Justin Warren is a Raleigh, NC-based singer / songwriter and worship leader who has just signed to Radiate Music. Working alongside GRAMMY-nominated producer Ian Eskelin, and labelmate, JJ Weeks, Justin releases his new single 'All Things Well' at the end of September. Louder Than The Music chatted with this exciting new artist to find out what inspires Justin's music, what it's like working with these esteemed industry colleagues, and what music he enjoys listening to.
Hi Justin, for those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?
Hey thanks for having me for this interview. It is an honor to speak with you. On September 29th my beautiful wife Laura and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage. We have two awesome boys Luke (11) and Liam (7). I first felt God calling me towards music as a 6th grader at my church's summer camp. All I wanted to do at the time was play drums. I didn't pick up a guitar or begin singing until my junior year of high school. From there the Lord has opened doors and has allowed me to make music for a living.
You have a new single coming out later this month - what was the inspiration behind that?
I started writing “All Things Well” during a difficult season. One of my best friends' father was diagnosed with cancer. We prayed and prayed for healing, but ultimately the Lord’s plan was to take him to glory. The song was originally filled with asking God a lot of questions. I struggled writing the song for a long time because I knew at the end of all the questions, I wanted to end the chorus by somehow expressing that even though our prayers weren’t answered as we had hoped that God is still good and we can trust Him.
After a couple of months of wrestling with this song my dad sent me a sermon to listen to. The pastor's main scripture was Mark 7:37: “And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.’” He talked about how we may not understand why certain things happen on this side of eternity, but one day our faith will be made sight, and we will be able to see in full that God does do all things well. I knew immediately that was what I had been looking for to finish my song. I played the song for Ian Eskelin and JJ Weeks during a songwriting session. We took it, and the three of us recrafted it into a song that I am so excited to share with the world. In good times and hard times we can praise Him, we can trust him. He does all things well!
How did the co-write with JJ Weeks come about, and what was it like writing with him?
I am blessed and thankful to call JJ a good friend. He has been so kind to me and has been a mentor to me. He has been gracious enough to let me open up for him on the road as well. We had always talked about writing together and I am so thankful we finally were able to make that happen. Writing with him was a great experience. We actually wrote two songs in one session which was great. It’s always a blessing to write with great songwriters. It obviously helps you write great songs but it also helps you become a better songwriter yourself.
You've just signed with Radiate Music - it must be great to work with the likes of Ian Eskelin at that label, what are your hopes for your partnership with them?
Getting to work with Ian is such an incredible opportunity. He is so talented and gifted and I am honored, humbled and thankful. I am so thankful to be a part of the Radiate Music family. My hopes are that we make great songs that make much of Jesus and spread His fame and glory across the world.
Do you have any plans in place to release further music in the future?
Our plan is to release an EP at the start of the new year.
What message would you like people to take from your music?
That no matter what they might be going through, God is greater! We have hope because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us.
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
I would describe my style as pop/rock. I grew up listening to Christian music. I loved DC Talk and Newsboys along with several others. When I first started writing my own songs, artists like Chris Tomlin and Jeremy Camp had a big influence on me. My favorite band of all time is Switchfoot.
If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?
Jon Foreman. I love the songs he writes for Switchfoot, but I also love his solo albums as well. I think he is a gifted songwriter. Chris Tomlin would also be amazing to write with. God has used his songs in the Church in such a powerful way. It would be an honor to write with him. I also think writing a song with Ben Rector would be great because he is so good at writing fun songs.
How would you define success in your career as an artist?
I always want to remember that it’s simply by the grace of God that I am able to do any of this. I of course have hopes and dreams. I would love to play Red Rocks or to have a number one song on the radio. At the end of the day God has already given me more than I deserve and I want to do my best to be thankful for that.
What is your favorite album of all time?
That is a really tough question, but probably Vice Verses by Switchfoot