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Justin Soileau has been in OC for only a little while, but the Texas native brought something with him: The Heat, a six-song, solo debut EP recorded with the help of his former home-state band Fathers Against Parades. Due for a February rerelease on iTunes, the EP makes for a strong calling card, boasting a mix of upbeat arrangements—often centered on piano—and some darker sentiments. We caught up with Soileau as he looked ahead to his forthcoming OC Music Awards performance.
OC Weekly: Tell us about your Texas background and how you ended up here in Orange County.
Soileau: I grew up in a small town in Southeast Texas called Lumberton and lived there until nearly a year ago, when I moved to Costa Mesa. I started writing and recording music at home when I was 13. After a couple of rough years following high school, I was fortunate enough to be sent to Orange County to go through a drug-and-alcohol-rehabilitation program. Recently, I have begun working for the rehab I went through, been attending college and been pursuing the music thing.
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The general sound of The Heat makes me think of 1970s studio pop rock, like how acts such as Big Star and ELO reworked ideas by the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Is that how you see your work, or are there other sources of inspiration?
That's a good way to describe it. There's so much good pop music that I like going all the way back to the 1940s and up to a lot of the new music coming out today. If I start writing a song and it happens to sound like something Paul McCartney would write, I figure it's off to a good start.
What else drives your music?
I feel like it's absolutely necessary for me to stay busy and creative. It's therapy for me. It helps me to sort out all of the mess, and it's fun to be the center of attention sometimes and be validated by an audience.
In your music, there are both peppiness and numerous hints of moody melancholy—are these complementary or contrasting sides?
I tend to be a depressive and cynical person. So, when I write music, it's hard not to make it completely melodramatic and depressing. A lot of the time, I try to add a certain sarcastic or silly tone to the music. "Daisies and Bones" is an upbeat track about my funeral; "I'd Never Lie to You" is a confessional about me taking advantage of people whom I care about. Although they have some pretty heavy themes, I like to think the peppiness adds a bit of much-needed humor to the songs.
What are your thoughts on the OC music community?
The OC Music Awards will be my first concert in almost two years, so I haven't had the pleasure of performing here and experiencing the music scene firsthand. However, I've listened to a lot of local musicians on the Internet, and I'm excited to start performing alongside such good bands. I love living in Orange County. I've made a lot of good friends out here, and there are plenty of distractions around to keep me entertained.
What's next for you in terms of recordings and releases?
I would love to go in to a studio today and start working on a new album, but that costs money!
This column appeared in print as "Texas Heat."