Moments in the Making with Justine Giles

It's Okay to Simply... Be Where You Are

All Photos by J. Edmund Photography


Most artists know from a young age that music is in their veins. It’s in the way they move, what they enjoy, their behaviour and all the rest. This inherit ability might not be something they are consciously aware of until much older though.


When it comes to Justine Giles, born in Sudbury, Ontario, she realized and knew there was something musical inside her at a young age. She grew up watching her own father, Craig, perform at live events and her interest kept growing.


The Musical Child

Giles remembers walking around and signing all the time when she was little. Her dad, who played a lot of country and rock music, was a major influence. She mentions Alanis Morrisette and Cheryl Crow as two powerful women she was also heavily influenced by, even though she didn’t truly understand the words until she was much older.


Her interest continued into elementary school, where several teachers recognized her love of singing and allowed her to perform for and with classes.


“We did a lot of theatre productions,” she says. “I think the first time I was kind of given the opportunity to do a solo would be grade three. I had a teacher who was really into theatre so we did a lot of productions. That was really significant for me.”


By the time high school came around, Giles was ready to pick up an instrument and begin song-writing. Though she notes, the original purpose of starting to learn guitar and ukulele was to help her create songs.


Giles was already writing a great deal of poetry before attempting to write lyrics, and she mostly wanted to be a singer and song-writer. Thus, by picking up instruments, she says she could blend the two worlds together harmoniously.


During Giles’ teen years of exploring her musical interests, she was influenced by folk and pop artists for the most part. Those styles became the ones she was naturally inclined to delve into, and it “stuck” with her until recently.


“I think my sound has evolved and I think I’m just getting to the point where I’m getting my own unique sound figured out,” she says. “It’s hard when you’re young not to be influenced by so many different people.”


Creating the Artist

In 2014, Giles released her first single, We’ve Got a Light, which ended up on her first album, Shine, later that year. Both were fully self-produced and developed in Sudbury. At that stage, she was just doing her own thing and didn’t worry too much about the business or industry itself. Giles points out that her small steps were necessary as she became the local singer-song-writer who was gigging on a daily basis. She simply wanted to explore that world.


She recorded with her dad and his fellow musicians, who also provided the studio space in a little area just outside of Lively (a small trek outside Sudbury). It took a little over a year to complete and release the first album.

“I think it was a really cool collaboration for me,” she says of the experience.


She also says at the time it was a little out of her comfort zone to be performing and collaborating with other people. Giles had predominantly worked solo up to that point, so it was a bit of a different world. Though looking back, she believes it was a fantastic way to bond with her father.


Giles left the city of Sudbury a few years later and landed in Toronto where she released a few singles that were more on the “pop” style.


However, the breakdown of a personal and business relationship led her to question why she wanted to be a musician in the first place and ended up leaving her creative tank empty for the next few years.


“Taking time out was really important to me,” she says. “I feel like in this industry it’s looked down on. If you’re not releasing yearly or every six months, you’re not relevant. But I also think it was necessary to go through all of that…”


She further states the music industry can be difficult to navigate, but it’s important to sometimes go through difficulties so that people can remember who they are. Giles explains that’s what happened to her and while life can be difficult to handle it’s vital to go through life with experiences (good and bad).


Into Her Own

It would take moving across the country for her to find some serious healing and introspection, which allowed Giles to reset her creative spark. She arrived in Calgary, Alberta just before the pandemic struck (2019), but has soared in the music industry there. Between 2020 and 2021, Giles not only appeared on the Marilyn Dennis Show but has earned a few awards as well:

· Jim Beam’s Talent Search: Regional Winner (2020)

· Jim Beam’s Talent Search: National Finalist (2020)

· ATCO’s “Our Comeback” Grand Prize Winner (2021)

· Music Mile Songwriting Contest: Second Place Winner (2021)


After competing in the Jim Beam’s Talent Search (during Canadian Music Week), Giles found herself recording a song and developing a music video at the National Music Center. She says the experience was extremely special but also really cool being able to do this during the world’s chaos. She describes having camera crews from Montreal and Toronto help create the masterpiece.

“We got to work with a producer and it made us feel like rockstars,” Giles laughs heartily.


She officially got back into the recording studio in 2021 and has been developing new music with her vast well of creativity, new knowledge of the industry, and working alongside a new producer. So, while the pandemic is still going on, 2022 will at least be interesting musically!


Giles is planning on releasing one of two singles, Save Myself, in the spring. The second single, and few other tidbits of fun, will be coming out later on in the year.


She says that it’s important to take one’s time and to not rush the process, saying, “you need to be okay with being where you are. You can’t force something else; you have to be where you are on your path and then keep progressing.”


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