurovision memories / favourite songs from over the years?
When I was very young I remember all family watching this show and that was in the year that Latvia won. And everyone was jumping a round our flat and cheering. It was very positive and happy moment. I hope that some day, maybe very soon, i could bring this joy and happiness back to them
Thank you to Justs for taking the time to chat with us! He will perform in the 2nd semi-final on 12th May. Listen to his entry “Heartbeat” below: