Words by Keane Fletcher

Some of us have been busy in lockdown!

Not only has Geelong-based musician TJ Black launched his own music label G-Town Records, he's also just dropped his first single 'Just Wanna Be Free', a feel-good bop perfect for those experiencing the 2020 blues.

Marrying a Motown groove with lyrics addressing the state of restrictions in Victoria, 'Just Wanna Be Free', is a timely reminder to look for light at the end of the tunnel even when things seem dark.

'COVID-19 and the associated restrictions were a dark time for many people...I wanted to create a song that could reflect the feelings of a wide audience but in a way that was hopeful.'

We recently caught up with Black to talk all things music and inspo, check it out below.

1- Where in the world are you based? 

Geelong, Victoria, Australia. 

2- How would you describe your sound? Who are your musical influences? 

My sound, depends on the day really and can change at any given moment. I’m a dreamer. 

My musical influences, literally anybody who makes music as every artist brings something unique to the creative universe that is music. However there is definite influences by Tupac, Michael Jackson and Eminem evident in my work. 

3- What first got you into music? 

When I was about 8 I seen a video of Michael Jackson performing at Motown 25, there was something in his performance that was life changing. That’s when I became a superfan of music, and his work.

3- What’s your creative process like? 

I start with the beat, from there I just close my eyes and interpret what I hear it saying. I freestyle and then the melody, flow and words start appearing and I piece it together. 

4- We’ve got your single ‘Just Wanna Be Free’ playing on repeat in the office! Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write this song? 

I had been watching some documentaries about Motown Records and the work of Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye, I noticed the sound and feel of their music captured the times. At the time I watched these docos COVID-19 and the associated restrictions were a dark time for many people, I wanted to create a song that could reflect the feelings of a wide audience but in a way that was hopeful. 

5- How do you feel the COVID-19 pandemic has affected you as an artist? Do you think it’s changed the music industry for the better or worse? 

As an artist COVID-19 inspired me to take unconventional routes instead of live gigs and making videos it has showed the importance of social media and other internet media platforms, like you guys, and their significance in creating artist profiles, sharing content and engaging with audiences. 

In a lot of ways COVID-19 has had a negative effect of live artists shows but in other ways has expanded the reach of music as artists have had to find creative ways of reaching their audiences.

6- Which artist would be your dream collaboration? 

Just one? It would be a dream to collaborate with any superstar but if I had to pick one I’d say Tupac. If I had to pick a living artist it would be Eminem. 

7- What’s next for you? 

I’ve got a few projects on the go, between working for my label G-town Records, I am also part of a rap group, GTC, we are currently working on several single releases and narrowing down our song selection for our debut album, which should be out soon. Along with more singles as a solo artist and my EP out within the next few months. So some busy and exciting times ahead. 

8- Anything else? 

I have been lucky enough to have this song selected to be part of a documentary, picked up by an advertising agency and other digital radio and podcast features. So you will definitely be seeing a lot more of me and my music in the future. I am grateful to all the opportunities I have been provided and everyone who has supported me in my journey. Thank you. 

Follow me at:

Facebook: Gtownrecords2020 

Instagram: @gtown_records 

Song link: ampl.ink/b1wqm

Thanks for stopping by Hipland!