We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Dean Olsen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justin Dean, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I pursued an artistic career because of my life long love of music. Growing up in Upper Michigan, I began listening to bands such as Huey Lewis & The News and INXS…always trying to sing along to their songs on my Walkman. It was around 8 years old that I remember hearing Tony Bennet and Bing Crosby Christmas albums that introduced me to the world of “Crooners”, Frank Sinatra, and the Big Band sound. I loved this music and it reminded me of being around my grandparents and family around the holidays. I never pursued music in my youth but the interest was always there. It was later in life at 27 years old that I had what I call a “musical epiphany” when I saw a concert on PBS one night of an Italian Crooner named Patrizio Buanne. When I saw this performer and heard his orchestra, all of the thoughts and images I had as a kid of Big Bands, Christmas music, and Frank Sinatra came rushing back and I instantly knew that’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
It was a difficult and long decade getting to where I am today. Starting from zero with little music experience, it all began in November of 2006 when I saw Patrizio Buanne’s concert on PBS. In May of 2007, I traveled to Beverly Hills, CA to see Patrizio’s first show in the U.S. at the Wilshire Theatre and got to meet him during a meet and greet. That weekend changed my life. When I returned to Las Vegas, I found a vocal coach and piano teacher and began going out 6 nights a week to lounges, showrooms, and open mics for about 6 years to meet other music professionals, soak up as much music knowledge as possible, wait for the opportunity to be called up to sing a couple songs, and learn how to perform. After about 5 years I got my first paid gig and things started to slowly build over the next 6 – 7 years. One of the key things I learned through this process is the importance of being passionate for and loving what you do. For me, it was what gave me the strength, drive, and determination to continue to persevere and push through during the times when I questioned whether or not my dream of singing for a living would ever be sustainable.
Today, SwingBeat Entertainment and my band “Justin & The SwingBeats” custom produces live music entertainment nationwide for corporate events, private functions, awards shows, and weddings. We bring together some of the country’s most accomplished and in demand musicians and vocalists providing band sizes from 2 – 18 pieces that cover a wide range of musical styles from Jazz, Swing, and Big Band to Pop, Rock, Top 40, High Energy Dance Favorites, and the Greatest Hits from the 70’s to today. We work with each client one-on-one to understand their vision and goals for their event and then custom produce a music program and band size to their desired specifications. We take a great deal of pride in each show we create with the goal of making each client’s event one of the best nights of their life!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Some of my favorite spots for dinner and drinks in L.A. are SUR or Gracias Madre followed by a concert at the Viper Room or The Whiskey. The Dresden is also a top pick for dinner and live music!
In Las Vegas, my favorite hangouts are the Italian American Club and Piero’s for amazing food, drinks, and that “Old Vegas” and Rat Pack vibe featuring live bands and singers. Every night it’s a who’s who of local entertainers and celebrities dropping in…you never know who will show up. These are definitely two of the top places where I take friends who visit!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to give credit to my mom, dad, and musical mentor Carmine Mandia for believing in me when I had this wild and extremely risky dream of pursuing music as a career at age 27 after never having sung in public in my life. I realize doing that took a lot of faith to believe in a person’s dream and abilities starting from that age…that someone could become successful in an industry that is already difficult to begin with. I owe everything to these three people…without their support and guidance, I would not have been able to learn the skills that ultimately enabled me to build the music business I have today.
Photo by Talbot Snow.