Justin Hillman is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and recording engineer from the Berkshire Hills of Western, Massachusetts. Born and raised around campfire song circles, his sound is rooted in folk music with an inclination toward the Avante Garde. Justin's unique, textural acoustic guitar work is reminiscent of Nick Drake. His smokey voice and contemplative lyrics, full of spirit and love, tell tales and teach lessons in a new and refreshing way. He has earned comparisons to Ray Lamontagne and Andrew Bird.
Justin has been writing and recording music with unwavering dedication for nearly a decade. He has been earning credits as a recording engineer and session musician since the age of 16, and at 18 he released his debut album “As The Sun Meets The Moon” (2008).
Today, Justin continues to perform his evocative solo work throughout the Northeast, currently promoting his sophomore album, “Momentous Change” (2012). Sought after on stage and in the studio for his critical ear and aesthetic sensibility, Justin performs and records with artists across many genres, from folk to new age and kirtan music.
Justin Hillman - Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
Momentous Change (2012)
As The Sun Meets The Moon (2008)
Justin Hillman to Perform at Mission (June '12)
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Justin Hillman to Perform at Mission by Seth Rogovoy, The Rogovoy Report Tuesday, June 19, 2012 ...Justin Hillman to Perform at Mission
by Seth Rogovoy, The Rogovoy Report
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Moody folk-rock singer-songwriter Justin Hillman, a native of South Berkshire, performs at Mission Bar + Tapas onSunday, June 24, 2012, at 9pm, as part of the venue’s WordXWordSongwriter’s Room series. Hillman will be performing songs off his most recent recording, Momentous Change.
Hillman’s music is colored by lush acoustic guitar textures, minor-key melodies, complex chord progressions and soothing vocals. His style variously recalls The Band and Ellis Paul. Hillman, who has performed at New York City’s Bitter End, City Winery and Arlene’s Grocery, is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter, recording engineer, and yoga teacher.
In his mid-20s, Hillman, a native of Richmond, has been recording his own music since he was in his late teens. He owns and operates a recording studio called the MicroStudio. Hillman often combines his training as a yoga teacher with his skills as a musician, alone and in a duo format with yoga singer-musician Carrie Grossman.
Journeys In Music (March '12)
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Journeys In Music By Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle Staff Thursday March 29, 2012 Just over four y...Journeys In Music
By Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Thursday March 29, 2012
Just over four years ago, at the age of 19, Justin Hillman entered the dawn of his musical career with the debut of his first album, "As the Sun Meets the Moon."
On Friday, as he celebrates his 23rd birthday, Hillman will revel in the debut of his second album, "Momentous Change." It will be officially released on Friday, April 13, with a performance at the Dream Away Lodge in Becket.
Between albums Hillman, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and recording engineer, traveled from the Berkshires to New York City to India and back again. He said the journeying inspired him to craft a very personal album, from the lyrics to a limited number of discs wrapped in handmade covers.
In the title track to his new album, Hillman sings, "When we were kids out on the ridge/Rolling through dust we would laugh/ With scraped knees through the burdocks wrath. How I wish I could go back."
Here, Hillman tells The Eagle his tales of growing up, going away and returning to record songs that reflect upon it all.
Q:Hi Justin, good to see you again. So, when did you know it was time to do a new album, and how long have you been working on this album's materials?
A:I'm always thinking of the next album. But the songs for "Momentous Change" come from the recent two years, plus some previous materials I had worked on. But during that time, the title's changed and the concepts have changed.
Q:Any particular themes driving yourmusic on this album?
A:Some of them have to do with memories of when I was a kid, but also a lot about being in the moment. One of my favorite songs, "Keys to the Time Machine" is one of my most unique recordings, and also one of the more humorous pieces I've written; the story, about a man who travels time in search of something better, has a twist at the end.
Q:You've been traveling a bit since last we spoke in 2008. Where did you go?
A:In 2009, I left Richmond to go to New York City to study at the IAR (Institute of Audio Research) audio school. I had been recording on my own since high school but there were gaps that I needed to fill. I also wanted to be in New York.
Q:What's made you so interested in recording your own music, instead of having someone else do it?
A: When I was a kid I wrote music, but I wanted to be able to record it, so I started with a tape recorder.
Then it was just a natural progression. I moved on to using a four-track, then learned more from there.
As a musician, you don't have to be an engineer, but if you do record on your own, you're in a better position to create the vision for your music.
Q:Did you play music out and about while recording demos in New York?
A: I played lots of shows in New York, places like The Bitter End, Postcrypt Coffeehouse folk series at Columbia [University], plus a lot of open mics and artist collaboratives. I made a calendar each week of places I could play, and you could literally go a month and play a different place every night if you wanted to.
I learned a lot from the year and a half I was there, but then it became too expensive to live there and record on my own. I didn't want to get stuck on the rent treadmill, so, in fall 2010, I moved back to Richmond, and got into the project of building my studio.
Q:Did you play music while you were back?
A: I hardly played any shows. I did some collaboration with other individual musicians. But when you're on your own, it's hard to manage building a studio, being a songwriter, an artist, an engineer, and being a booking agent doing promotion.
Q:You've often collaborated with other musicians in producing your music. Are there many collaborations on the new album?
A:Yes, I worked with about 16 other performers, and for some sound effects, I had my whole family chanting and stomping on the floors and doing backing vocals and things.
Q:Wow. Sounds like fun. Why orchestrate all tha
A New Face in Folk (Nov '08)
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The Berkshire Eagle by Jenn Smith Thursday, November 20, 2008 Justin Hillman is discovering the...The Berkshire Eagle
by Jenn Smith
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Justin Hillman is discovering the dawn in his life. The 19-year-old Richmond resident released his first album, "As the Sun Meets the Moon," earlier this year and will hold a free CD release party for it next Friday.
In the meantime, he's been experiencing the exultation and exhaustion of booking gigs, creating demos of new work and planning a Gulf and East coast tour with a couple of other fellow singer-songwriters.
Hillman said the new disc has been four years in the making, during which he went from high school jazz band to finishing school early to playing on street corners to building his own studio.
Pretty ambitious for someone who can't legally drink in the bars he plays at.
But from an early age, this lad had his mind made on music and his plans to reach great heights with it. So far, he's had a clear takeoff. And earlier this month, Hillman took the time to sit with The Eagle and reflect in the afterglow:
Q: Of all the things to do in this great big world, why music?
A: It's an obsession.
Q: Did you train to do this? Where did you begin?
A: I studied guitar with Dave Grover (the Big Bear Band man himself). He was the person to ask me if I wanted to do music professionally.In my head, I thought why would I be here if it wasn't what I wanted to do.
Q: Sold, huh? So do you play anything else aside from guitar?
A: The bass was my first instrument thenguitar, only acoustic though. (Note: Hillman's quite the modest one. Inside the new album cover, he's also credited for doing vocals and playing the mandolin,banjo, harmonica, piano bells, percussion and synth.)
Q: You mentioned before that there was a time you were really into punk and grunge rock music, which is way opposite of what you do now.What happened?
A: I'm not sure when I made that polar reversal. I just kind of woke up and was all about playing fingerstyle guitar.
Q: And then you followed in the line of many guitar greats - playing street corners. Any particular place?
A: Well, I grew up in Lee and went to Monument Mountain Regional High School, so I spent a lot of time in Great Barrington.
We used to play right where Tune Street is.
Most of the time, the police were nice about us having a tip jar out.
Q: So is that how you paid for all of your studio equipment?
A: That and landscaping around with my dad. I realized that it would be go to do that now before I had any real responsibilities.
Q: You're young. Is that an issue at all in doing what you do? Do people take you seriously?
A: With booking shows, the whole age thing is a bit strange. But sometimes the age thing makes people more interested in my music.
Q: How would you describe your music to someone?
A: To the average middle-aged person I would say something like James Taylor. With younger listeners I've had people call it neo-folk, new folk, and once someone referred to it as freak folk, though I'm not sure how I feel about that.
But mostly it's music for film and television soundtracks; most likely to be heard on "Grey's Anatomy."
Q: Any place or time or ritual you have in making your music and writing your lyrics?
A: It's usually sitting on my bedroom floor at 2 a.m.
Q: Now when I saw you playing at Mission the other night you were there solo. But the new disc has all sorts of musicians and instruments like drums, trumpet and other strings and vocals. Are these all local folks?
A: Yeah, I got Linda Worster, Tony Carlotto, Eric Martin, Beth Craig, Katie Miller and Meredith LaFrance in on it.
Caleb Davis is a senior now at Monument. He's the first drummer I've ever played with. We started working together in middle school. When I was really young I wanted to be a visual artist. Now, when I think of music it's done texturally.
A lot of it is talked about visually like space, foreground and background. So when I started playing solo I would think, there's a tex
As the Sun Meets the Moon - Album Review ('08)
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Indie Music Stop Artist: Justin Hillman Title: As the Sun Meets the Moon Style: Folk/ Acoustic/ I...Indie Music Stop
Artist: Justin Hillman
Title: As the Sun Meets the Moon
Style: Folk/ Acoustic/ Indie
By L. Anne Carrington
CD Baby describes Justin Hillman's debut album, As the Sun Meets the Moon as "Alternative folk laced with articulate guitar work, lush strings, and a driving rhythm section. Soothing vocals and wise lyrics will draw you in; You can't help but dive down deep."
I am inclined to agree with the above description; have a listen to the album's title track as well as standout tracks such as "A Lullaby," "Anymore," and "A Lion Tamer's Son," among others.
Along with Hillman's unique, rich voice, the guitar work is absolutely soothing and outstanding, the lyric work touching to the listener's soul, and the background rhythm section is one that shouldn't be overlooked.
Most grassroots music projects are either passable or just not that good to begin with, but As the Sun Meets the Moon is a rare exception. Take a listen to all ten tracks on this album, and you will find out exactly what I am discussing. It's a good CD for the folk and acoustic music connoisseur.
Justin is flexible with set times, and typically performs all originals.