Justin Charles kicks off new era with “Party Without Me”

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PC: Justin Charles

Recommended Tracks: “Party Without Me,” “We’re The Stars,” “Lotto”

Justin Charles isn’t your ordinary 19-year-old artist. The incredibly detail-oriented Saratoga, NY-based singer/songwriter has been releasing music for almost half his life and looks back at those early years of musical output with a sense of humor. “I released my first ‘song’ on iTunes when I was 10,” he said, air quoting ‘song’ with a smile. “That was a big thing in my elementary school because like… who does that… ever? Of course, I wanted to do it, and I love it, but it kind of happened in a natural way, and I’m grateful for that.”

The young singer went on to navigate his way through the hot social media platforms of the moment, such as Musical.ly and TikTok, which slowly helped grow his fanbase. Songs like “We’re The Stars” and “Lotto” are geared towards his fellow Gen-Z peers, and adequately reflect his myriad of influences. His new song, “Party Without Me,” is out now.

Saratoga, just shy of 200 miles north of NYC via the Sprain Brook Parkway, is most known for its popular thoroughbred racetrack but is a perfectly sustainable place for a working musician to make a living. Lively restaurants, bars, and coffee shops line the streets of the small yet comfortable city providing plentiful opportunities for the local music community to hone their craft. However, for an artist like Charles, his style of music is not typical for these spaces.

“In the area, it’s always felt like I’ve needed to build my own lane,” he said. “There really isn’t a place for the kind of music that I do, and there’s also not really a place for young artists. You just have to find the right people. Like… where do young people hangout? I’m mostly online, to be honest. I don’t go and do something week to week. I’m not the type of person to sing something that isn’t my style. I love pop music.”

 

Influenced by today’s heavy hitters in pop, songs like “M.I.A” and “3-2-1” experiment with sounds and styles similar to artists within the modern pop world such as Liam Payne and Coldplay. There is also a theatrical element to a song like “We’re The Stars” derived from Charles’ history with musical theatre and an early love of Glee, particularly their renditions of show tunes. “We’re The Stars” goes for the bombastic The Greatest Showman feel, showcasing Charles’ flair for the dramatic: “You make me feel like I’m walkin’ on clouds/ Like we’re the only ones in the crowd/ You make me feel like my life is a movie… and we’re the stars.”

New song “Party Without Me” is an accessible electro-pop song straight out of the early 2010s. Vocally, he sounds more mature than ever as he sings about refusing to succumb to the hurt and sadness of being excluded by his peers in a social situation: “So go on… party without me/ I don’t need the tears or the party balloons/ Go on, party without me/ I don’t need the fake friends, got nothin’ to prove.” He’s content with himself, and doesn’t claim to be or want to be part of the ‘in-crowd’ : “Who really needs it anyway though?/ Cool kids… I’ve never been, never been one of them.”

“Party Without Me” follows in the footsteps of other anti-party-themed tunes like “Here” by Alessia Cara, “Royals” by Lorde, and “I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber. Charles’ song is from the perspective of someone taking their power back after NOT being invited to the party, but is still inherently fun and relatable. “I think it’s maybe the idea of displacement,” he said, on why he thinks these songs are so beloved despite being a bit more pessimistic. “It’s like, ‘I’m kind of miserable here but everyone else is having a good time.’”

Building on an Idea 

“The music that isn’t out yet is very true to myself… it’s real life, things that have happened to me,” he said, on his next batch. “Before, I was definitely pulling from major influences, but I’ve kind of brought in my sound a little bit. I love The Carpenters, so trying to incorporate something like that… that’s retro and classy in a way and pulling from pop music now creates a super interesting sound that I’m really proud of.” When asked to elaborate on the execution of how he combines his modern electro-pop with the elegance of The Carpenters, he did not provide specific examples, more so focusing on the idea of molding these sounds together.

Long-term planning

To sustain his music career, on top of being a full-time student, Charles is focused on long-term planning and financial stability. “I do anything I can to support my music,” he said. “I believe in it so much, and I think of everything that I put into music as an investment. It’s a budget… it’s all allocated already. I’m a very business-oriented person. I make lots of spreadsheets… lots of PowerPoints. I just need to get the thoughts in my head out somewhere.”

He also created his own electronic press kit, or EPK… an essential tool for artists to assist with their relationship with press, potential management, etc. “I enjoy making all of that,” he said. “I take a lot of music marketing classes with Berklee online, so I know what to put on there… things that people are looking for.”

He talks about the release of his upcoming project, which currently does not have a release date, in the same fashion. “I want it to come out in the way that I picture it in my head,” he said. “I have a very specific vision for how I want the rollout to go artistically. The feel of it… the vibe of it. I want it to be a classic pop rollout. I feel like so many artists are lacking that. I feel like every release of mine should be a big, major moment. So that’s what I’m trying to do now.”

With no shortage of creativity and drive, Charles is well within reach of his most fruitful artistic period yet. Stream “Party Without Me” :

Follow Justin Charles on social media: Instagram // TikTok // Twitter // YouTube // Website 

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