In the video above, Tim McGonigal talks with Great Falls singer The CJ, whose song “Don’t Lose Yourself” recently cracked the Top 50 on the iTunes pop chart in the U.S.
The 18-year old 2023 CMR High School graduate says it’s a song about authenticity: "To kind of not get caught up in the world and everybody else and just kind of being yourself through everything. Just don't get caught up in everything around you and be yourself and don't know what other people think of you, affect you."
The CJ describes their emo style music as a mix of pop punk and pop rock, influenced by bands like Paramore, Youngblood, and their biggest inspiration, My Chemical Romance: "Started listening to them probably when I was 12 and fell in love with them. I'm going to get my Chemical Romance tattoo and I saw what they were doing because their music helped me get through hard times and I want to be able to do that for other people."
Non-musical influences for The CJ incudes mentors at the Great Falls LGBTQ+ Center where they serve as teen board president, and family members.
“My mom is one of my biggest supporters,” said The CJ. “She helps me get a lot of the things and get to a lot of the places I need to be to make this stuff happen.”
The CJ is on the autism spectrum and in high school struggled with depression and anxiety; the stress of a budding music career almost made them quit: "I took a pause from it. At one point I even ended up in the hospital due to mental health things, but I came back from that and I felt ready. I was like, I can do this now. I've got the skills I need and I feel better after being in the hospital that I could do the things that I wanted to do and I set my mind to it. And now, here I am."
A lover of poetry, The CJ hopes to write their own music and eventually release an album, and encourages other artists to not be afraid to take a leap of faith: "Just to have confidence, film your talent, do your thing and post it. Some will see it and they'll spread it."
"Don’t Lose Yourself" is available on iTunes and Spotify.
The CJ will be featured on an upcoming "McGonigal's Chronicles" podcast, which is available on Omny.fm, iTunes, Spotify, Google, and Stitcher.
Previous guests include:
- Jeff Ament of the rock band Pearl Jam
- Sarah Calhoun, creator of the Red Ants Pants Music Festival
- Jamie Ford, Great Falls-based NYT best-selling author
- Nada Bakos, former CIA operative
- John Cameron, retired Great Falls police detective
- Dava Newman, former deputy administrator of NASA