• Dragon Media

FEATURE: Singer-songwriter Justin Ripassa

For twenty-year old Justin Ripassa, Cardiff is a city of opportunities. The Dutch singer-songwriter, originally from Emmen in the Netherlands, is an up and coming talented musician, who is currently studying at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Justin’s aim is to share his personal story through music to help inspire others. But it was a difficult time in his life that first introduced him to his music.

Photo Credit: Iris Sijbom (Instagram: irissijbom)

“It started when I was 14. I never had a disease before that, and I got a liver and kidney disease and it got pretty bad because they couldn’t find out what it was… and until one time when I was 15-16, I was hospitalised, and it nearly got the better of me.”

He described. “However, something in the tide changed and helped me get back up… And that’s the moment I started singing, playing guitar and trying to really get into trying to inspire people”.

And with Cardiff being host to a music scene unlike many other cities, having been built on the passion for sharing and enjoying music, Justin believes the possibilities here to be limitless.

“I would describe Cardiff, as the city of opportunities.”, he said. “If you’re a musician, there’s opportunities everywhere lying around”. Justin has only been making and performing music for two years now, but has already released two singles, “Passing by” and “Another Friend”, with a third to come this year. But for him, he says, “it’s not necessarily the passion for music to make it, it was the passion for music in how much I love listening to it because, it may be cliché, but a lot of people say ‘oh, you’re music got me through some rough times’”.

Just a year ago Justin released his first single, “Another Friend”, a personal, and emotional love song. “Another friend is a song about love gone wrong, and the feeling of always wanting to be there for someone and trying to be there for someone… it’s basically about love problems, but it’s exactly how it happened to me”, he said. Justin’s aim for “Another Friend” was to convey a personal message. “That’s mission accomplished right now, you want it to be personal and that’s what you’re striving for. Because if it’s not personal I find it hard to convey that message or convey that feeling”.

- Listen to Justin Ripassa's full interview with Dragon Radio

Continuing to deliver a personal message through his music, Justin released his second single, “Passing by”, in August 2019. “Well ‘Passing by’ is actually quite reasoned and I still feel like this, over the past years I’ve really started to get on sort of a roller coaster in life, really high highs and really low lows sometimes, and in that roller coaster I really find that I’m leaving a lot.

“I have the lifestyle and the tendency to really be international, not only is my study international, but my music is as well. So you can imagine that I cannot really find a proper way of relaxing, my mind is always trying to find new things to work on, and passing by, basically, is a part of that, and passing by actually translates to me the feeling of always trying to find a better place because we knew how it was when we didn’t try to do that, we know what it was to be like in a very deep low with my, my disease, actually, passing by saying, we have to leave right now, or probably won’t make it out.”

Just a few years into making music and having had just one previous single, the release of “Passing by” was accompanied by a release party at his University, NHL Stenden Hogeschool, where the first copy of the new CD had been personally handed to the Commissary of the King.

Since then, Justin’s career has been on the rise. He told me that his third single, due to be released this year, will bring with it an international publishing deal. “I intend to release new songs and I intend to release them with the knowledge have right now and the connections I have right now and we’re very much looking forward to the future, especially next year because we’re going to release a new song in February. And this one has got an international publishing deal.” Justin also received news that his music is to be featured alongside some of the top music, on MTV Asia.

And back in his hometown of Emmen, his achievements as a musician have not gone unnoticed, as Justin has recently been nominated for a culture award by the municipality of Emmen. “I am so I’m so honoured”, he said. “I got nominated by this because it’s a price to motivate people of culture in the region of Emmen to keep going on what they’re doing”.

Despite his successes as a musician, and his recent studies away from home here in Cardiff, Justin has never forgotten where he came from, thanking his family for supporting him from the beginning. But it’s also Emmen, where he first started to inspire people, that he will never forget. “Wherever I may be, and how amazing things will be, I will always find my way back home and home will always be Emmen, and home will always be Cardiff because I feel like home here as well.

“I will always find my way, I don’t know how, and I don’t know how structured that will be in time management, but I would say Emmen is always home”.

-Cole Harris (@ColeHarris348)