Born in Suffolk, Virginia, this 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, play any sports or watch TV.” Beyond his own father’s lead guitar playing in the congregation, this extended to his knowledge of popular music as well: “I didn’t know until later on that my dad was influenced by Prince and Jimi Hendrix.”
“I was the rebellious one that always had questions,” he continues while talking about his place in the church—and that rebelliousness eventually led him to be cast away 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 (Katy Perry, Neon Trees) 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. “I was using sound and music, not just one particular artist. The atmosphere that Dave and I created came so organically.”
And Just Loud’s Self-Titled album sounds like it effortlessly flows from that creative connection—from the huge, anthemic nature of tracks like “Ghost” and “Angels and Demons” to the absolutely riotous “You Got the Moves,” a Jackie Chan-referencing barnburner that addresses conflict in relationships. “’You Got The Moves’ is about the type of person who knows exactly what buttons to push to get a reaction out of you,” he explains, “I was in a relationship for a long time with someone who would do that every time we got into an argument. They knew exactly what they were saying or doing to get me to react, and every time they did, I’d be like, ‘You know what you’re doing. You got the moves like Jackie Chan.’”
With a glittery rhythm line, palm-muted guitar and irresistible chorus, the album also includes the infectious and funky single “Soul Train” featuring Debbie Harry of Blondie. “I knew someone who was on Soul Train years ago—she got kicked off,” explains Just Loud. “When we parted ways, I was like, ‘I’m gonna write a song about that.’ It’s a rebellious record—I want everyone to get up, move, and have a good time.”
Heartache and what comes after it is a topic that runs through this album; “Will You Still Love Me” is a naked plea that questions the nature of acceptance, while “Heaven” likens falling in and out of love to taking drugs—how it feels, what happens when it wears off, and what’s gained and lost in the process. “Your mind and body go somewhere else—you start to see your demons,” Just Loud opens up about the perspective that led him to write the song. “Does it feel like heaven when I’m gone now? Or are you still in hell? I don’t need those extra things anymore to be—I’m comfortable being me now, and having a voice without the extra stuff.”
Indeed, this album is the sound of Just Loud finding himself and who he wants to be—for himself, yes, but also for all those out there who find themselves without a voice, wishing they could finally get the courage to speak up. “I’m starting a riot,” he states passionately. “It’s time for all the people who have been manipulated, victimized, and challenged—I’m calling everyone together, back to the surface. Everyone tries to be so fucking cool, and I got sick and tired of trying to fit in. I want to tell people that you don’t have to do it alone. If I was able to discover my voice, you can do the same.” What’s more inspiring than that?