Music Industry

Getting to Know Maryland-Based Artist, LJR

If you’re a fan of Walk the Moon or The Fray, then you are going to love pop-rock artist, LJR!

His debut single, “I Can’t Say”, takes you on a journey of self-discovery and the challenging process of claiming one’s own identity. “I Can’t Say” is the first of twelve singles that will form LJR’s upcoming debut album, “When The Sky Began to Fall“, serving as a testimony to the last decade of his life, exploring his personal evolution, and his path to becoming the man he is today.

For you all to get to know LJR a little bit more, let me tell you some things about him. One of main things he strives to do with his music is to empower and inspire his audience to live their lives to the fullest. He led worship services at an evangelical mega church Grace Community Church in Maryland. LJR spent his childhood and adolescence dedicated to sharing the word of God, but like many, he faced challenges as he approached adulthood and he made the courageous decision to exit the church. Although it was one of the hardest things he’s ever done, the events that occurred developed him into who he is today, and that has contributed to what fuels his music career.

LJR won fans all around the globe when he opened up for platinum-selling singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson and A Great Big World (let me just go cry to “Say Something”, right now, okay?). LJR wants his listeners to know that they are not alone and encourages them to discover the strength they have within themselves.

LJR is currently preparing to release his twelve track debut album, and he is going to share it with fans, one song at time, beginning April 30 and this is when “I Can’t Say” was released into the world.

I had the honor of interviewing LJR and being able to get a sneak peek into his life and who he is as an artist! Check it out below.

What got you started in music?

My dad had a band when I was a kid for as long as I can remember. We would fall asleep to them playing music and help them carry their gear to almost every show. When my older brother picked up the guitar, I figured I needed to learn something, so at five years old I picked drums thinking it would be the easiest (cause you know, you just hit stuff instead of having to learn all of these complicated fingerings and all that). I fell in love with it, and in about seventh grade I started to try to sing and play piano.

What would you want your fans to know about your debut single, “I Can’t Say”?

Releasing “I Can’t Say” comes at a fascinating time for me. The connection I feel to the lyrics of the song is much deeper to me now than it was even when I wrote the song when I was 19. With most of my songs it’s the opposite because they are more specific to one point in my journey. “I Can’t Say” ended up foreshadowing my 20s, where I lost everything that made me who I was, and I became someone I never thought I would be. For me, the song is a connection with my old self and my new one, bringing a wholeness to my experience, whereas when I wrote it, I only saw a first piece. It’s also a celebration of the person I’ve become through the storm, one whom I am very proud of. In many ways I feel I have woken up, that what was before is now just a dream. I also know there’s much more to learn ahead. I hope that this song helps people to hold onto hope, that while it’s impossible to know what will happen, that somehow things will turn out alright, that “one day we’ll wake up, and this will be a dream.”

How does it feel to have an upcoming debut album?

It feels amazing! I’ve had these songs in my head for ages, and while it’s been really difficult to finish all of the songs and get them right, I couldn’t be more proud of how everything is coming together.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

How much Facebook and IG charge for ads, how much Spotify pays per stream, and how organic reach works on almost every social media platform. I don’t really want to get signed to a label right now; I’d rather stay independent and maintain control over my music career.

Who are you currently listening to? Have they inspired you as an artist? If so, how?

Right now I’m listening to Recent Rumors and One Republic. They haven’t inspired any of my current work, but I’m sure they will in the future. I’ve noticed my songs often have heavy influences from specific artists I love, but with an offset of a year or more from the time I first heard them before I integrate it somehow into my songs. My most direct influences are Peter Gabriel, Coldplay, Hillsong, The 1975, and the X Ambassadors, all of which you will be able to hear notes of on the album.

What’s next for you?

Now that the music is releasing, I’m focused on the 12 video series for this album release. I’m planning on doing one video for each song on the album. The first one is turning out to be really involved, so we will see how that goes! Once the album is done (or even mostly released), it’ll be time to put together a band and tour. Other than that, I’m launching a new crowdfunding app and looking to spend more time with my family and friends.

I know COVID has impacted the industry, and it seems it’s as if that’s what everyone is still talking about. Thankfully we are moving forward, slowly but surely. How did COVID impact you as an artist? Or did it? Was there a positive or negative outcome?

COVID had a huge impact on me as an artist, mainly because I had just started a band and was going to try to play out, but all of that got wrecked of course. This wasn’t a huge deal though, as I had not relied on shows for income: everything was fully online. So I fully focused on finishing my album, and with all the restrictions I ended up having fewer distractions as well, so I got much more done. I was also living with my family during COVID, and with all the increased time spent together we ended up making significant progress on a number of long term issues. This was hugely healing for me and played a major role in finishing the album, especially because I was working closely with my older brother Daniel as the producer. So overall I’d say it was difficult, but good things came from it in the end.

He is just one of three (that’s right, three) artists for this week’s spotlight, stay tuned for more!

Stream, “I Can’t Say“!

I’ll link his socials below so you all can check him out.

Spotify. Apple Music. Instagram. Facebook. TikTok.

By The A&R Guru

Kristi, founder and creator of The A&R Guru, graduated from Belmont University in April of 2021. She earned her BBA in Music Business and a minor in Production. She's passionate about A&R, digital marketing, event management, production, and touring. One of the most important things she wants her audience to know is that talent is everywhere, and as a music industry professional, she is determined to find it.

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