Justin Llamas (vocals) and Covinos (producer) are not a band per se’, but more of a collaboration between two brilliant minds, coming together for their new single ‘Melancholy’. Their story is rather unique: the pair met through an online music course last summer, and have yet to meet in person, since Justin lives in California and Covinos is located in Boston. Both with a history of music-making, they join forces to deliver an enchanting slow-tempo jewel, ‘Melancholy’, produced and recorded in their home-studios. Originally born as a piano ballad, it evolved into a pop-flavoured number thanks to Covinos’ contribution. A true statement about how music and art can unite people even far away, creating new unexpected connections. We had the pleasure to sit down with them and find out more about their project. here’s what they told us:
YMX: Hey JUSTIN LLAMAS and COVINOS, thanks for talking to us. How have these gloomy times been treating you?
JUSTIN LLAMAS AND COVINOS: JL: It’s been really rough on me. I’ve lost a lot of work and opportunities this year that was potentially life-changing to my career. But I didn’t let it keep me down. I’ve focused my attention on creating much more music.
C: It’s been challenging at times, but I’ve found ways to keep myself busy and engaged with family and friends. I was making music remotely before covid, so that part hasn’t changed for me.
YMX: How did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue? Are there any particular episodes that inspired you in doing so?
JUSTIN LLAMAS AND COVINOS: C: Music has been a passion of mine since a young age. I started playing guitar at 7, started making beats as a hobby in high school, and began more seriously producing with local artists in college. As I gained more confidence and skill, I realized that music production was something that I could seriously pursue if I took the right approach.
JL: I actually grew up with a passion for illustration–I wanted to be a comic book artist haha. It wasn’t until college when I realized I had a passion for music, and so I started posting covers online. I’d say the online response is what pushed me to pursue a career in music.
YMX: Here’s a fun game: name 3 artists, or bands, that inspire you and influence your work, and explain why:
JUSTIN LLAMAS AND COVINOS: JL: Sam Smith, Lewis Capaldi, and Bruno Mars are just a few of my favorite artists. Their vocal ability, amazing lyrics, and overall production really influence the way I produce and perform today. Great, great artists and songwriters.
C: There are so many artists that inspire me! Tame Impala is one artist that is incredibly inspiring to me because he’s literally an entire band in one person. Decades ago, you’d need a whole team of musicians and studio producers to make the types of tracks he’s able to create now. Flume is another artist that inspires me. I think he has inspired an entire generation of electronic music producers really. What stands out about him is his uniqueness and ability to tap into new styles and sounds that aren’t at all what is on the radio or in the mainstream. Max Martin is also somebody who I admire. There have been so many instances where his name unexpectedly comes up when I do a google search to find the producer of a song I like. I think he’s the most important producer in pop music, and his versatility spanning across decades is just crazy to me.
YMX: You recently released “MELANCHOLY“. Can you tell us how that project came about?
JUSTIN LLAMAS AND COVINOS: C: Justin and I found each other through a music group on Facebook, and he ended up reaching out to me about collaborating. He sent a demo of his over to me, and I created the Melancholy instrumental out of it. The vocals and chords he used in the demo were a really good starting point. He’s super talented and very easy to work with, so the process of creating Melancholy was really smooth and enjoyable.
JL: Ahhh Marc (Covinos) is ever so humble. After I heard some of his previous work, I immediately reached out to collaborate with him. He’s so talented, and I dare say this collaboration has had the most reach out of any of my previous works. I’m honored to have worked with him.
YMX: How did the pandemic affect your personal music recording experience? Was it easy adjusting to working remotely?
JUSTIN LLAMAS AND COVINOS: C: The pandemic hasn’t affected me too much as far as my own music production goes. I’m sure there have been in-person collaborations that have been missed out on because of social distancing, but these days you can really do everything you need to digitally. I have the necessary equipment in my own studio and a good internet connection, that’s all I need.
JL: Agreed! I’ve been making music out of my bedroom for a long time. The pandemic just gave me more time to work, I guess.
YMX: Professional live streams seem to be really taking over these days. Is it something you would consider doing?
JUSTIN LLAMAS AND COVINOS: JL: I’ve actually streamed a bit throughout the pandemic. It’s been a good refresher in online performance. Before COVID struck, I was leading a band and performing pretty often. It’s been nice to go back to my “Internet roots” if you will…even just for a bit!
C: I would consider it if I could get enough people to tune in to a live stream. It’s a great thing to do for an artist with a big fanbase, so I definitely understand why live streaming has become so popular during covid. I don’t think it’s something I’m looking into specifically at the moment, but I would love to try it sometime!
YMX: Since the pandemic began, online music promotion has become crucial for an artist’s growth. How important is that for you, and are there any strategies you are willing to share with our readers?
JUSTIN LLAMAS AND COVINOS: C: I’ve been pretty engaged and focused on online music promotion before the pandemic, since playing live shows was never something that I seriously considered. I think good advice is to just value and engage with every individual fan when you first start out. Collaborating can also be vital to your growth. As Justin and I have seen, having two fan bases come together and having two artists promoting a track instead of just one will always be beneficial.
JL: Yes! I cannot stress how much of a difference this was compared to my other releases. Having two fan bases and two artists come together really helped get our song out there. So for any other indie artists out there, I definitely recommend reaching out and collaborating with others. It can be scary–not everyone is going to be as cool as Marc haha. But you never know what magic connection you might make unless you try. And don’t ever be afraid of a “no.” Shutting yourself down before you’ve even tried is the worst thing you can do. That stranger on the Internet is probably just as cool as you are. 🙂
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?
JUSTIN LLAMAS AND COVINOS: JL: I have quite a few more collaborations in the works, but most features on other peoples’ songs, so I’m not exactly sure if they’re going to make it out in 2020, or early next year. Besides those, I am happy to announce I’m working on a new EP (it will be my third) and it will be a new sound for me, but still aiming for that commercial pop appeal. I’m very excited about 2021! C: Until covid ends, my future will probably look like more of the same from this year. I have a track I’m planning to drop in early December and some more collaborations down the road. Once public gatherings become allowed again, I definitely want to look into playing live and tapping into the performance aspect of being an artist!