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Underground Spotlight: Staten

Photo+Credit%3A+Karl+Fernandez
Photo Credit: Karl Fernandez

Photo Credit: Karl Fernandez

Photo Credit: Karl Fernandez

Shannon Christensen, Writer

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Being an aspiring artist on the East Coast can be difficult, but also full of possibilities. Many musicians in North Jersey have the option of going to NYC for recording and promotion opportunities, while others find comfort in mixing and producing their music in their home state, New Jersey.

Justin Fernandez is an upcoming singer/songwriter from Rahway, New Jersey better known as his stage persona, Staten. Fernandez started learning the bass guitar when he was only eight years old, he says it was due to the fact that him and his brother “wanted to be like Blink 182.” After learning bass, he continued in music by learning several instruments such as guitar, piano, and the drums, giving him a gateway to making his own music. Fernandez started writing songs around the age of 14, with various influences of different genres such as Drake, Elliott Smith, and Taylor Swift.

Describing his music as “mixing indie/rock music with pop and hip hop,” Fernandez has written and released two full-length albums (“Saint” and “The Unbroken Spirit of Myself“) and various EP’s and singles such as a split EP with local New Jersey band, Halogens. Since learning audio engineering, he writes, produces, and masters all of his own music himself, taking great pride in the independent style.

Staten’s new album “The Unbroken Spirit of Myself” was released in late February this year and earned great reception from his fans. While talking about his newest release, Fernandez clarifies, “TUSOM wasn’t actually supposed to be an album. It was a code name for my newest album but my label and I agreed we should release it as a ‘mixtape’, sort of as a bridge between my last album (Saint) and my next album.” The album consists of two discs with ten songs on each including his more popular songs “Polar” and “Firefly.” It was explained that the title of the record actually came from a Charles Bukowski poem. “He didn’t say the unbroken spirit of myself but there’s a poem where he explains he ‘lost it’. He never explains what ‘it’ is but like me, I lost something in myself that changed me,” he states.

Behind the upbeat feeling of most of the album, Fernandez reveals some of the personal influences that went into the songs. “Right after I finished my second LP, I felt so empty and depressed and anxious for the past year. I didn’t feel like myself and I felt like I lost something inside of me that made me myself.” Explaining more about the title of the album, he adds, “I feel as if my ‘it’ is the spirit of myself, that I am still me, but I have to find it.” The Unbroken Spirit of Myself has lyrics that all revolve around the same theme of searching for something. Going further into that theory, Fernandez states, “In most of my songs I sing about a newfound paranoia that has developed and I question whether it’s really me or if it’s just the other version of me, the broken part of me.” After sharing this, Fernandez does give an update to his personal life, saying that his mental health, anxiety and depression, has gotten better since just starting the album in September of 2016.

Staten’s music is not only filled with personal life issues that people can relate to, but also features a unique sound in every song. From hip-hop and rap to rock to a slow pop song that ends with a recording of Bukowski himself, Staten’s music never disappoints to reach out to all music crowds and includes everyone in his records.

You can listen to his new record, along with other releases, on Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp, or Youtube!

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The student news site of New Milford High School, New Milford, New Jersey
Underground Spotlight: Staten