If you frequent our site, Justice Skolnik should be a name you recognize. The Bay Area producer has been cranking out some fuego remixes over the past few weeks. Today, he is back with a brand new Odesza remix.
We had the chance to sit down with him to chat about his beginnings as well as what’s to come. He’s got a very bright future and we can’t wait for what’s to come from Skolnik. Peep his new “White Lies” remix and get to know the man behind the remixes with our exclusive interview below.
H: How did your music making journey start? When did you know it was more than just a hobby?
J: Music has really been a part of me for almost my whole life. My parents always knew that they wanted my sister and me to start playing music at a young age, so when I was 5 they basically told me that I could pick any instrument. I ended up choosing guitar and pretty much started taking lessons right away. I played classical music for quite some time before venturing into flamenco as well as a bit of jazz. I took lessons and played for about 11-12 years I would say.
I really didn’t start producing until my junior/senior years of high school. Although I was playing classical guitar, I really didn’t listen to that kind of music at all growing up. I was basically very stubborn and only listened to rap for a long time. It’s kind of funny because at a young age I didn’t really pay attention to any of the lyrics (much to the relief of my parents haha) but pretty much only to the instrumentals. So, one day I just opened up GarageBand because I wanted to try and make a cool beat. As I slowly started to figure out the ins and outs of basic production I started uploading beats and mashups to YouTube (I’m sure you can still find these if you do some digging).
During high school, a couple of friends were constantly playing electronic music off their phones and I typically was repulsed by it. But, eventually, I actually started listening and slowly came around to really enjoying the music. Those same friends always bugged me to try and make a remix of some sort, but I never really had the desire to do so. I’m honestly not sure why, but one day I just tried it out and put it up on SoundCloud. My friends hit me up and we’re all saying, “Duuuuuuude this is so dope, do more of this” etc etc. I really started listening to more electronic music and was kind of just hooked to all the cool music that was coming out at the time on SoundCloud. I kept putting out music just for fun for a while and it wasn’t really until I got to college when I realized that maybe this was something I wanted to really try and pursue.
I was studying journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago, and to say the least that was quite the grind. During school I always just found myself wanting to make music every minute of the day. Pretty much whenever I had free time I would just be working in my dorm blasting music, probably annoying most of the people on my floor. I eventually left Northwestern after one year because I knew that journalism wasn’t my true passion and that I wanted to pursue music. I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to make moves or what steps to take, but I just kept putting out music as much as I could. I was sending my remixes around to all sorts of blogs, just hoping for responses, and finally, I ended up getting a couple. One of those responses is what led to me eventually linking up with my current mgmt team which really made me feel like this could be more than just a something I do for fun.
H: What is your go-to Chicago Pizza?
J: I’m a big Giordano’s Guy. It is definitely far superior to Lou Malnati’s in my opinion. There’s also two spots in the bay, Patxi’s and Zachary’s, that lowkey make amazing deep dish that you would easily think is from Chicago–it honestly might be even better. Only problem I have with deep dish is that I literally feel like I put a brick in my stomach after because I will not stop eating it once I start. Then again, I usually do that with basically everything I eat.
H: What was the first track you uploaded to Soundcloud?
J: The first track I uploaded to SoundCloud was probably just a random rap beat that I made in GarageBand. But, the first electronic track I uploaded was a remix of Rihanna’s track, “Stay”. I made it in about 2 hours on my futon one day after school and just decided to upload it.
H: You’ve teamed up with Jeremy Zucker multiple times, what’s your guys’ relationship like? We met Jeremy back in the day at Colorado College, he’s a super nice dude!
J: Yeah, Jeremy and I have worked on a couple songs together. I first heard about him from a mutual friend who lived with him at Colorado College. He sent me Jeremy’s music in early 2015, and I thought it was super dope. We talked for a bit then I actually remixed a really old song of his, “Nada”. A few months later I hit him up again to work on an original track, which turned into ‘Glow’. At the time we were sending a lot of stuff back and forth, and eventually, we made ‘Cameras’ as well. He’s a super nice and talented dude, and I’m just stoked to see that he’s really blown up over the past couple years.
H: In terms of Originals, what do you use for inspiration? Anything besides fellow musicians/artists?
J: When it comes to originals, my process/inspiration is just very all over the place. It really depends on how the song comes together. For example, the two tracks I made with Jeremy were totally different in terms of my inspiration and how it played out. I made the instrumental for ‘Glow’ basically in one night. I had just started making more upbeat music in the past couple months before that and just wanted to continue with that trend. It was a very easy instrumental; I didn’t want too much going on, and the simple melody just came out of nowhere. It was really the first instrumental that I made for an original song, so I didn’t really look anywhere for inspiration in particular. I just did what came to my head right away. On the other hand, ‘Cameras’ was a longer process. I was listening to a lot of experimental/wavy music back in 2016 and I made this cool wobbly instrumental. I sent it to Jeremy and he hit me back saying something along the lines of “yo can I write to this?”—I was obviously stoked. There were a few different camera samples in the instrumental, so I named it Cameras and he wrote to that idea. He sent me back his vocals, and they were great. But, after sitting with the track as a whole for a while, it just didn’t really stick with me. I would say about 8-9 months later I came back around to the track. I scratched almost everything in the previous instrumental and just built around his voice. I had put out quite a few remixes already, and was slowly starting to find my niche and what I wanted my overall sound to be. I was trying to get more of a crossover vibe with this track, while still having a bit of the grit that could set it apart from a typical pop song. A lot of trial and error, but it came to fruition and we finally put it out almost 2 years after the process started. Overall, I wouldn’t say I look anywhere specific for inspiration, it just comes to me in waves depending on what I have been listening to and what I’m feeling at the moment.
H: You’re part of the Alt:Vision roster; the home of fellow rising star producers like K?d, Medasin, and Drezo. How did your journey with that team begin? Any funny stories?
J: Yeah, I connected with Alt-Vision at the end of 2015. I was always really into the site, Run The Trap, and would always send my music there hoping to get in contact with someone from there. I ended up getting in touch with one of the guys and kept sending him music for a while. Eventually, he told me about what they were up to in starting Alt Vision. I thought it was super dope, and we started working together shortly after. They’re all super hard working and really just want what’s best for all their artists. I’ve seen them grow their roster over the past couple years and it’s really awesome to see how they’ve slowly just become a force in the electronic music world. I’m not sure if this is funny, but the one thing that comes to mind is when my friend flew out to come to a festival with me and we hung out with one of my managers, medasin, and others. Nothing really in particular happened, but it was just kind of a funny day overall. I always get a kick out of that friend and we all just had a good time.
H: When it comes to remixes, what goes into the song selection for your remix?
J: I honestly just remix songs that I really enjoy listening to. There are certain tracks that I feel shouldn’t be touched because they’re just great the way they are, but most of the time if I am listening to a song, I’m usually thinking to myself, ‘this could be cool to remix’. Now, obviously most of these don’t come to life, but when I get rolling on one that I really enjoy I will just finish it in like a day if I can.
H: Who are you listening to right now? Inside and outside the Electronic industry.
J: It’s funny because whenever someone asks me this, I can never think of who I’m actually listening to at that moment. But currently, bbno$ has been on repeat for me the past couple of weeks. He just dropped a new album too and I’m absolutely loving it. He has a really nice flow that reminds me a lot of that West Coast hip hop sound, which I love. I’m also just a huge Drake fan—probably more than I should be. Marc E Bassy is someone that I’ve also been a big fan of. He’s from the Bay too and I’d just love to work with him one day. Jeremy has also been putting out great music the past year, and whenever I’m driving I would say he gets more than a few streams from me. A group that’s on the come up right now, Always Never, is one of my favorites at the moment. Their music reminds me a lot of The Weeknd, who I also listen to probably on a daily basis. In terms of electronic music, one of my favorite tracks at the moment is “Hurting” by SG Lewis. A couple of my favorite electronic artists are Sam Gellaitry & Disclosure, so whenever they drop music I am so stoked. My music taste is really just all over the place, but I think that’s the way it should be.
H: Curve-ball, what are you watching right now?
J: I finished up both seasons of Ozark, which was unbelievable – highly recommend. I can’t wait for Game of Thrones to come back either, along with Stranger Things. I’d probably say my favorite show of all time is The Office so I will watch that any day of the week really.
H: This is a hard one, who are your Top 3 Office characters?
J: Kevin Malone, Kevin Malone, and you guessed it – Kevin Malone.
No, but Michael Scott is also just obviously a great character as well. The show wouldn’t ever be what it is without the world’s best boss.
H: What’s your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
J: Favorite thing about the Bay is hands down the food. I’m convinced there’s no other place that has better food than here—someone will have to prove me wrong. I’m a huge foodie, so my friends and I always are trying new places out here, and there are so many. It’s all so good, and you can pretty much find any type of food you want here. Also, the weather isn’t too bad either!
H: If you could collaborate with any artist outside of the electronic genre right now, who would it be?
J: Well, if we’re talking dreams then Drake is just the easy answer. But, as I said earlier, I would love to work with Marc E Bassy. I think his music is super dope, and we’d make something really awesome.
H: What’s next for Justice Skolnik? Any upcoming projects or collabs you can tell us about?
J: I’m working on a lot now! Expect some more remixes coming out, and I’m also working on an EP right now. I’m not sure when that will be completely finished, but the hope is definitely sooner than later. Hopefully I will be out on the road later this year, but for now I’m just taking everything one day at a time. Just appreciate everyone who’s listening to all my stuff currently!
H: Thanks so much to Justice for chatting with us today, we’ll continue to cover his music so keep the bangers coming! Be sure to check out the rest of his work on Spotify here and his Soundcloud below.