Justin Caruso is currently redefining the limitations of an average college student by balancing a full course load at the University of Southern California with chart topping remixes and originals for acts like the Chainsmokers, Ellie Goulding, Blink 182, and Justin Bieber just to name a few. His debut single “Talk About Me (feat. Victoria Zaro)” (a fellow student at USC) racked up over 1 million streams in the first week along with reaching the #2 spot on Hype machine and the Soundcloud Dance Charts along with reaching #44 on Spotify’s Global Viral Charts. He’s currently amassed over 60k followers on Soundcloud and casually enjoys a cool 370k average listeners on Spotify a month. You may have heard the Chainsmokers dropping his remix of “Until You Were Gone” on their most recent Memories Do Not Open Tour or you might have seen Justin performing as direct support on his good friend 3Lau’s national tour where his remix of “Is It Love” quickly became the highlight of Caruso’s exponential rise to musical stardom.
His newest single “Love Somebody” displays a taste of Justin’s signature sound by combining captivating guitar riffs with warm pads and lightly placed vocal chops to carry a strong driving bass line from phrase to phrase. It’s difficult to relate this track to any one artist in particular but one can feel influences from artists such as Marshmello, Illenium, Young Bombs, Two Friends, and Filous just to name a few. I’m extremely excited for everyone to watch Justin’s career explode over the next year so without further ado enjoy this interview with electro-pop sensation Justin Caruso.
BFS: Hey Justin how’s it going man?
JC: It’s going great! Just finished up school so I’m finally enjoying summer and I’m super excited to put a lot of work into music.
BFS: Nice that’s great to hear! What’re you majoring in?
JC: I’m majoring in music industry studies which has been awesome because everything I learn I try and put into my day to day life which has been super helpful.
BFS: That sounds like a super cool program! I’ve heard from friends that there’s a music production program at USC would you mind talking a bit about that?
JC: Yeah so the music production program is actually a part of the music industry program and it’s been incredibly helpful with my career so far. The singer off my last single “Talk About Me” actually goest to the same school so it’s been a great way to connect and network with people who have the same passion as me.
BFS: So you probably knew you wanted to get into music for quite some time then huh?
JC: Yeah I started messing around with mashups in GarageBand in high school and have been addicted to it ever since!
BFS: Very cool! Would you mind talking a bit about your life before music?
JC: Definitely! My life before music was all basketball. I trained all day and unfortunately came down with a knee injury before the beginning of the season. This lead to me picking up music so I guess you could say it’s a blessing in disguise. I taught myself day by day and I’m here now doing what I love so it all worked out well.
BFS: Awesome I’m glad to hear that! Can you talk a bit about how you got involved with USC and what that interview process was like?
JC: Yeah we had a series of video interviews and had to submit some of our stuff and back then I didn’t have the biggest portfolio and wasn’t extremely confident in music so that was definitely one of the more stressful times in my life.
BFS: Do you remember what you submitted for your interviews?
JC: During that time electro-house was the big thing so I was trying to recreate the same vibe and although it doesn’t really sound like anything I’m doing now I was just producing a bunch of different stuff to try and make myself a better producer. I also did an internship at Interscope records my senior year of high school which I used to leverage my way into the program.
BFS: So I see this “I Want You To Know” remix is the first song on your Soundcloud? Was this the first song you released or what’s the story around this track?
JC: Yeah that was definitely the first track that I was proud of (and still am) and wanted to share with the public. I got some support from other bigger DJs and that was a huge breaking point for me.
BFS: When you were first getting on the map did you have a team to help promo your music or what’d you do to get noticed?
JC: My manager Alex was one of my brother’s best friends and saw something in my music so he eventually took me under his wing. One of my other managers Blake was a senior at USC while I was a freshman and we hit it off right away and still work together today.
BFS: Could you speak a little about the community of artists you surround yourself with?
JC: All the artists I’ve reached out to have been super supportive. It started out with artists like Kap Slap and Gazzo which eventually stemmed into connected with Two Friends and nowadays I’m getting support and advice from people like the Chainsmokers, 3LAU, and NGHTMRE which has been super inspiring. Electronic music is one of the only genres where people regularly play other people’s music so I feel like everyone is on the same page of trying to help everyone succeed.
BFS: That sounds like a really positive environment! How did you first start establishing connections with these artists?
JC: The biggest thing for me was going to a lot of their shows and try to meet them out back of the venue. I wasn’t being annoying but was definitely trying to get feedback. I also sent a bunch of music to promo emails and surprisingly enough they check those emails pretty often. I heard back from a lot of these guys pretty quickly and once I established a connection with one artist is opened the door for me to connect with so many others. If you establish yourself and are making good music, there’s no reason they aren’t going to want to talk to you as long as you’re a good person and don’t have a big ego. I think a big problem with a lot of these young producers is that they have this ego where they think they’re better than everyone and that’s really not going to get you anywhere in life.
BFS: Great advice right there. What’s your average day been looking like recently?
JC: I try and balance working on music and hanging out with friends as much as possible. In the afternoon I work on music and then at night I like to try and go out and get dinner with friends to clear my head and then keep working on music late at night. I think it’s important to maintain a balance between music and social life because at the end of the day the stuff I’m writing about is stuff that I’m experiencing in my everyday life. The more that I can get out to try and do new things and have new experiences the better off I am because I’ll have new material to write about.
BFS: So I take it you have a lot of friends outside of music?
JC: Most of my buddies all have different dreams so its kind of nice because we’re all doing our own thing but at the end of the day we still get along super well. My friends have been super supportive of my music so I do my best to try and bring them along to shows and on tour if possible. We always have the best time together on the road.
BFS: Who were your biggest influences when figuring out what kind of music you wanted to make?
JC: I try to listen to every genre possible. One of my favorite genres is country music. I obviously listen to a lot of EDM and jazz. Porter Robinson, Swedish House Mafia, and a lot of country like Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean. Country music tells amazing love stories so I try and portray a similar story in my own music.
BFS: What do you represent as an artist and what do you want to represent in the future?
JC: I always try and explain to everyone that I’m a normal dude just like them. I was in the same crowd as you less than a year ago. I want to be able to connect with people and be really relatable in every sense. I want to try and expand my sound to reach as many people as possible
BFS: As someone who’s never heard your music before how would you go about pitching it to them?
JC: I try and make it really really relatable. I don’t try to stick to one genre but rather just make whatever I’m feeling. Drew and Alex from the Chainsmokers offered some great advice that genres don’t matter. Make what feels best to you and it’ll strike a chord with people. I’m only 21 so I’m still trying to find my place in the world and I feel like I’ve put a lot of those emotions and experiences in my music which has connected with other people my age going through the same things
BFS: Would you mind talking a bit about your personal life and who you are outside of music?
JC: I’m very close with all my friends and especially my family. I’ve definitely had my fair share of breakups. “ Love Somebody” is actually about past relationships and having a tough time with that person you love but at the end of the day you’d do anything for them because you love them.
BFS: Definitely! When I first listened to this track I noticed how simple it was. Can you speak a bit about simplicity and how it relates to your music?
JC: Simplicity is so important to me. If there’s too much going on when listening to music it gets exhausting. I also wanted my music to be very easy to listen to. "Love Somebody” opens with a simple guitar and vocal chop. The opening vocals instantly connect with the listener. The singer is talking directly to the listener and the drop is very simple but I also like to make the vocal chops be a part of that chorus. When the instrumental is just as important as the vocals it really makes the song stand out.
BFS: Very cool! I know we’re running out of time so for some final thoughts is there any advice you can offer to up and coming producers?
JC: To all the other producers out there please reach out to me. My snapchat is Caruso Music and I reply to everyone and a little fan group called J2JC. I’m super quick to respond and help people out. I’ve been there so I know how it feels and I’m here to help. I always give out the acapellas for free to give people a chance and ultimately just want to give people the opportunity to succeed.
BFS: Awesome well thank you so much for your time and best of luck with everyone over the summer!
JC: Thanks man it was great talking to you!
Stream “Love Somebody” featuring Chris Lee: https://awal.lnk.to/LoveSomebody
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Interview & Article By: Cooper Turley