We had the good fortune of connecting with Justina Shandler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justina, what’s your definition for success?
I define success as an internal dialogue that says, “I’m cool with myself.” This success shows up for external praise, and it stays in the face of indifference and criticism. Going by this definition, the most successful people I know are positively UNFLAPPABLE. They smile when praised, with a grounded knowing that they are worthy, whether or not other people think so. They shrug when criticized. They cannot be taken from themselves. They stay. I feel the most successful when I bounce back from rejection, or when I am able to not take things personally in general.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My music is heartfelt and quirky. I have a unique singing voice, (I myself am not an innocent/convivial person, but my voice is!) the instant you hear my music you’ll know it’s me. I’ve been compared to the likes of Ben Folds, Regina Spektor, and Sara Bareilles. Lately, though, I’ve dipped a few toes in the electro-pop realm. I moved to Los Angeles last year to pursue writing for sync. Between that and teaching songwriting, I barely have time to water the garden and watch Vampire Diaries with my roommates! I care about being kind and inclusive, and I also champion creativity and boldness (I have purple hair… hello… I want to stand OUT!) My music is an extension of these things. When I teach songwriting, we dive deeper than discussing the mechanics of a song. I aim to remind my students of their inherent greatness, and that songwriting is a way to remember and connect to our collective humanity.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would likely not leave the kitchen. It’s kind of our thing to empty the refrigerator on the kitchen floor and sit there while talking and eating for hours. We might wake up at 5am to drive through the mountains or watch the sunrise on the beach. It’s one of the reasons I moved to Los Angeles (besides finding/befriending Joni Mitchell) so much beauty in nature. I might have had a different answer if I didn’t move to LA just a couple months before COVID-19 hit… not much is open!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family (blood and chosen) have believed in me since the beginning, and continue to lift me up, challenge me, and remind me that humanity has so much goodness.