The music industry is built around forward momentum, a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of business. Justin Soileau, however, has taken the long road. Born in Lumberton, deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas, Soileau started playing music as a kid and developed a love for songwriting in high school. But hard-living took him to some dark places. In 2010, Soileau moved to Orange County to undertake a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, an intensive process that took up most of his year and left him emotionally and creatively empty. He started to take tentative stabs back into music in 2011, and he realized that it was the perfect remedy. “I guess through experimenting I found out that I was kind of good at it and it was a form of therapy for me,” Soileau told KROQ in Los Angeles. “It makes me feel better I guess.”
The songwriter soon started recording his debut album in his home with the help of producer Martin Beal and a number of Southern California musicians. His self-titled debut came out last year, earning nods from MTV and radio stations across the Pacific coast. Soon after the release, Soileau moved back to Texas and now makes his home in Austin. He recently competed in KUTX’s Stage To Studio contest, and although he didn’t win, we found his songs arresting nonetheless. “I’d Never Lie To You,” recorded live at KUTX, was written when Soileau was still in high school. He’s taken a winding path from Lumberton, but that sits just right with him.
You can catch more of Soileau when he kicks off the Folk of July Fest at the Scoot Inn on Saturday, July 6.