NYC leather scene rock-n-roller Justice LaBrave has just dropped a brand new EP… and has an exciting live show in a few weeks! [Cover photo: GDPhotos]
Thotyssey: Hello Justice, Congrats on today’s drop of your new EP! Tell us about HEAT… first off, how long was the process of working on this?
Justice LaBrave: The entire process from pen to paper, concept to mixing and mastering, took about seven months. I’ve been writing music for years–however, the growth and changes experienced throughout the pandemic and mandatory quarantining made for such a unique experience, because I found myself wanting to develop music I hadn’t [previously had] time to develop because of full-time work. And a lot of the music on HEAT consists of newer projects made full by early inspiration. The pandemic allowed me to reset my goals, and redirect myself away from corporate rat race-feeling jobs.
How might you describe these songs, and your music in general, to the uninitiated?
Alternative rock, with passionate power vocals and classic rock tones. I’m a huge rock and roll fan, and it definitely comes through in my music. Yet you’re also going to hear inspiration from other genres, like funk and R&B.
Do you have a favorite song from HEAT?
Currently “Strangers” is my favorite… it was written after realizing I was in a bad relationship for too long. It’s a reminder to stand up for myself… and though it’s healthy to stick it out and make it work, abuse should never, ever be allowed in a relationship of any kind; lover, friend, family. Sometimes its better to walk away after realizing you’ve done all you can, and move on.
“Strangers” was the first song written for the EP. Overall, the theme of the album is a journey to self-healing; “Strangers” is that concept in the most direct form. “Strangers” is for anyone who feels like they’re being taken advantage of, and decide to finally put their foot down! Really, “Strangers” is the song that inspired me to create HEAT.
Where are you from originally, and was music always part of your life growing up?
I’m a New Yorker, through and through–born and raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn. My mom was manager for a Salsa band, and my father was a percussionist in a rival band… which is how they met.
With that said, music was always a part of my life. I used to sing for my mom with her brushes, and we sang together all the time. My mom says my very first performance was sixteen months old–at, like, 3am. I just woke up and started singing baby jabber, but her and my father stared in amazement for about 10 minutes. And then I laid down and went back to sleep. Diva, lol!
When did you start formally performing onstage?
I led a progressive rock band named Mad For Justice for almost seven years. After we parted in 2017, I had taken time off to just produce music before the board, and in January 2020, I had officially decided to hit the stage solo, which was scary… however, the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on! The Bitter End allowed me to grace their stage with a completely new project. Thank you to them for allowing me space to grow musically!
You’re also a celebrated member of the bear / leather community here in queer NYC!
Thank you! I have a motto or mantra, so to speak: “Lead with Love, Expect Nothing, Hope for the Best.” I feel the connections I have in these communities stem from support and a willingness to love–as being a young gay man who always felt different, even from other gay men, used to make me feel insecure. I always knew I had flare, but didn’t know how to express myself.
However, operating in bear and leather spaces have helped me realize… it’s these differences that should be celebrated, and being apart of the bear / leather community has helped me realize that every single thing I’m insecure about should be celebrated, and that I should grow out of my own shell and get out of my own way.
Also through meeting the ONYX family and growing our bonds, I’ve been blessed enough to feel like when we are close in proximity, it’s not just hanging with friends, it’s being with family. I’m so thankful to have shared my experiences with folks in these spaces, because I learn so much and recognize the love.
I met you when you performed at “Completely,” a benefit at Rockbar that Thotyssey co-produced back in August with Jay Saint! That was for Jae W.B., another member of the leather community and an accomplished singer, for her affirming surgeries fund. That was such a beautiful night!
Yeah! I had the honor of being on a star-studded lineup on such a great evening, and for a great cause–to help someone who’s been like family to me over the years. She has performed all over NYC… and if you haven’t seen her, it’s a must! Jae is always so sweet and willing to help, it was a no-brainer when asked to perform that night. There was so much talent on stage; it was great for everyone to come together!
Mr. Eagle is this weekend! Will you attend? And, do you have any desire to enter a leather contest yourself?
I most definitely will be attending. At the moment, I don’t have aspirations to run… but I could definitely see myself running [for a competition] in the future! If I do, it will probably be for a smaller title, as I do understand the prestige of being Mr. Eagle. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing a few, and in particular John-John–my best friend, Mr. Eagle 2017!
Until your ultimate contest debut happens, folks can see you back on stage when you return to The Bitter End on Friday, October 15 at 8pm! What can we expect from this show?
Food, drinks, raffles and live music! The setlist will include music from HEAT, as well as premiering the follow-up singles that have yet to be announced! We’re doing a merch raffle giveaway, featuring two custom LaBrave merch bags. There’s a full bar with waitstaff ready to help you get that beverage or hot plate from the kitchen window! And table reservations are available to make picking out you table super easy, just reserve your ticket and mark your calendar!
Sounds like a “can’t miss” event! Anything else coming up for you, or anything in particular you wanna mention or discuss, before I ask the closer?
Follow @justicelabrave on all social medias. Gigs are to follow, as well as collaboration news! I have more music in the works as we speak!
We’ll be on the lookout: and finally… what are you going to be for Halloween this year?
Oh great question! this year I can finally do Dracula; I just ordered my vampire teeth!
Chomp! Thanks, Justice!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Justice Labrave’s upcoming appearances, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Also, stream his music on multiple platforms.