We had the chance recently to get to know Justin Fancy a bit better. For those of you who are not familiar with Justin, he is an incredibly talented artist from Conception Bay South in Newfoundland. From the first time we heard his voice, we were hooked (line and sinker haha). With a definite Saltwater cowboy twang, and songs that anyone can relate to, we have a feeling that his music is going to be a personal favorite. Justin has released two singles so far, Long Time Comin’ and Think About You. They can be found on digital streaming platforms such as ITunes and Spotify.
Growing up on the East Coast, you most likely had a lot of music around you! When did you realize you had a real passion and talent for performing? Who has been your biggest cheerleader along the way?
My extended family on both my Mom and Dad’s side were musically inclined and there was always music and singing growing up. My Father bought me my first guitar when I was 13 and put me into weekly lessons at a local music store in St. John’s. After only about 5 lessons and learning the basic chords, I remember picking through an old songbook my Aunt and Uncle had made many years ago and learning those songs one by one. It was that songbook that introduced me to country music with the likes of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, and the list goes on. My biggest fan was and still is my Mother. She asked me to bring the guitar everywhere I went. She was and is always proud of my musical accomplishments to date.
You have spent a lot of years performing in and around St. John’s, and you have sung many different genres. We love it when artists are able to mix it up. What was it that lead you to the county side?
My genre has always been country music ever since I was a little boy. I had always loved the crying of a steel guitar and a honky-tonk tele. We can’t forget the fiddle, which is popular in traditional/folk celtic music as well, which is a big part of our musical heritage in Newfoundland. After finishing in the top 200 of Canadian Idol in 2008, I had never played a gig on a stage before then and I was getting so many calls to perform in the pubs on George Street. I started at a pub called “The Rob Roy”. I didn’t know much classic rock songs other than Eagles which I thought was a touch country as well, but knew a bunch of Newfoundland songs so I thought I’d get by. 12 years later and having performed in almost every pub on the street, I have built a catalogue of music that spans across many genres but my heart has always been in country music, and that’s a crowd pleaser I find. Any entertainer who can sing just about any request that comes at them, I deem that a success for any audience.
Who have been some of your biggest musical influences over the years? If given the opportunity to perform with absolutely anyone, alive or not, who would you pick? Where would you be? Would it be a small, intimate jam or a sold-out arena?
Great question. I always go back to Merle (Haggard) for this one. I used to listen to his songs over and over again. His lyrics, his stories, his truth about life (even in prison) was fascinating and so raw to me. My most recent influence is definitely Luke Combs. He is as country and talented as they come, and he writes straight from the heart, very similar to what I try to do when I write a song. His ability to encapsulate fans with his relatable lyrics is truly remarkable and the results are showing. I would definitely love to share a stage with Luke, and it would definitely be a sold out arena! The more, the merrier!
Tell us a bit about your first single, Long Time Comin’. It almost feels like an autobiography. How have people been responding to it? We have listened to it many times and are really loving your voice!
First of all, thank you so much for the compliments. Long Time Comin’ is exactly that. When I was planning to do the album, I had really thought about an opening song, or introductory song, that would tell my story. I wrote the song back in November in about 10 minutes. All my friends, family, and supporters, can directly relate to the song, and have gotten feedback that it truly is a perfect introductory song to the Canadian country music industry. It was been a “Long Time Comin’”, but it was worth the wait. The song has been played on over 50 country stations across Canada, and the release has been highly successful, so I’ve been told, for an independent country artist’s debut song. I am beyond thankful for all the support thus far, and I hope to continue to build on this success with the launch of “Think About You”, my second single, to radio on June 18th.
How does Long Time Comin’ compare to your newest single, Think About You? What can we expect as you release more music over the coming year? Will we see a full length album or EP?
Long Time Comin’ is the complete and polar opposite of Think About You, which was a planned attempt of demonstrating the versatility of my music. Long Time Comin’ feels like a jam to me, where as Think About You digs deep and comes from the heart. My full album will launch in September this year, featuring both those singles along with 7 more original songs. We are planning to release a third single ahead of the album release as well to stay tuned for that.
What have been some of your proudest accomplishments to date? What would you like to see happen with your career over the next few years? What do you see as being the biggest barriers or challenges as you pursue music?
My proudest accomplishment to date was my journey with Canadian Idol and what that experience did to set the foundation for a music career. I had met a lot of contacts there, and although very young and inexperienced, I certainly did learn a lot about the business. Today, my daughter Kayleigh (7) is a major motivator for me and also, equally with Mom, my biggest fan.
Obviously being an independent artist these days, it’s hard to get the attention that label artists are getting and you need to know where to invest to gain traction in this industry. Understanding that it all STARTS with a good song is very important, and you need to have a great team around you to consistently succeed. The Canadian country music industry is fairly small, so building connections with key contacts is also very important and you have to do a lot of research on your own before attempting to break through. Obviously, I’ve had early success with Long Time Comin’ and I really take it back to the research I have done in recent years on how to build my brand, promote my music, and get the music across the country. I am actually about to co-host a 10 episode mini series podcast called the Indie Volt that will talk about my experience with branding, music promotion, releasing music to streaming, and also releasing music to radio. I’m actually quite excited to share my early experience, and hopefully learn a lot too by having some special guests on the show!
Social media can be a powerful tool if used the proper way…do you think it is still possible nowadays to build that fan base without it? How do you build and maintain a connection with your fans? Especially in these days of social isolation?
I think social media is THE key marketing space right now for any artist, especially independent. With the ability to promote your music for free on a platform with millions of people is great, but there are also some tricks to the trade and methods around promotion that I have researched and did seek advice on. Paid ads these days are very effective on social media, BUT you need to target the right audiences and modify your targets as your music grows to reflect the people that are actually listening to your music in order to grow.
I have been regularly connecting with my followers through live performances on Facebook and Instagram, posting behind the scenes videos, and staying active on my stories to ensure my fans are staying informed and interested, even more now with social isolation. I’m getting some great feedback on the live performances, and I do think it’s something I will regularly do, even when things get back to normal.
Can you tell us five random things about yourself or your music that most people would not already know? Hobbies, hidden talents, etc?
1. I am a mariner and love boating in Conception Bay, where I’m from and living today.
2. I am an avid golfer! I am a member at the local Bally Haly Country Club in St. John’s and just love the camaraderie that the sport brings. I play with a regular group of guys that I have for years, and every game is just as competitive as the last!
3. I had a blanket and sucked my thumb until I was 8 years old. As far as I know, Santa Claus took the blanket when he made a visit on Christmas Eve one year.
4. I’m an IT guy. I have loved computers since an early age and went to school to complete an Information Systems course I finished in 2011. Since then, I’ve done everything from fixing computers to being a Technical Lead on many major IT projects. For 9 years, I flew 200 km’s offshore Newfoundland on a helicopter at least twice a year to support operations on drilling platforms and production facilities. In order to do this, I was required to complete Basic Survival Training (BST) that required me to dunk in a remote controlled helicopter simulator and escape underwater as the helicopter rolled over. It was intense training! Look it up online, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
5. I released a self-produced, traditional Celtic album in 2014 with a band called “Eastern Passage” and was nominated for Music Newfoundland’s Celtic/Traditional Album of The Year. I wrote the first song on the record, “The Tide”, which was one of the first songs I had ever written.