Well, hello! Let's start off by telling everyone a little bit about your background. Were you born on a warm spring day or a harsh, cold one? Haha. No, seriously, where did you grow up, what things are you involved in outside of music and how did music become something you wanted to actively pursue?
JM: [I] was born in a little town in Arizona called Chandler. Besides being a musician, I work in the medical field; I am a caregiver. I also raise my brother, who I adopted when I turned 18. I had a tough childhood; we didn't have much. [Also,] My grandma, who raised me, worked a lot, so that really forced me to be creative and that is how I fell in love with music...buying my first Michael Jackson album (i.e. Thriller)...made me want to sing and write. I was obsessed. Everything about Michael's music was alluring to me, so I literally spent night and day trying to learn everything; from his dance moves, to the way he sang.
You have 3 full albums available for download on Bandcamp.com; the oldest was released last year. Did you produce all of them by yourself? If not, who else did you collaborate with? What resources did you use to complete the projects?
JM: I have written and produced every album. Some of the instrumentals are collaborations with a beat maker named DJSSR, who I have been working with since my first album. I started recording out of my bedroom in 2008, and released a string of horribly produced songs that I have erased from existence, haha. The 3 albums that are available...I'm pretty proud of them. I have grown lyrically and vocally. I'm completely self taught: no vocal or writing lessons, and the production has been learned pretty much through trial and error.
What's the concept of and story behind Not the Boy Next Door? Which song is your favorite?
JM: The concept is simply that I was tired of being put in the "R&B box." I literally would get comments about how I sounded like this or that R&B singer. Don't get me wrong; I really love R&B, but I also love other genres and really wanted to experiment. I wanted to make an album that was a little bit different and incorporated pop/dance elements, but still had the R&B that my supporters like. So, the title was my way of saying "Hey, I'm not just that R&B guy and I have more to offer than a couple of sappy break up songs." My favorite song is probably the darkest song I did this go round called "Battle Wounds."
JM: Writing for me is the most important part of being an artist. I take it really seriously. I write only about things I have been through or have seen personally; usually a song starts from a memory. I love to write about love and heartbreak. I often joke that I'm the male Taylor Swift, because if I have dated you, there is definitely a song about you, haha. I'm proud of my songwriting and it really gets me through life.
What artists and genres do you primarily listen to? Who do you claim as an influence?
JM: I am a lover of all types of music. My playlists consist of everything, from classic rock to gospel. There are 2 things that matter to me though when listening to an artist, and that's vocal talent and lyrical content; I have to feel the song. So, I listen to a lot of the divas, [like] Mariah [Carey], Celine [Dion] and Whitney [Houston]. My biggest influence would have to be Michael Jackson. I may not sound like him, but he's the first artist I fell in love with.
What do you dislike about contemporary R&B/pop and how do you plan to counter it with your own work?
JM: My biggest issue with contemporary R&B/pop is that there is a lack of substance right now. R&B is making a comeback, and that's amazing, but the subject matter is all the same. It's like you have to be talking about turning up in a club to make it on the radio these days. I want my music to be different. I want to be able to talk about real issues; love [and] heartbreak. Things that real people go through.
What are your ultimate goals as an artist? What do you hope to accomplish?
JM: Besides the obvious (ex. Grammy's, top selling albums) My ultimate goal is honestly just to be heard. For me, there is nothing more gratifying than when someone writes me and says they love the music. Money and fame would be amazing, obviously, but for me it's about the recognition. I take my music very seriously and do almost everything on my own. I just want my music to reach an audience.
Why should people listen to your music?
JM: I feel people should listen to my music because I can offer something a little different. The Fetty Waps of the world are great, but there is music with substance out there still and I'd like to think that I'm one of those artists.
To hear and download Not the Boy Next Door and Junior's previous albums, click here. You can find him on Twitter at @_KingJr__