Of all the stories that exemplify how fast things move in the music indsutry today, Juice WRLD's is one of the most impressive. Just six months ago, the 19-year-old from the suburbs of Chicago was relatively unknown. He had been releasing music on SoundCloud for a couple of years, but in the past six months things escalated quickly. Juice WRLD honed his craft, made the most out of trips to LA and NYC, and in a matter of months his songs started racking up hundreds of thousands of plays. The young artist had also caught the attention of local stars like Lil Bibby and G Herbo and industry veterans like Waka Flocka Flame and Southside.
The first time Juice WRLD got any real mainstream media coverage was in March of 2018, when Billboard reported that he signed a deal with Interscope, allegedly valued at three million dollars. At that point, he still didn't have any music out on Spotify or Apple Music.
Now, with a Cole Bennett-directed video under his belt, a Ski Mask The Slump Godcollaboration coming up, a genre-defying sound perfect for 2018, and over seven million plays on "All Girls Are The Same," Juice WRLD is positioned to be one of 2018's biggest breakthrough stars.
Where did you get that name, Juice WRLD?
The Juice part came from the Tupac movie Juice and the WRLD came when I had a show and needed something cool.
You’ve been releasing music for a little while now, but it’s not on the major streaming platforms. Why not?
Just a lack of knowledge, really.
Six months ago you were still living in Chicago, now you’re signed to a huge deal. Do you feel overwhelmed at all by how fast things are moving? Is there pressure that comes along with that?
Honestly, I try not to think about it or dwell on it too much. I think that’s how people get lost in all of it. I just walk through it, I think about everything and I know this is all a blessing and a surreal opportunity but I haven’t really stopped, I just push forward. Everything is pretty natural, I just remember what I’m in it for. Pressure isn’t really the right word, I would say everything is just one big adrenaline rush.
Does being signed change any of the decisions you’re making?
Well I have a very open mind so I’m always up for guidance and direction. I take it when I need it but I’m also not someone who’s oblivious to what’s going on, so I have a sense of direction myself already.
One day I realized that I’m not living anybody else’s life but mine. I feel like people try to live other people’s lives or worry about what other people think about their life. That’s not the way to live at all.
You’ve gotten very popular, but you’ve kept some distance. Is that intentional? Do you want to avoid too much press and publicity?
Well, I guess in a way. I try to stay in my own lane. I do what’s comfortable to me. I’m myself. I just reached out to the people I looked up to and have played a role.
Do you remember any big moments where you realized you could do music full-time?
When my SoundCloud was going up with no promotion. I didn’t know anything about promoting, I was just doing what I knew and that was posting music. I have a very big library of shit that I like to listen to and that’s how I communicate, through making music. It was natural, I never paid for promotion or bought followers. It’s always been authentic and when I took a step back from everything and realized that’s what it was, that’s when I was like, “Okay, this is me.”
One day I realized that I’m not living anybody else’s life but mine. I feel like people try to live other people’s lives or worry about what other people think about their life. That’s not the way to live at all. I realized that’s it my life and that I’m the one painting the picture that’s going to be left, so why not do everything my way?
How did moving around a lot as a child affect your ability to connect with people and does any of that reflect in your music?
I was a real social person as a kid, I loved talking to people. As I’ve grown, that’s changed. I don’t really go out of my way to talk to people. I just communicate through my music. I feel like moving around has kind of helped me adapt to different environments quicker.
I saw you say that you took time out of every day to listen to music early on in life. Do you think other people really listen to music like that, or just play it to have background noise throughout their day?
There’s different types of people in the world, I feel like to some people it’s just noise and to some people it’s a vibe, it’s a connection. Each person is different on how they view music.
I like all types of music. It could change up so quickly, I could be listening to Foo Fighters and then switch up and turn on my favorite Sosa mixtape.
What music inspired you growing up?
Anything from Ozzy Osbourne to Chief Keef, honestly. I like all types of music. It could change up so quickly, I could be listening to Foo Fighters and then switch up and turn on my favorite Sosa mixtape. I listen to all types of music. My biggest influences are Kid Cudi, Chief Keef, Travis Scott—it’s a lot of them, bro. Eminem, I was a big Odd Future fan back in 2011. Super fan.
When I was a freshman in high school and started writing and freestyling, being different was frowned upon. I kind of kept it in a box, and then one day I said “fuck it” and started listening to whatever the fuck I wanted around whoever the fuck I wanted to. Staying true to myself.
What else are you into outside of music? Any other major influences or interests you have?
I’m a fake video game head. I really love video games. I don’t really do that much. I like going outside, I like nature a lot. Oh yeah, I love '80s movies.
What’s your favorite?
Damn bro, probably To Live And Die In LA.
Did you ever have any other full-time jobs before music?
I worked at a factory for two weeks and I got fired. That’s the only job I’ve ever had. Bro, that shit was horrible. I hated it, that was another reason I was like this shit is not for me. Nine to five wasn’t for me at all. The people there tripped out and it made me sad because there were people there that have been doing that shit for 20 plus years. They used to try and tell me, “Oh you can work your way up in the company!” But who the fuck wants to do that? People cut their lives short at like the age of 30 and say, “This is it, I’m gonna work at a factory for the rest of my life.” There’s so much more to life than just the basics. The stereotypical person is gonna tell you to go college and after college get a job. There’s so much more, the possibilities are endless and people are trapped.
“All Girls Are The Same” is one of the fastest growing songs of the year. What was it like recording that song and was it any different from the way you make the rest of your music?
It was no different and I didn’t expect for it to do what it did. I wrote it. I usually freestyle but I wrote the first verse to that one and freestyled the second. I look at my music like, “I make this, I like this, it’s going to do what it does. Whatever that is.”
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I want people to know they’re not alone. I want to just spread a sense of joy and fellowship with all of my fans.
Is your music all based off real-life experience?
Real-life experiences. Shit that has happened to or around me. It’s all authentic.
How would you describe your personality?
I guess I would describe myself as someone who is pretty chill and easy-going, I don’t really like too much drama around me. I’m a laid back dude. I have moments where I’m T’d like when I’m with my friends.
Are you a collaborative artist, or do you mostly work solo?
There’s people I want to work with specifically. I just do whatever I feel. I wouldn’t necessary say I work alone but I only look to work with certain people.
I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THEY’RE NOT ALONE. I WANT TO JUST SPREAD A SENSE OF JOY AND FELLOWSHIP WITH ALL OF MY FANS.
Are you more inspired when you’re sad or upset? Do you ever write songs when you’re happy or in a good mood?
I make music on how I’m feeling in that moment. I try to describe the best way I feel when I’m recording. Most of the time I’m freestyling. No matter how I’m feeling, I’m gonna pull something to describe my emotions at a certain time. I have 12-hour sessions every night. I just go in there and speak what’s on my mind.
How has Internet Money and its collective of producers helped you develop as an artist?
I love Nick Mira and Sidepce and they have helped me tremendously with my songwriting and recording skills. The beats that they make are crazy. Those two are blessings.
What is your end goal with music?
My end goal is to leave one of the biggest impacts on the world. Music is the doorway and how I express myself, but overall I just want to make really, really big impact on the world. In a good way.
What can we expect from you next?
I have a big project dropping that I can’t say too much about, and I have a visual dropping soon. That’s next up. A lot of exciting stuff coming, expect a lot of shows, merchandise on the way. It’s a lot going on and a lot coming. I just want people to know that the future is very bright. It’s going to be more than what you expect.