Singer, Songwriter, Actor, Director
If you had to label singer/multi-instrumentalist Justin Lanning with just one word, it’d be “positive.” It is his indomitable spirit that defines him and his music. Justin is not just confident about his future and the effect that music can have on people’s lives; he’s so self-assured that it is absolutely infectious. This optimistic spirit permeates his debut CD Behind These Eyes. Behind These Eyes references many of the twenty-one year-old Lanning’s idols: the glossy, power-pop sheen of Bryan Adams; the storytelling prowess of Billy Joel; the classic harmonic sophistication of the Beatles and the Beach Boys; the youthful exuberance of James Blunt; and the energy of blink-182. But like those musical heroes, Justin is his own man, and his personal songs come from a deep emotional well that is unique to him.
“Take My Breath Away” perfectly captures the innocence of finding a new love and the overwhelming allure of female beauty. More universal issues are tackled on debut single “Voices,” where Lanning takes the listener along his search for meaning in the cosmos, highlighting the depth of his spiritual consciousness as the simple melody gradually builds to a multilayered peak centered on an urgent guitar riff. The album’s title track encapsulates Lanning’s uplifting message of self-esteem, personal growth and championing your inner child.
But don’t mistake Lanning’s honesty and positive vibes as inexperienced or unsophisticated. Los Angeles born and bred, Lanning exudes ‘California cool,’ and while his speech is peppered with new age aphorisms like references to spirit guides and light healing, he is a shrewd businessman in full control of his career and destiny.
Self-taught from a young age on a variety of instruments, including guitar, piano, bass and drums, Lanning not only writes and performs his songs but also owns the publishing rights and masters and acted as his own A&R rep. Lanning even co-produced two tracks along with seasoned veteran Jeff Bova (Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Joe Cocker) and acted as financial backer for his upcoming album, which features additional songs produced by Steven Miller (Dave Matthews Band, Pink, Mandy Moore) and will be released on Lanning’s own King George Records with promotion and distribution through Mesa/Bluemoon Recordings. King George Records is “named after my father,” says Lanning, “for his loving support when I was a young kid, paying for acting classes and driving me to auditions... which, essentially, gave me the jobs that helped to fund my record!”
While finishing the recording of his self-financed debut release "Behind These Eyes," Lanning came up short on funds for laying down a few additional vocal tracks. Rather than leaving the record as simply “good enough,“ he took his Chevy Trailblazer to the pawn shop, and 15 minutes later walked out with just enough cash to finish the tracks. When asked about what he’s going do for a car, Lanning joked, “I’ll just drive my Mom’s for a while or I’ll sell a bunch of CDs.” While he might have to borrow a car for the time being, he is satisfied that his creative vision has been fully realized.
Betting his car on his future was a calculated risk for any performer, but Lanning is insistent on maintaining full creative control. The young singer/songwriter puts so much of his heart and soul into the music that he is unwilling to let anyone else water it down. Lanning turned down lucrative offers from several major labels in favor of establishing his own independent label.
Lanning sees himself as a multi-media artist as well. A visit to his MySpace highlights the various episodes of “Justin’s World,” webisodes that feature the life and times of the enthusiastic sprit of Lanning as he heads through a variety of Left Coast adventures. “Justin’s World” has already gathered a cult following, with tens of thousands of viewers watching each and every episode.
To the delight of those online fans, Lanning plans to take his live show on the road in the spring. His electrifying presence on stage is bolstered by his experience as an actor with over 20 commercials and TV shows to his credit, including winning MTV’s “Score” with Ryan Cabrera and a recent role as a murderer on “CSI: Las Vegas.”
Looking towards the future, Lanning is supremely optimistic. He’s made a record that he loves; he has a single shipping to radio; he’s assembled a crack band of players for an upcoming tour in the spring; and surrounded himself with a business team consisting of industry insiders who he now considers friends.
Can you think of any better reason to be happy?