To open the conversation – and to get an idea of his music taste - I asked Justin to open his digital music library, turn on shuffle and tell me the first three songs that appeared. First was “Rolling Stone” by Passenger, then “Yardbird Suite” from Charlie Parker, and finally “Slacks” by St. South.
And on that note…
LAURA SCHERIAU: How long have you been playing music?
JUSTIN KLUMP: I started playing the piano when I was five and since my whole family was always very musical, with a symphony director in the family, I always had a lot of contact with music. But I wouldn't call myself a pianist. I like string instruments. I started with the guitar when I was 15, after listening to two albums from the Dave Matthews Band. I fell in love and decided to be a musician. I also started writing my own music back then.
You have released three albums out now. How long have you been a full-time musician?
For almost nine years now. After college, I worked for one year and then realized that if I wanted to be a musician I'd have to dedicate all my time and energy to it. And so I did.
How would you describe your style?
I would say it's folk-pop-singer-songwriter music, acoustic-guitar driven. But I also love Jazz, especially Charlie Parker, as you can see from your music shuffle experiment in the beginning.
What inspires you to write new songs?
I draw my inspiration from life, from my family, my experiences. There are certain themes like my marriage, or childhood experiences, personal loss, and other intimate experiences that inspire me to write more. When I am quiet and concentrated, life is my muse.
What value does music have for you?
To write music is a rewarding. Once a song is done, it's a relief, it gives me that feeling of accomplishment. And I feel unlocked. It has a great therapeutic value.
I write more when I'm bothered with something that is going on in my life. Obviously, regardless of how I feel, I have to write. To be successful in music, you have to keep discipline and show up to the page, as I like to say.
What did you feel when you played on a stage in front of a big audience for the first time?
Excitement, mostly. There were 2,200 people at Portland's Zoo Summer Concert Series when I went on stage. Being on the very stage where I had seen so many other great performers in the past gave me a sense of accomplishment… and relief.
Are you planning on touring overseas at some point?
That would be amazing. It was really exciting to hear that my song plays on a UK radio station.
If you weren’t a musician, what would be your career?
I really wanted to be a professional soccer player when I was a kid. But realistically speaking I guess I would have been a history professor, tweed jacket and all.
And what is your favorite song of all time?
“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. It was the first song I played on the guitar, and my dad used to play the whole record when I was a kid. I was rocked to sleep by the album, so it has an emotional value for me.
The Beat, Guitar