Are you ready to get loud? Just Loud’s Episode I is a bold and confident introduction to a truly unique artist, representing an immaculate blend of modern pop and the spiky, in-your-face pop-rock of the 1980s while projecting pure originality. True to its name, Episode I may be the first time you experience Just Loud’s fearless artistry—but it assuredly won’t be the last.
Born in Suffolk, Virginia, the 28-year-old singer’s adolescence largely revolved around the church his family raised him within. “It was a very small country church—very old-school,” he states on his upbringing. “My mom couldn’t wear makeup or pants, I couldn’t go to movies or play any sports or watch TV. I was the rebellious one that always had questions.” That rebelliousness eventually led him to be cast away from the church at the age of 15, at which point he decamped to New York to pursue making music professionally.
Hard work eventually led to signing a record deal with Eleven Seven Label Group, with Episode I's four tracks coming from various recording sessions with Dave “Sluggo” Katz (Neon Trees, Coheed and Cambria) over the past year. “I always say I have voices in my head where I collect sound,” Just Loud says while talking about the recording sessions. “Sometimes I’d do Bowie, sometimes I’d feel MGMT—I was using sound and music, not just one particular artist.” adds producer Dave Katz.
Indeed, Episode I sounds like the results of pure creative magic, with accompanying videos from the creative mind of artist Aleia Murawski (who was featured in Petra Collins’ In Search of Us show last year at NYC’s MoMa). Opening track “Ghost” is passionate and anthemic, with a powerful vocal performance by Just Loud that asks tough questions when it comes to how we as human beings deal with love and loneliness. “The first line is ‘I talk too much or not at all,’ and that’s me, 100%,” he explains. “I’m very shy and outspoken—a full Gemini—and that balance is hard when it comes to being in a relationship with someone. Can you handle all of me? Would you go ghost on me once I found out who I am?”
“Angels and Demons” is perhaps Episode I’s most personal cut, a high-stakes rocker with a mountain-scaling chorus that addresses the unanswered questions Just Loud has about his past. “When Dave started building the track, I felt where my roots came from,” he reminisces about how working with Katz opened him up to exploring his past. “I got kicked out of church because I’m a very opinionated person. I was confused—If God is the God of love, why do we have to follow so many rules? I’ve been in a bubble, and now I’ve been released from that bubble. I’ve been kicked out of heaven, but there’s a place for me.”
And then there’s the high-energy “Electrified,” in which Just Loud ruminates on the parties of days past over a tart synth line so infectious that it might just lodge itself in your head for days. Underneath the swaying framework and ebullient vocals—reminiscent of electro-rocking contemporaries like MGMT and M83—lies some serious truths about growing up and personal maturation. “Partying made me electrified—I was invincible,” he admits. “If you give a loner drugs, they’re no longer a loner—they’re comfortable, they feel like they’re the shit. Every time I did drugs, I always wished I could be that person in real life.”
Figuring out who you are is an essential facet of life on Earth, and Episode I is ultimately a document of Just Loud making such discoveries in real time—expressing himself, his pain and glories, through his strikingly impactful art. “I’m saying all the things I wish I could’ve said years ago,” he explains. “Imagine a loner not having a voice, and all of the sudden they just feel like talking.” Episode I is a fantastic opening salvo of such a conversation—and it’ll leave you wanting to hear what he has to say next, too.