Victoria Justice is in her comeback era. The triple threat is soft-launching her music career with heartfelt singles 10 years after the finale of her iconic Nickelodeon show, Victorious. Even during her hiatus from the music industry, singing has always been on Justice’s mind. “I’ve missed making music. I love both [acting and singing] for different reasons, but music is definitely what I want to focus on at the moment,” she says in an exclusive interview with Her Campus.
Like most child actors who can hold a tune, Justice was encouraged to branch into the music industry during her Nickelodeon days. She put out two commercial singles called “Gold” and “Shake” in 2013 that clearly sound more like her character, Tori Vega, than Victoria. She vows that she’s changed as an artist since her debut singles boomed through tween clothing store speakers a decade ago.
“I didn’t even really want to record ‘Gold.’ The label that I was with at the time really wanted me to do it. It’s a fun song and I’m glad that I did it, but it wasn’t my first choice for a single,” she admits. “The things that I’m writing about now are much more personal, honest, and emotional. As I’ve gotten older, I’m willing to share more parts of myself.”
That transparency comes through while scrolling through Justice’s social media accounts. Her Instagram feed is full of digital postcards from her summer in Thailand spent shooting her upcoming thriller Sic. Her time abroad reinforced her commitment to protecting the environment. “No matter where I go, I still try to have a conscious routine. I carpool when I can, recycle, use Arm & Hammer’s Power Sheets to reduce my plastic bottle waste, and use reusable grocery bags.”
While she’s sharing more and talking about the environmental causes she believes in, Justice does choose to keep her love life private. She describes herself as someone who’s “always been a hopeful romantic” behind closed doors. “One of my favorite shows is The Bachelorette. I always daydream about love,” she laughs.
Her love for the show bleeds into her music. She wrote her latest single, “Only A Stranger,” after watching a particularly dreamy episode. “I went down to my music room and this little piano melody just came out of me. Then I just started singing those lyrics: ‘I want someone to think I’m special / Give me flowers for no reason.’ From that, the whole song was born,” she says.
The song’s lyrics are her daydreams put to paper. “I’m obviously longing for love in this song, but I’m also hopeful. I’m wondering, What is my future love like? I wanted to put my thoughts in musical form,” she says, a true departure from the palatable pop songwriting that drove “Gold.”
Justice’s evolved approach to songwriting has been shaped by artists who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable with their feelings. The cover art for “Only A Stranger” pays homage to one of her favorite albums of all time: Billy Joel’s The Stranger. “My mom introduced me to Billy Joel at a young age, and we’ve always bonded over our love for him and his music,” she says. “When I wrote ‘Only A Stranger,’ I felt like it was only right to honor one of my favorite albums ever. It just seemed to really work creatively for the song.” Justice may have grown up in the spotlight, but she’s still a fangirl at heart. “The fact that [Joel] posted about it, acknowledged it, and knows that I exist is the craziest thing ever,” she says.
“Only A Stranger” is the latest in a row of five singles Justice has released since 2020. She’s not worried about how many songs she’s putting out; she’s focused on enjoying the process behind making them in the first place. “The fun thing about songwriting is that it’s a puzzle that you’re slowly piecing together,” she says. “You don’t always know where it’s going to go or even what it’s going to be called. Somehow, at the end of the day, you’ve created an entire song out of a thought or a sentence.”
Justice is taking her time to work out her latest puzzle: her upcoming debut album. There’s no release date on the horizon, but she assures her fans that the album is “definitely in the works, slowly but surely. I just want it to be the most honest representation of me and who I am as an artist today. It’s going to be vulnerable with a lot of that singer-songwriter vibe. But I also love fun and sexy songs that empower women, and I love songs that people can vibe and dance to. I think it’s going to be all of the above. I’m excited to keep experimenting and fleshing it out.”