A musician, composer and performer for over 15 years and self described “natural born underdog,” Justin Payne has a wealth of musical and life experience that contributes to his depth and complexity as an artist. Payne studied music composition and classical violin at Bowling Green State University, although he graduated with degrees in History and Philosophy, which are definite influences on his lyrical and thematic style. Much of his discography has been centered around themes of devotion, love, community, angst towards corrupt institutions and people, as well as various flavors of social commentary all wrapped up in instrumental arrangements typically pulling from the rock tradition.
His first self-released and self-produced EP, “Interstellar Vagabond,” released in 2014. It was a solo acoustic EP that led to his first major signing with a booking agent, two regional tours and two national routes. With the first incarnation of his band, Justin Payne & Co, a six song self-released and self-produced EP was released in 2016, titled “High Water”. This led to a regional solo tour and a co-tour with songwriter Zach Wilson. Payne started the next incarnation of his band in 2018; during this run, the band performed as headliners at the Black Swamp Arts Festival and recorded a full-length vinyl LP, “Season of Loss”, as well as securing a writeup in American Songwriter Magazine and a regional major-city band tour.
The latest incarnation of the band is stationed in Nashville with their newest full-length LP “underrated and overstimulated” currently in the works. Payne has performed all over the United States over the years; some of his favorite venues include 5 Spot in Nashville and Space in Evanston, IL. Live shows are fun and high energy, with a constant momentum and little time between tracks to keep that vibe going.