By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Justin Hogg is a familiar face in Morinville’s music scene, having performed frequently at school and community events for a number of years. But the 20-year-old singer / songwriter’s dedication to his craft is taking him to new gigs and new opportunities outside the community. In the past six months Hogg has opened for two major country music artists. He’s hoping to one day enjoy the same success as those he has opened for.
“I’m really looking at going commercial with my music and bringing it to the radio and promoting it that way,” Hogg said, adding he would love to have more people hear his music. “It’s just expanding, really. Taking bigger steps in my career.”
That career started eight years ago. Hogg’s earliest musical memories are of singing with his father, but it was when his mother bought him a guitar when he was 12 that he really got interested. Two years later the then 14-year-old musician began playing live. Eventually he started writing his own music and it was in writing songs that Hogg really found a way to express himself. He has never stopped working on his music.
A construction worker by day, Hogg’s main objective in life is to be a professional musician. He describes his original music as country without the twang, something akin to southern rock. He’s performed that sound at several bigger venues in and out of town this year, took fourth place in a competition in Parkland County, and has opened for Charlie Major at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre this spring and for Jake Matthews this past weekend.
Recording his own music
The next chapter of Hogg’s dream includes finishing an album of original music he began recording at Smith Music Studios a year ago. That process got off track a bit as Hogg waited for some surgery that would ultimately help with his singing A few weeks ago Hogg went under the knife to remove nasal polyps and to fix a deviated septum.
“My nasal passages were messed up,” he said, adding his voice has really benefited from the surgery. “I can breathe better when I’m singing. I find my voice to be a lot clearer. I can hear myself better. I find I’m learning new things about my voice because I can breathe when I sing. Before my surgery I could never really sing with my falsetto voice. Everybody I know who sings can do it and it really bother me that I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Now that I can breathe, it is starting to come, and I guess that was just the answer to my problem. I couldn’t breathe.”
The CD will still take several months of recording time to get the all-original tracks laid down just right. Hogg said he is hoping to play most of the parts on the album himself rather than using session musicians.
“[Country singer] Hunter Hayes kind of inspired me to do it because when I heard his album I then found out he wrote all the parts to it,” Hogg said. That album is him – nobody else wrote any of it. He felt every note in the entire album. I think it would be so cool to have an album that is entirely me, that I put my entire soul into and worked my butt off for it.”
Hard work has never been a problem for Hogg. The musician said it is not uncommon for him to spend eight hours a day working on his music, usually after a full day working as a contractor. “I really don’t look at it as work,” he said. “A lot of people say if you want to be a professional musician you’ve got to play eight hours a day and you’ve got to be able to perform for five hours straight. The practicing eight hours a day part doesn’t scare me at all because I do that most days. I just come home from work and I go to work on my music. I’m never at a stand still with it instrumental wise because I can never know every part of every instrument. There’s always something to learn.”
The musician said he is grateful for the support his parents, friends and community have shown him as he has worked to become a professional musician. “My family is great for support and my friends are just as good,” Hogg said. “They treat me like my family when it comes to that.”