The Moment I Knew I Wanted To Make Music: Free Under Fire

by - October 19, 2023

I grew up in a small town in an Eastern European country most people only know for vampires and high inflation. It was an upbringing not necessarily well suited to the hedonistic, self-driven rock lifestyle I would eventually pledge my livelihood to. None of the rest of my family played instruments, although a general interest in the arts runs in the family. I became interested in music to combat the largely pastoral, painfully mundane reality of my existence.

Such is the way with small town boys.

As puberty made its unwelcome advances, music became a tactic for survival. I, like many other musicians (and songwriters, in particular) have a largely melancholic disposition. That is to say – I have a tendency towards brooding, masochistic introspection. Songwriting is exactly that. Or, at least, it should aim to be. You write 100 songs, and out of those, maybe 10 are worth your consideration. Of those, two to three get introduced to the band, and a band is very often a marriage of (four, in our case) very different personalities. And “very different” is really a euphemism’s euphemism. I’m talking about four people whose general outlook could not be more different. Of those two to three songs you introduce, one may make the setlist for your next show.

You yearn for a 1% success rate.

I wish I was joking.

I write most of the songs in the band, and I write in a variety of genres, for lack of a better term for it. Genre is, ultimately, a dirty word, because all it is is a suggestion for how something should sound. Artificial sonic parameters. It is, more often than not, a long-established tradition rooted in aesthetics. And tastes change, or they can be combined, or, we would like to think, re-discovered in a new light; that proverbial envelope has a lot more depth beneath it than most people realize. You can push it, and, if you do it right, it can linger on the edge without tipping over.

Succeeding in the music industry is an uphill battle that Sisyphus would be envious of. Once you dedicate yourself to the pursuit, gone are the overarching dreams that spurred this little Romanian boy. You hope (and work meticulously) for little victories. The small wins, the meager gains.

You (yes, you) reading this right now is one of those wins I count among them.

Music is an end, not a means.

Within the confines of a 8-10 song album, there are no failures. Where persistence exists, all it leaves in its wake are opportunities for improvement and emotional moments cemented in time.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Thanks for coming to my TedTalk!

- Justin, Free Under Fire

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