Up and coming teen singer, Justine Dorsey, has already accomplished a lot in a short amount of time.
The emotional song writer has been acting for years and even had a role on the television show Brothers and Sisters.
She started singing at age five and learned guitar by the time she was thirteen.
She is a two-time 2012 LA Music Awards Nominee for Best Female Singer/Songwriter and Hot Contemporary Single and was a semi-finalist in 2012’s Unsigned Music Competition which was judged by songwriters including Kelly Clarkson and Cyndi Lauper.
In October Dorsey released her Under Construction EP, which features the title track and “Unsaid”, which has been featured in the MTV series Big Tips Texas and is a song about unexpected human connection.
On Monday Dorsey took some time out from shopping at the campus bookstore to talk about the EP and her future plans.
Q: You are out in California so you haven’t had to deal with the crazy weather the rest of the country has been getting?
Justine: No! I feel like all over the world every one is like, oh my god, and we’re just here chilling. I think I take that for granted sometimes.
Q: What can you tell us about working on your EP?
Justine: Well I started making it under my independent label Unison and I jumped around a lot with different producers and stuff. It was kind of the first situation where I felt like it was exactly what I hoped it would sound like. It was a really open process as well because my producer Bruce [Witkin] and all of the musicians who played on it really respected my songs. They know that I have an idea on what I want something to sound like so anytime anything would be added or changed they were always supportive and I always got their approval. I just felt really welcome. I had a lot of fun working with them.
Q: You have the “Under Construction” video out where you are singing beneath a construction site that pans out to a nice surprise at the end. Can you talk about your experience making the video?
Justine: Yeah my friends have a Youtube channel where they make gorgeous videos with a lot of musicians, some of whom are also good friends of mine. They came to me with the idea for the video and I thought it was so perfect. So we filmed it and it was a really easy process. It was just fun to do. There is a making of the music video and I just act like an idiot because it’s really late and I’ve had too much caffeine.
Q: Is there a song on the EP that you feel closest to?
Justine: Well any song when you write it is. I mean unless you are writing a joke song that you put together in five minutes then it probably doesn’t mean that much to you. So I think everything does have some type of meaning. I think each song speaks to different aspects of me because I’m writing from different aspects of myself. “Dark Side” is definitely a lot crazier and actually “A Good Man” is the best example. It’s not necessarily me because it’s from the viewpoint of a serial killer but that reminds me a little bit of like a Holden Caulfield-esque moment just questioning everything that happens around me. So that really speaks to one side of me and then “Unsaid” is a true story so every time I play it I get to return to that and it’s really special. I don’t know, I always get really emotional when I play “What’s It To Me” so I’m gonna go with that one. [laughs]. I’m gonna go with that. That’s the really long answer to your question!
Q: Where do you draw your biggest inspiration from?
Justine: What’s beautiful about inspiration and writing and channeling it is that you just never know where it’s gonna come from. It really depends on the moment. “A Good Man” is based on a story I read that for whatever reason really moved me to write a song. Sometimes it’s a real life experience that I’ve had where I physically can’t not write about it. Even if it’s other people’s music it’s just always there and it’s always spinning around you and you don’t know where it’s gonna hit so it’s really exciting.
Q: So are you working on putting together a album?
Justine: Yes, for sure. I’m really excited to do that. I’m hoping in the next coming weeks we’re gonna be starting on recording it. In terms of when it will be out I’m not entirely sure.
Q: Do you have any ideas on where you want to go with it musically?
Justine: Well it definitely is well I’m viewing it as an extension of the EP. It’s kind of in the same vein. I think it’s cool because I read this somewhere and I don’t remember exactly who said it but when you have your first record you have a whole existence as a song writer to pull from so it’s really exciting for me because I have so much to work with. Songs that I’m writing right now can be on it and songs that I wrote when I was fourteen can be on it. It’ll be kind of a mishmash of different versions of me.
Q: Now you have been playing some local shows but are you looking at doing in larger tours this year?
Justine: I would love to. I’d really like to be playing festivals. As soon as I feel that it’s a good time for me to go out on tour and that there will be people out there to listen and stuff then I want to go as soon as I can.
Q: So if someone came up to you and asked you to describe your music, what would you say?
Justine: I’m so bad at that. I feel like any artist you meet will say that they really don’t know. I usually call it like folk/pop. People have told me that they hear me play a song and they’re thinking okay, she sounds like x and then I’ll play another song and they go, no wait she sounds like y, what is it, I don’t know how to define it. I mean it’s not like I’m super crazy or anything but I think because my influences musically are all over the place then my music is all over the place. It’s like a blend of a bunch of different artists.
Q: Who are you listening to now?
Justine: Right now it’s not even funny how much I’m listening to Arctic Monkeys. The other day I actually had to tell myself to stop listening to them! I love St. Vincent. I’m seeing her live in March and I’m kind of fangirling over it. Also Arcade Fire and Beyonce’s new record. It’s really good and the music videos add another dimension to it. It’s awesome. I really love a website called Rookie Mag and they were kind of talking about it and how it’s like basically a self-portrait. She’s so open on it. I would love to be that free with my thoughts and feelings.
Q: I think with the state of music right now you really have to find new ways to and avenues to get your music out there. I know some of your music has been featured on some tv shows and things like that.
Justine: Yeah I concur and be open to putting more times into things like that. I really think placements on television and in movies have just broken artists. I mean look at The Lumineers. All of their PR was basically from being placed in a bunch of commercials and then they blew up pretty fast.
Q: When did you know you wanted to do this?
Justine: I was always performing but I did musical theater for a long time and then started getting into straight up music as well as the acting aspect of it. Around thirteen I started to get a little more serious about it and by fifteen, and I’m eighteen now, so it wasn’t that long ago but I really, really knew that music was what I really wanted to do and love. It was what I was passionate about and wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Q: What is your biggest goal moving forward?
Justine: I just would love, I mean I fluctuate between wanting to play stadiums and then I saw Arcade Fire at the Palladium and I mean it’s not tiny but it’s not a stadium either and it was one of the most powerful shows I’d ever seen. So at this point I just want to be able to pick a city anywhere in the world and be able to go and play and have people there that know my music and know my lyrics. Then once again I would love to play a festival like Coachella. That’s kind of huge but I just want to work on playing festivals because I think that’s a base where people go to listen to music and discover new music. That’s where people I feel tend to be the most open.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not working on music?
Justine: I love listening to music! [laughs] I drive a lot and I love taking my sister and my friends around downtown L.A. or down to the beach and stuff. I mainly just try to spend time with people I love and music is always involved with it.
Q: You often sing with your singer. Do you ever find that difficult?
Justine: Not at all. We’re really, really close and we don’t butt heads at all. Well we barely ever butt heads! She’s got a gorgeous voice so it’s not like I’m going, oh you’re dragging me down! I’m probably dragging her down, she’s pretty fabulous!
Q: Well do you have any final words for the fans and where can they find you?
Justine: Thank you and there’s more coming. The universe is love. The best spot to look me up is at my website at www.justinedorsey.com and there are links to all of my pages there but if anyone wants to tweet me I’m @justinedorsey.