On his new album Daydreams & Endless Nights (due out June 16), two-time JUNO Award-nominated musician Justin Nozuka adds a bold new dimension to his spellbinding and introspective brand of alt-R&B. With its lushly textured collision of R&B, indie-folk and psychedelic pop, the album centers on the mesmerizing vocal presence he’s brought to the stage throughout his many years of international touring, in addition to showcasing the fearlessly vulnerable songwriting that’s earned him a passionate fanbase dating back to his 2007 full-length debut Holly (an LP created when he was just 16-years-old). In a departure from the folk-infused indie-pop of previous albums like You I Wind Land and Sea (a 2010 release that hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart) and 2018’s Run to Waters, Daydreams & Endless Nights also finds the Toronto-based artist leaning further into a more soulful sound beautifully suited to his captivating vocals and unguarded emotionality. Deeply informed by Nozuka’s recent struggle with insomnia, the result is an immersive and wildly experimental body of work that follows its own otherworldly logic, fully transporting the listener into a more expansive and elevated state of mind.
Since creating his first album at the age of 16, Justin Nozuka has devoted himself to uncovering his truest and most unfettered artistic voice. In the making of his latest album, Daydreams & Endless Nights, the two-time JUNO Award-nominated musician took a major leap forward in undoing any lingering creative inhibitions, adding a bold new dimension to the spellbinding brand of alt-R&B he’s showcased in past hits like 2021’s “Nova” and 2020’s “No One But You” (an acclaimed collaboration with British singer/songwriter Mahalia). Deeply informed by Nozuka’s recent struggle with insomnia, the result is an immersive body of work that follows its own otherworldly logic, fully transporting the listener into a more expansive and elevated state of mind.
Nozuka’s first project since his 2021 EP then, now & again, Daydreams & Endless Nights encompasses a lushly textured yet spacious collision of R&B and indie-folk and psychedelic pop, often favoring the warmth of live instrumentation and analog gear over in-the-box production. As he reveals, the album’s free-flowing quality has much to do with Nozuka’s decision to work with a close-knit community of musicians and producers, including his brother Henry (aka Kingo Halla, a singer/songwriter/producer who’s worked with BadBadNotGood) and producers Dan Only, Chris Yonge, Philip Nozuka, and Duncan Hood. “My process was to throw paint at the canvas and allow the project to tell me what it wanted to be,” says Nozuka. “I’d meet with different friends and collaborators every week and work on building up a bank of music, until eventually I had about 50 songs. Once I looked through those, I realized that the cream of the crop were the songs that were more experimental and not at all overthought, so at that point I told myself, ‘Let’s dive deeper into this world.’”
Although much of Daydreams & Endless Nights explores all the pain and confusion and longing that accompany the end of a relationship, songs like the album’s lead single “444” embody an unbridled joy. Co-produced by Nozuka and Kingo Halla, the track unfolds in a gorgeous convergence of sonic details (delicate piano melodies, cascading guitar lines, fulfilling backbeat) as Nozuka presents a full-hearted expression of carefree infatuation. “I was in a relationship when I wrote that song, and I wanted to capture that feeling of being in love and having no obligations, where everything feels so easy and light,” he says. “Around that time I kept seeing the numbers ‘444’ everywhere, like on the clock and in my dreams, and I took that as a sign that I was on the right path.”
For Nozuka, the making of Daydreams & Endless Nights instilled an entirely new sense of purpose and confidence into his creative process. “It’s so easy to fall into that trap of trying to find the perfect lyrics or the perfect melody or the perfect sound, but a lot of the time you end up with something that feels generic or stiff,” he says. “This album was very eye-opening to me in terms of teaching me to let go and experiment and not be so precious. It taught me to let my instincts guide the way, and because of that I feel a whole new excitement about whatever I might create next.”
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