"Sometimes you just have to kinda break ties and start over," Justine Blazer says. "That's what I did, and it's been rewarding." In recent months, the country-pop singer-songwriter has moved from Detroit to Nashville, put together a brand-new band and begun to explore fresh sounds and themes in her music. And Blazer seems primed and ready for a fresh chapter in her career. "I'm at a new place in my life," she says.
The key factor in this whole shake-up was Blazer's relocation to Nashville. Although she's lived most of her life in metro Detroit, Blazer lived in Nashville for a few of her childhood years, and she began making periodic trips back to the city around 2005 to start establishing some contacts. Those regular trips helped lessen the shock when she finally moved at the beginning of this year, but she says Nashville and its music scene are still markedly different from Detroit. "The music scene is alive and happening," Blazer says. "A lot of people are just doing it for the love of it. There's a lot of that in Detroit, but it's a lot more prominent here. Everyone knows each other and everyone supports each other and it's this community kind of thing, where I think Detroit has a more cutthroat aspect to it."
The relocation also helped Blazer move on to some new inspirations in her music. She says many of the songs on her 2010 album Welcome To My World were inspired by a breakup that happened while she was still living in Detroit. But now she says she's enjoying putting some of those songs, and their subject, behind her as she prepares material for a new album. "I'm over it, you know?" she says. "I just packed up and left, and now I'm in Nashville. That was a long time ago." Blazer is enthusiastic about her new material; she's planning to release an initial single this summer, followed by the full album. "It's really this cool, vibey, country sort of sound," she says. "And I haven't done a whole lot of cowriting up until now. So it's really exciting to collaborate with a lot of great writers here in Nashville."
She's also got a fresh set of bandmates to put the new material together with. Blazer says she spent about a month auditioning musicians when she arrived in Nashville, and she's pleased with the results. Unlike her previous lineup, she says everyone in the band is about the same age. "We go out and it's just like it's four people hanging out, playing music and having a good time," she says.
Blazer says her longtime enthusiasm for both music and theatrics set her apart from other entertainers. "It's not just someone standing up there on stage with an acoustic guitar," she says. "It's someone running around the stage, jumping on the bar, getting people clapping their hands. That's what my live shows are and always will be. The difference is I can follow through with real musicality and talent."
It seems Blazer's new lease on life is starting to pay off already, as she's begun touring around with the retooled band. "Over 2,600 people in two days came to see us down in Florida," she says. "Word's getting out and people are coming to shows." And Blazer hasn't forsaken her old stomping grounds. She says she's excited for her upcoming first home game since the move. "I have my new band, I have a ton of new material, it's kind of a whole new show," she says. "The fans that knew me are going to be pleasantly surprised." | RDW
Justine Blazer at the 2nd Annual AVENUE BLOCK PARTY • 5/20, 8 p.m. • Avenue Sports Bar • 3632 Elizabeth St., Wayne • 734.895.7300 • free