JJ McGuigan Interview - 'Dissociative'
News has broken that Wichita, KS alternative rock singer-songwriter JJ McGuigan has signed with the acclaimed firm, MTS Management Group. JJ is a VH1 "Save the Music" Songwriting Contest finalist and an advocate for mental health awareness. With so much stigma around mental health issues, it is truly an honor to be able to interview an artist who has so much insight and healing to offer through his music. Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing JJ about his new EP ‘Dissociative.” Can you share a little of your life story with our readers. I understand you were diagnosed at the age of 16 with OCD and Depression. How did you get from that diagnosis to being a major advocate, through music, for mental health awareness?
Life was definitely rough for a few years from being diagnosed, to eventually being in a place of strength to overcome it day by day, and trying to achieve my music dreams. It was a learning process that eventually I knew it was my part in being an advocate for mental health that would go hand in hand with music. Being able to express myself artistically gave me strength and space to breath and hopefully shine a light wherever I can. In listening to your songs, I can hear how you shine a light for others. How is the title ‘Dissociative’ significant? What does that word shine a light on?
Dissociative stems from the feelings of detachment and disconnect that came with the mental illness. That’s what dissociative means basically, it’s like being cut off from yourself. I am amazed at your ability to capture how it feels to go through periods of dissociation and at your ability to honestly and openly share it through music. One song that comes to mind is the first song on your EP “Home.” It is hauntingly emotional. You sing the lyrics “Home sounds like a nice idea to me.” Can you talk about the meaning of this song?
It’s a search for a sense of belonging and comfort that we all crave at a deep level. We find it in life through various means and in certain pockets here and there. So it’s a familiar feeling to everyone but we don’t always have it, so it’s about the search for it. The song “Forces I Can Not See” is also very powerful. It seems to describe the struggle and cycle of having a “breakdown.” Can you describe what forces influence your music the most? Self reflection and reflection on life in general fuel my songwriting. Sometimes it can be positive other times dangerous, but it always produces something to write about. I like that you don't shy away from the dangerous or the controversial. I love the song “Letter” by the way. What do you think is the main message you are trying to convey through your music? A sense that we all want to be understood in a world we don’t understand would be the main message. We are looking for answers. We are on this planet without any exact rule book on what to do so we have to learn and grow as we live. Finding the beauty in the abstract more so than in the concrete I think. I like that you examine the abstract. It makes your music interesting. When you write your music, how does that process work for you? Do you start with an idea, with lyrics, with the track? All of the above. Sometimes just a single line pops into my head and I know I have a song from it. Other times I just sit down and clear my head to create room for the ideas to flow in, and they could be anything. To date, what has been your best experience as a performing artist? I would say at a showcase in Nashville I was invited to in front of a few hundred people. Awesome. Nashville is a great town for emerging artists. So, what is coming up next on your music career radar? I’m in the process of making another 5 song EP with Brian Elwick. After that we may hit the road with our songs and just see what happens. I would like to land a publishing deal though and see how far my songs can go! Sounds like you are off to a great start. I'm looking forward to the next EP. Where can fans purchase your EP/CD? iTunes or Amazon or any other online retailer will carry it. You can also go to my website at jjmcguiganmusic.com and download from there. Is there anything else you would like to add? Feel free to give any type of background or story information that you think our readers would enjoy hearing about.
Don’t be afraid of your dreams! And don’t be afraid to ask for help and that goes with anything. Especially something you care about and your mental and emotional health. With the holidays around the corner, JJ is right - take the time to care for yourself and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Follow your dreams and pick up JJ McGuigan's new EP for inspiration!