We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Hooper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justin, what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by continual curiosity. My first job out of college was at a private school, and their motto was “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire”. When I write a song, I want it to spark curiosity in the listener. I want to give people permission to dig deeper into big life questions, and to give them permission to be okay not having all of the answers. Also, when I teach music, I want my students to see music as a mystery to be discovered, not just simply notes to be played. Everyone is wired differently, so the way everyone experiences music is different, and it is always a joy to see what ends up making it click for someone.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Word to the wise; if you want an easy go of it, I would recommend not pursuing music as a career. Also, don’t do it to get “rich and famous”, that’s never a good motive. Instead, create because there is something inside of you that says “Whether or not I ever ‘make it’, this is something that needs to be sung.” I never planned on pursuing music as a profession. In fact, I still debate whether or not to stick with it on a regular basis. However, I have learned that when I am honest in my songs about the highs and lows of this life, people seem to resonate with me on a deeper level. A drummer that I used to play with once said “play for the one”, meaning if you go out and play music, and only one person is truly listening and connecting with what you are singing, it is still worth it. In a world where success is seen in numbers (likes, streams, views, followers, etc.), this is eternal wisdom I try to hold on to.
Finally, something that drives me to keep doing music is a still, small voice I received a few years back. My band mate of a previous duo I was in had just quit the same day we had gotten a record deal, my health was failing miserably, and my marriage was on the rocks. I looked up to the night sky and said, “Why is everything going wrong?!” And I heard back “Once you stop making music about you, I will bless it…”. Since then I have repeatedly failed at this mission, but my hope is to keep moving toward using music as a tool to serve others.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First, we would go to Rocky Mountain National park. Second, take in a show at Red Rocks. Third, go to Union Station downtown Denver. Lastly, hit as many microbreweries as possible.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are many many people to thank, but in this shout out I have to give it up to my mom. She was the one who encouraged me to tinker around on the piano, to join choir in High School, and she has always encouraged me to think outside of the box. Both of my parents have been incredibly supportive in the peaks and valleys of this crazy music journey, and now as a new father I am excited to pass on the legacy of letting my child grow into the person he was meant to be.