Five Questions With Justin Maki

London, ON-based pop-easy-listening artist, Justin Maki unveiled his new single, “Different Kind of Love” on September 18, 2020, which is slated to appear on his upcoming debut album.

“Different Kind of Love” was very much created in, and inspired by quarantine and the coronavirus the perpetuated it. The song imagines a budding relationship that is rudely interrupted by the sudden and forced period of physical distance. It depicts a couple as they try to navigate dating in this new context, finding creative ways to develop a connection without access to the physical touch.

Check out the lyric video below and find out more about Justin via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

Justin Maki is a London, ON-based Pop/Easy-Listening artist, singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Justin is a thoughtful, yet scatter-brained, silly man with a Japanese upbringing. His music organically balances approximations to Allen Stone, Bruno Mars, and John Mayer, and his mission, ultimately, is to provide a joyful escape with and through his music.

Since officially committing to his solo career in 2012, Justin has played over 1,000 shows, released 2 EPs (“The Acoustic Diaries: Fight” and “Long Time Coming”), along with some singles, and has gone on 3 Cross Canada Tours, spanning Moncton to Regina. He has also competed in several competitions and won in Western University’s Battle of the Bands in 2015, as well as the campus-wide Western Voice competition in 2016. Justin has shared the (sometimes virtual) stage with industry heavy-weights like Monster Truck, The Sheepdogs, Neon Dreams, and Olivia Lunny. Finally, Justin has performed at such notable events and venues as Canadian Music Week (Toronto, 2010), Summer Sunset Sounds (Grand Bend, 2019), Peak To Shore (Collingwood, 2019), Ontario Contact (Saint Catherines, 2019), and Budweiser Brew Gardens (London, 2020).

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

I call my music Flirtatious Jazz Pop. I’ve dabbled in many different styles over the years – everything from country to classical, riff-rock to folk – but right now, at least for this next album phase, Flirtatious Jazz Pop feels like the right sonic space. This style takes underlying complexities inspired by R&B, Soul, Funk, and Jazz and presents it in a more widely accessible “Pop” packaging. As mentioned, it sits nicely between the music of Allen Stone, Bruno Mars, and John Mayer.

Typically, when I write music, I start with an idea or concept that I feel would make for an interesting song topic. My most recent writing is rooted in the philosophy of having something meaningful to say. All melodic, harmonic, arrangement and production choices cater to and serve the message of the song: in other words, I like to exercise prosody wherever possible.

I may have a chord progression or riff ready that I’ve been looking to use for some time, or I’ll take a moment to experiment on the guitar until I come up with something that sounds cool and fitting to the topic. I will establish a structure (typically the standard intro, verse, pre, chorus, verse, pre, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro) and attempt to finish the melody, lyrics, and guitar part to a point where I could perform it start to finish. I then run it by a few of my trusted producers for feedback and if we all love it, I head into the studio with one of them to flesh out a unique and catchy arrangement and production.

Less often, a melody and/or lyric idea will organically come to me and I will let the idea swirl around in my head until I have a section or perhaps an entire song that I can write a guitar part to. At other times, I will experiment in Logic X and come up with a full arrangement from which to write a topline. It really depends on the day and if I feel a wave of inspiration, I like to ride it and see where it goes.

Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

At present, I don’t have many live shows booked at venues, parties, events, or otherwise, mostly because of COVID-19, and the various restrictions that the government put in place in response. Before the first Canadian national lockdown in March, I had a string of club and festival dates booked through the spring and summer, but those inevitably got canceled. I also secured an opportunity to participate in the Via Rail Artist on Board Program in April, but unfortunately, I was recently informed that that program has been suspended until further notice. As of right now, I can say for certain that I am booked at the Red Lion Room in Stratford, ON on November 7th, 2020, and a few weddings in 2021. Despite the current obstacles, I am in the process of contacting venues within a 2.5-hour radius of London, ON to see if I can book any shows and I have also committed to doing weekly Twitch live streams with my band (The Justin Maki Band), so stay tuned!

I like to approach my shows with the audience and venue in mind, constructing an experience consisting of memorable and engaging moments that emotionally move an audience. Whether by myself or with my band, I stretch and shorten songs to include musical moments, introductory moments, humorous moments, touching moments, crowd participation moments, etc, always communicating with the audience to develop a personal relationship with as many individual people as possible. When by myself, I accomplish this with the use of different vocal and guitar techniques, my pedalboard, a selection of different instruments, and looping. The band brings a further elevated experience by incorporating a scripted storyline, more instruments, and sometimes improvised songwriting sessions in real-time.

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

“Different Kind of Love”

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

Dallas Green
Daniel Ceasar
Avril Lavigne

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