Justine Iaboni, the former blogger of the widely popular site JetsetJustine.com is officially leaving her successful blogging business behind to follow her true calling in life: music. Guided by a spiritual awakening, Justine introduces her transformation into STELLINA, an electronic artist and pianist with high soprano vocals recently released her first mixtape STAR SEVENTEEN on November 17, 2017. The mixtape features five tracks including her first single EXTRA SUNNY. Followers and fans can expect music that is upbeat with influences of house, hip-hop, and dancehall while marrying her spiritual sensibility to it. Stellina’s sound has been compared to the likes of artists FKA Twigs and AlunaGeorge. STAR SEVENTEEN is now available on Apple Music and also Spotify.
The mixtape is very experimental and tells the story of Stellina’s creation – finding herself as a musician. Finding her voice once again after all the years of singing only to herself in a quiet room, when no one else was watching. It is raw, vulnerable and full of passion.
We had the amazing opportunity to chat with Justine. Check out the interview below.
Hi, Justine! Thank you for chatting with me about your new venture. I enjoy speaking with those who are pursuing their dreams. This is a very exciting time for you. You’re starting your journey in music. However, you have been singing since you were a child.
Yes, I knew I was supposed to be a singer, and really, a musician overall, before I really knew anything else in the world. My dad is a musician so when other toddlers were playing with stuffed animals, I was on his lap playing with black keys and learning harmonica. I wrote my first song on harmonica when I was 3 years old. It was a blues song. I later took piano, violin, ballet and auditioned for the Toronto Children’s Chorus. I was so influenced by Mariah Carey more than any other singer. Because I didn’t know anyone else at the time who had the same range as me. So, I modeled my singing after her. I also took voice lessons at the RCM in Toronto, as well as learning the Seth Riggs method with Greg Enriquez in Las Vegas in the late 90s, early 2000s.
You ran a popular fashion blog called Jetset Justine, where you shared your global adventures. Tell me about your transformation into Stellina, an electronic artist, and pianist. What was your cathartic moment?
I was unhappy for a very long time. I was living in regret. Every morning I would wake up and think, “I know I’m supposed to be a singer but it’s just too late, and you’re not good enough. It just didn’t work out for you. Maybe next lifetime.” So my entire day was set from the negative, and I’d use everything that would happen to me throughout that day to lift me out of that negative space – and if I had a bad day, well, you can only imagine. I would go deeper into the negative. It really was a vicious cycle. I knew I had to give myself time to heal and introspect and figure out where the heck I wanted to go next with my blogging career because I felt stuck. But I felt like I never had time to unplug, until one day, I just broke down and started screaming. There was a jackhammer going off in the apartment above me and it was sort of like the Universe was plowing into my brain to get me to just surrender. I wasn’t listening, the Universe literally had to hit me over the head for me to hear the call. That was a big moment for me because, in the months that followed, I was able to quiet my mind and dig deep. I started to deal with the fear-based narratives that I was living my life by; I unraveled them. Thus, Stellina was born. But I feel like I have been her my whole life, deep down. Stellina was always here waiting for me to accept her.
Your first mixtape released November 17th. It features five tracks, including your first single “Extra Sunny.” Tell me about the single.
The single is what I like to call a creepy reggae track. It’s about turning the stereotypes about casual sex, upside down. It’s about the girl having all the power to call the shots, and she doesn’t need to catch feelings just because she’s having sex. I rap on the track and it is my fave of the whole album. It’s just a random, weird song and I’m super proud of it.
Recording can be stressful. What do you like to do to unwind?
I do a lot of yoga. Even in between recording sessions like whenever I get a break I’ll just be in downward dog hanging out. I love being on the floor, too, during sessions. It helps to ground me. I love to cook, that is a big stress reliever slash procrastination method lol.
Sometimes when I know I should be working on a song, I’ll have this grand idea to make chicken soup from scratch or something time-consuming. I just know my music is like going into a black hole. Once I’m inside, nothing else matters. So, I try to take care of business around the house and get everyone fed, do the laundry, walk my dog, feed my dog, do the dishes, etc., before I go into the studio because it literally is like going into a void. I also love to meditate and work on my spirituality. I love reading and listening to online lectures. I spend a couple of hours a day studying tarot and ancient spiritual practices. I just find that I work better when I feel aligned with Source energy.
With your singing career taking off, do you think you will return to the fashion world?
I love anything that is an expression of my creative being. It really is no wonder I gravitated towards fashion as a close second to music. Fashion for me has always been about inner expression – whenever I focused too much on trend, it really didn’t feel as fun or as personal. Right now I’m taking a break from fashion, I spend my day in sweats and yoga clothes, and it’s a nice reprieve. I’m sure I’ll be back in couture soon enough. But my feet need a break from all the heels.
What have been some of your best experiences in the music industry?
So far it has just been being able to write songs and not feel like I should be focusing on something else. I’ve had some fun experiences so far like organizing a photo shoot for my album, and getting my premiere on Milk – that was super cool.
If there was anything you could do over again, what would it be and why?
I wouldn’t do anything over again. However, I would have had more faith in myself, more confidence, if I could do it all again. I spent so much time telling myself that I suck, that I’m pathetic, that I’m not good enough. Like what a waste of time. I get angry sometimes when I think of all the social cues that make women adopt such a worldview. We are fed these subtle fables, ideologies, stories, opinions, from birth. And it’s not good. It’s not right. I definitely want to help young teenagers who are considering a career in music or the arts, to find the confidence they need to succeed before they allow someone else to take it away from them like I did.
I love just being myself and being crazy on social media. I meet some of the most amazing people on Instagram. I have 2 or 3 coffee dates a week with all the amazing (usually women) who I interact with on social media. I think it’s important to share your message with like-minded people over social media. But you have to be authentic. I think there is so much pressure out there to be fake and to fit a certain mold. It’s all bullshit in my honest opinion. I used to care so much about my feed and about being like so and so. It made me hate myself and hate Instagram. But now I see things differently. I feel like I just have to be myself and see IG as a loving place where I can truly impact people in a positive way. It’s definitely challenging, but I think it is worth re-evaluating on the daily if your relationship to social media is healthy or causing you pain.
Are you planning to send any exclusive content to your fans?
Absolutely! I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do. I just wanted to get this project out and re-introduce myself to the world as a musician. Because I was already in the public eye, it would’ve been hard for me to just “disappear” lol. I wanted my fans to be part of the transition. And now, I’m literally going to disappear. LOL. I am taking a step back to really work on myself as a musician and delve so deep. I can’t wait for where this journey leads me.
Do you have any upcoming projects that I haven’t mentioned?
Nope. I’m writing a lot lately and working with some other artists and producers in Toronto but nothing super concrete. Like I said, I’m probably going to lay low over the next few months and really nurture my artistic side.
Complete this sentence, if I had an opportunity to do anything I want, I would do ___________.
. . . WORK WITH KAYTRANADA. He is my dream producer.