I have to be honest… I didn’t know who JJ was when he crossed my desk. But the team at MTS Management Group has a way of introducing me to names that are worth my attention. I started listening to him, really enjoyed his songwriting, and really wanted to learn more about him. I reached out for an interview and had fun getting to know him. It is my pleasure to introduce you to JJ McGuigan.
When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
I had dreamed of it since I was about 13. Really decided when I was about 22.
How many different guitars do you own?
I have an acoustic Taylor, and an Ibanez electric guitar guitar.
You were a finalist on VH1 “Save The Music.” Tell me more about that experience.
It was a great experience as far as being reassuring that I was on the right path. My songs progressed through the rounds and I ended up in the finalist category. It was good cause it was an international competition that anyone could enter.
What is the music scene like in Witchita?
It is full of talented musicians that want to be heard. However, most of the venues only let cover songs play so it’s hard to get your own original music out there.
You recently signed with MTS Management Group. Tell me more about your experience working with them.
It has been great so far. Far exceeding my expectations. They are terrific and fun to work with as well.
Wait, you play the drums, too? What other instruments do you play?
I am learning keyboard at the moment to try and help with writing songs.
Growing up, I really wanted to attend Full Sail University. You did! What was that experience like?
It was very good in terms of learning the business aspect of the industry. It was priceless in that sense and gave me some good confidence in that area.
You played basketball at Newman University. You must be tall! Tell me a story about your time on the hardwood.
Actually, I’m only 5 foot 8. (Laughs.) But I always loved basketball and was very dedicated to it and worked hard just to get to that level. I currently am volunteering as an assistant coach there.
Tell me about your relationship with Garrett Crow.
It is very good and very satisfying musically. He is a one of a kind talent in music in general and was great working with him.
I don’t see any shows on your website. Do you have a tour planned for this spring?
I’m planning on doing is finishing up another EP that I’m working on with Brian Elwick who is also my best friend. Once we have that done we plane on putting a full band together and playing some shows.
It might be hard to talk about, but you were diagnosed with OCD and depression at 16. What was that like, how have you turned the corner, and how are you using that experience in your music and to raise awareness?
I try to raise awareness any time I can in telling people they are not alone if they are suffering from any kind of mental illness or struggle. I was diagnosed at 16 and it was very hard for a few years but ended up turning the corner around 19 when playing basketball and learning guitar. Both of those were very therapeutic for me and a great outlet and release.
They say, “Everything is bigger in Texas.” You spent some time in Austin. What did you do there and why did you return to Wichita?
I went to Texas just for a change in pace and scenery for a while. I had lived in Wichita my whole life so it was nice being down there for a while. I knew it might only be for the short term but was able to make a few contacts and friends down there. I have a lot more connections for songwriting and recording here in Wichita though so I decided to move back.
Tell me more about your songwriting process.
It really can strike at any time so I always have a pen and pad or phone nearby. I try and save everything I write so I can go back to it if necessary. I have boxes full of writings. I really try to feel an emotion or come up with a line that triggers an emotion and then ask myself what this is in a sense and try to just expand upon it really.
What’s next for JJ McGuigan?
Keep making music and working hard and will have this new EP out as soon as we can with Brian Elwick and then start up the live shows.
In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Follow your dreams. You will learn so much more along the way if you take that path than you will any other.