We had the good fortune of connecting with Justina Shandler and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Justina, what role has risk played in your life or career?
That jittery nervous feeling I get before a performance, the sweaty hands before I introduce myself to a new person, the imposter syndrome when I ask for more money than is being offered, the mornings I don’t snooze my alarm because I’m ready to wake up and show up… whether it’s a whisper of adrenaline or sheer terror, that increased heartrate is a measuring stick of growth. My fears and cluelessness don’t get to win when I take risks. I can either fight for my limitations or create the life I truly want (I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, by no means have I mastered this, but it is getting easier to remember!)

The pandemic hit hard, which led me to seek comfort (and Netflix) wherever I could find it. The world is slowly opening up again, I’m fully vaccinated, fully in therapy, and now I feel a shift. Just as before, I value deep rest and nourishment, but now I find myself choosing scary things over comfort. I quit one of my teaching jobs. I’m turning down work. I’m visiting my emotional trenches and writing songs about things I never thought I’d share. I’m releasing the strange pride I’ve had in being a “starving artist” and rewriting this narrative. It’s more unnerving than staying small and safe, but I’m seeing more results than I ever have. The starving artist mentality kept me small in so many more ways than just the money I was making. Now, I’m seeing my relationships deepen and expand, I’m seeing my original songs on TV shows, I’m giving myself permission to dream of everything I want.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
If Sara Bareilles and any Disney princess had a baby, it might be my music. It’s equal parts cute and introspective. More than one person has told me they listen to my songs when they have panic attacks to feel better. I’m *deeply* curious about human behavior and writing songs helps me organize the data I collect from my own experience and others’. So much of life feels like pure chaos and confusion. To me, songwriting is sweet clarity.

I studied music in college and have been teaching songwriting in schools, camps, and prisons for seven years. I spent several years performing music professionally around Miami, with regular gigs at the Ritz-Carlton resort, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Coral Gables Art Museum, to name a few. A year and a half ago I moved to Los Angeles, and pretty easily found more teaching work and performance opportunities (funerals and kids’ birthday parties mostly). Now, I am creating more time to build my artist career. I have an EP that will be released on September 3rd, and am writing more songs than I know what to do with! Getting to hear my music on TV (Good Trouble and Temptation Island) has been a dream, and a dream that I continue to nurture.

I am most excited about a new project with my friend Elaine, called JELAINA (Justina + Elaine = …you get it). We are dismantling the patriarchy with glitter and healing and insanely hooky pop music. We’ve got a few hits already recorded and had our first release on June 25th. We also have an initiative together called Sync Music for a Change where we offer monthly listening sessions with music supervisors in exchange for musician activism. We’ve fostered an enthusiastic and loyal community here that continues to grow. We have a packed summer of shooting music videos, recording more songs, speaking on issues important to us, and drinking tea. Everything you need to learn more and support us is at this link! https://linktr.ee/jelaina

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?
This is good practice because my best friend IS visiting the area soon and I do not have a plan. Zuma beach with picnic and watch the sunset, Switzer Falls for a stunning hike, Din Tai Fung for the best dumplings ever. Los Angeles still feels new to me since so much of my stay here has been in quarantine!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Cathy Heller’s 6 Figure Songwriting course led me to form a close circle of friends and collaborators. I’ve had the honor of making music and receiving support from so many, including Elaine Ryan, John Clinebell, Annie LaFleur, Jesse Thom, John Navarrette, Ivan LaFever, Billy Lefler, Ben Drysdale, Alex Bradfield, Maria Tesoro, Vaughn Faison, Rachel McGoye, David Thiele, Laurie Geltman, Lynda Levy, Daniel Norwick, and more. I’m very lucky. Additionally, I have to name and thank Ron, Susan, and Darielle Shandler, Michele King, Lamees Aisami, Elaine Ryan, Caitlin Cantrell, Katie Cyrus, Ani Hentkowski, Daniel Herman, Steven Gizzi, Neli Perales, Anakha Coman, Abby Levens, and Shanna Hoar, for their next level love and friendship, as well as Cor Stahl, Lanie Smith, Kavita Singh, and Keith Leon for their incredible mentorship. I love my life because of myself and these people.

Website: http://www.justinashandler.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/justinashandlermusic/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jshandler/

Youtube: https://youtu.be/yqSwfc7-E40

Other: https://linktr.ee/justinashandler

Image Credits
Alice Kim

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