Premiere: Watch Justin Stewart Cotta's New Music Video 'You Don't Have To'

Justin Stewart Cotta is a Sydney-based multi instrumentalist and singer.
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

A musical chameleon, Justin Stewart Cotta's (JSC) career has seen him graduate from classical piano prodigy to shredding guitar with the likes of QOTSA and Ozzy Osbourne as well as founding and fronting the US-based Memento in the early 2000s.

Also an actor and poet warrior, Justin's musical landscapes venture into alt rock, folk, punk and pop territories with songwriting that evokes a sense of hope.

Now based in Sydney, JSC's newest collection of material is the recently released EP 'City Of Angels', which was produced and mixed by ARIA nominee Ryan Miller at Hercules Street Studios, formerly Albert Studios (of Easybeats, AC/DC fame).

JSC performs all instruments on the EP except for the drums, that were supplied by legendary Grant Gerathy (John Butler Trio).

"We wanted to create a soulful, analogue experience for the listener, devoid of gadgetry and tricks," JSC says.

"The focus was fiercely on the lyrics and songs themselves. Melody lines and truthful performances are the DNA of this record.

"The truly gifted Ryan Miller conducted the recordings and performances with remarkable touch, sensitivity and feel."

The second single from 'City Of Angels' is 'You Don't Have To'. Armed with his acoustic guitar, JSC provides smooth, golden soulful tones that bring to mind the '60s flavours of The Beatles and '70s Led Zeppelin acoustic vibes.

With lyrics that circle around the heartbroken understanding of a former lover, the essence of rock displayed by JSC merges into folky, alt. country territory at times as he lays his heart on his sleeve ('Baby, I'm still crazy / You don't have to save me').

The track meanders to a close with heartfelt yet hushed vocals from Cotta adding that warmth to an already well-stoked fire.

Today, scenestr is amped to premiere the music video for 'You Don't Have To', which was directed by James Norbert Ivanyi and JSC. Enjoy.

"There was initially an entirely different treatment and creative team for the video," begins JSC.

"Big production, multiple locations, a highly regarded DOP and talented director involved, a beautiful and clever storyline, me being splattered in paint in super slow motion, actors and extras involved. And, as a very generous and special favour, it was all gonna be free!

"Sadly, a few days before the shoot, I got the dreaded plague. It was looking as though there would be no video for 'You Don't Have To'.

"All the creatives had other engagements, and there was a window of only a very specific two days to shoot. I did the only thing I could, I totally pissed everyone off and cancelled at short notice. What a legend!

"That's when I heard that little voice in my head, the one that tells you things you don't really wanna hear: 'This is how it's meant to be. The super cool, big production video doesn't suit the soul of the song. The song is about somehow finding the courage to let someone go when you know letting them go might kill you.'

"Well. . . f...! Ok. So it came to me that I had to get ultra-personal and return to the scene of the crime, the studio where the song was recorded. Hercules Street Studios, formerly Albert Studios of Acca Dacca fame.

"The deconstructed upright piano in the background, the '70s Rhodes, the Wurlitzer, the exact model and year microphone that Elvis poured himself into at Sun Studios when he decided to put some of his trucking money into recording a song for his Mum, the Zeppelin records on vinyl scattered about the place, The Beatles literature, and the vintage Maton acoustic, all of which make cameos in the video you now see.

"And of course, there are the sunglasses. I had been eyeing those beauties off the minute I saw them semi-abandoned in the studio. They were gifted to the producer by another artist, but Ryan wasn't really feeling them.

"He's more of a classic Ray Ban guy, with the model good looks to pull it off. But me? Beaten up, broken down, bald, grey-bearded me. I need some truly f...ed up eyewear.

"I need shades that both hide me, and reveal me. Like a mask. You know what they say, give a person a mask and they'll show you their essence. And so it came to be, that these shades, this veil, these 'sunglasses', ended up being the star of the video. The lovechild of Elvis Presley's sunnies and Jeffrey Dahmer's spectacles.

"They transported me to my favourite place, and that's inside the song. So ultimately what you get in this video is pure and uninhibited. Just a bloke sitting on a couch alone, with an acoustic guitar, trying like hell to sing himself to a better place."

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