Interview: Justin Symbol

NYC Shock Rapper/Artist, Justin Symbol, is an enigma that is difficult to find out which is exactly the way that he likes being presented to the world. I caught up with Justin to discuss ‘Symbol Season Mixtape, Vol. 1’, the importance of practicing self care, upcoming mini tour, “Star Daddy” and more.

Congrats on the release of ‘Symbol Season Mixtape, Vol. 1’. Tell us about the creative and recording process and what you learned along the way.

With ‘Symbol Season’ I embraced my hip hop alter ego “Star Daddy”. It was about letting go of preconceptions and just having fun! I learned to trust my producer and do things I was afraid to do. One of these moments resulted in the most well known song, “Goldi”.

If you could sit down with your younger self and give him one small dose of advice, what would you say to him?

Practice self care and connect with others. Life doesn’t have to be a lonely race to the top of the trash heap of our society. Success means nothing if you’re not present and open to being able to enjoy it.

Showcasing the human in you, what is a challenging thought that you recently had and were able to overcome over time?

Every day is that struggle. The voice in my head saying “You’re nothing. Die.” I’ve wanted to give in to that, but then I keep fighting. I had some people close to me die lately and it became an affirmation of life. Like, these people believed in me. They gave into that voice, but I can be the example to others that they don’t have to! There is an amazing world out there if you’re open to seeing it.

What is your perception on the digital world that we live in and social media culture?

I think it obviously has the potential to be quite toxic but it’s also got great possibilities. Some real confidence and empowerment has blossomed. Also you have a lot of divisive “movements” which I question if they are even real or a scheme to tear people apart. All this stuff pitting us against each other, it’s not even worth focusing on. I can only do so much before I tune out. I always try to remember that perception is reality. Nothing can replace a real one on one human connection.

No career path or amount of followers negates the fact that you are a human being that has feelings. Tell us about some parts of you beyond being a musician that you take pride in.

I have 5 years sober and have been privileged to maybe lead others toward that life style or at least show them that you can be sober and not super boring! I am also proud of my sexuality, and it seems to empower other people. I don’t put labels on myself but I exist outside the mainstream and I know that it can become a beacon to others who feel the same way. Life is too short to live in shame. I often forget how many people still do!

Photo Credit: Kamollio

As you are exposed to tons of stimulus, how do you proactively take care of your mental and emotional health when you’re out on the road?

I need to do way better in this area. For me, tour becomes this high that then saps my endorphins and I can become quite negative afterwards. I need to be better about making meetings, praying and meditating on the road. Exercise helps too! Toxic people are the worst because they can really drag you down and isolate you. Getting rid of those from my band was a big step in the right direction!

Reflect back to day one in the studio for ‘Symbol Season Mixtape, Vol. 1’, would you have thought that the mixtape would have turned out the way it did?

I didn’t really know what to think. We started with the song “Artistic Shit” and from the beginning I knew we were not going to create a record like anything I was previously known for. The goal was to be totally free and allow ourselves to be upbeat, fun and positive with the music. Sometimes things got very silly. I’ve never laughed so much while making an album! I never thought we’d get so productive that we’d end up having 21 songs!

Speaking of touring, any current or upcoming tour/show plans that you can fill us in about?

There will be a Justin Symbol West Coast mini tour in late Feb. I am bringing back the old school Justin Symbol vibe in a big way with a new live band of talented people. I’m very excited to reconnect with that part of myself, which I know the fans have been eager for.

Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?!

Stay tuned! 2019 will be a great year for Symbol!

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