Wichita, KS alternative rock singer-songwriter JJ McGuigan has signed with MTS Management Group for promotion of his latest EP, “Dissociative.” JJ is a VH1 “Save The Music” Songwriting Contest Finalist and an advocate for mental health awareness. JJ McGuigan was diagnosed with OCD and Depression at age 16. He has since used his experiences and his music to become an advocate for mental health awareness: “I have been on a journey of self-discovery and learning ever since I was diagnosed at age 16,” says McGuigan. “I am constantly trying to find new ways of, not only helping myself to heal each day, but trying to see if I can help someone else, as well. Music plays a big part in doing both, I believe.”
A drummer since age 13, McGuigan later picked up the guitar and began writing songs at age 20. He attended Newman University and renowned recording school, Full Sail University. Songwriting has now become JJ’s main focus and passion, with an emphasis on lyrical creation. After a brief stint in Austin, Texas, he has returned to his hometown of Wichita.
When did you decide to take music seriously and how did you go about getting started?
JJ McGuigan: I decided to start taking music seriously at age 22 but it all started around 19 when I got my first guitar and started playing.
Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
JJ McGuigan: Bands like Live, Creed, Cold, Staind, any rock band that expressed a lot of emotion that reached me.
Which artists are you currently listening to?
JJ McGuigan: I listen to a lot of Breaking Benjamin and still the bands that influenced me in the beginning
Have you ever had any formal training or are you completely self-taught?
JJ McGuigan: I did actually take guitar lessons for a couple of years starting at 19, as far as songwriting goes that I just picked up on my own.
Which instrument do you play and normally use in your songwriting?
JJ McGuigan: Guitar but am learning the keyboard now and am starting to use that.
How do you choose and link up with singersto collaborate on your songs?
JJ McGuigan: I just take a listen to what they have and see if it matches the emotion of the song. Mainly through word of mouth these days is how I will find them.
Do you write both lyrics and music to your songs, or do you collaborate with other creative writers?
JJ McGuigan: In the past I would write the lyrics and acoustic guitar parts in a singer songwriter style, then collaborate with people like Garrett Crow to create the full band versions. Now I am collaborating with Brian Elwick and we don’t really have a set formula. I mostly handle lyrics and he does guitar and melody but we are free to do whatever to make the songs great, no definitive roles.
Tell us something about how the production of your releases. Do you rely on outside sources or is it a totally DIY project?
JJ McGuigan: I rely on outside sources for the full band production process.
Are your songs focused more on personal real life experiences or imaginary concepts and thoughts?
JJ McGuigan: Focused more on personal and real life stuff but definitely like to use some imaginary concepts or abstract ones.
If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to be a part of the music business?
JJ McGuigan: Feeling of being connected
How do you market and manage your music career? Do you have a management team or do you organize and control everything by yourself?
JJ McGuigan: MTS management with Michael Stover is who does PR and management and they are terrific!
You were a finalist on VH1 “Save The Music.” How did that come about and what did you learn from the experience?
JJ McGuigan: I entered the contest online and my song ‘Rain’ made It through to the final judges panel where it was a finalist just behind the winner. The biggest thing that came about from it was the confidence and esteem that I am on the right track.
What was your experience like at Sail University? And what benefits do you think you will reap from it?
JJ McGuigan: I took the courses online in the Masters of Entertainment Business Program. I learned a lot of concepts and what the business is really like and how to go about playing the game.
If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
JJ McGuigan: The sound can fluctuate form easy listening to a bit heavier. I would say it’s emotional and relatable.
Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
JJ McGuigan: I think for the vast majority of musicians the internet is a must. It’s a great platform to present your material and actually get feedback from strangers. Personally it’s played a big role in my career and I’m very grateful for it in the exposure and people I’ve met.
At age 16 you were diagnosed with OCD and Depression. Has writing music in any way been comforting to you or salutary with regards to your disorder?
JJ McGuigan: yes it has very much so. It’s literally been life saving for me in being able to express my emotions and thoughts in musical form.
While writing your songs do you at any time imagine a major label artist singing them? And if yes, who most of all, would you like to collaborate with on any one of your songs?
JJ McGuigan: Yes I do imagine that a lot. I would say the main artists I do that with are Ben Burnley of Breaking Benjamin, Scooter Ward of Cold.
From here on out, which goals – small or big – have you set for yourself, both artistically and on a personal level?
JJ McGuigan: The main goal artistically is to sign to a major publishing deal and have major label type artists perform my songs. Personally I would like to just expand and keep learning new life lessons.