News Column

Former Nickelodeon star turns pop music princess [Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)]

July 2, 2013

YellowBrix

As Victoria Justice moves beyond her four-season run on Nickelodeon's sitcom "Victorious," she is hoping to re-establish her identity as an entertainer.

Justice and Big Time Rush headline the "Summer Break Tour" concert at the Landers Center on Tuesday night, a testament to Justice's lack of down time after her show abruptly ended.

The 20-year-old Florida native wants to break from her teen entertainment past and establish herself as a more adult pop songstress.

"There's not a lot of time for goofing around because we have so much going on," says Justice, who is busy promoting her first post- "Victorious" songs, "Gold" and "Shake." "This is a very important time for me as I say goodbye to 'Victorious' and introduce fans to my new music."

Justice is looking to recast herself in the public's eye after a decade as a child performer. Singing since she was little, she caught the acting bug when she got a bit part as a 10-year-old in an episode of "Gilmore Girls." Her family soon moved to California to pursue her dream. The gambit quickly paid off as she won roles in series like "Everwood," the film "Unknown," and a string of Nickelodeon productions, including "Zoey 101." She displayed her singing talents in "The Naked Brothers Band" and "Spectacular!" In 2010, Nickelodeon producer (and Memphis native) Dan Schneider created a show just for Justice. In the music-filled "Victorious" she played Tori Vega, a teenager who wins a coveted slot at a Hollywood performing arts high school. The series won Favorite TV Show at the 2012 Kids' Choice Awards. It also spawned three popular soundtrack albums, selling more than 3 million singles, including the gold-certified "Freak the Freak Out," giving Justice's music career a boost. She even co-wrote three of the songs featured in the show, and last year embarked on her first tour.

"I definitely feel a lot more confident after that experience, just because I know what to expect now," Justice says of the two tours. "I think we've upped the production value a lot on this go around. We have two video screens and two Zumba dancers that dance with me on a song and just like fun props."

In February, "Victorious" abruptly ended its four-season run on Nickelodeon, and now Justice, understandably, is ready to move on. A few weeks ago she released her first single since the show ended, the Jessie J-ish "Gold" accompanied by the Justice co-penned party song "Shake." Hayley Gene Penner, Nolan Lambroza, and the Messengers, the team behind hits by Justin Bieber, Pitbull and Christina Aguilera, helped with the writing.

"I was feeling very spontaneous and optimistic and positive that day, and I just wanted to write a song about wanting to shake what your mama gave ya," she says of "Shake." "We just loved that catchphrase and went from there."

Justice says the new songs represent a gradual move away from "Victorious" and perhaps more importantly signify her taking control of her music.

"It's slightly more mature," she says of the sound. "It's still under the category of pop, but it has my own vibe."

Justice says fans can expect a wide variety of sounds on her upcoming debut album, which is scheduled for release later this year.

"It is a taste of what is to come," says Justice, whose musical interests stretch from the Beatles and Elton John to Carole King and Motown. "'Gold' is very upbeat and fun, but I think I want to explore some other areas of music as well. Maybe put out a few songs that aren't as poppy. I have another song that I wrote that is more in the Sara Bareilles vibe, more singer-songwriter-y. So you can expect a touch of that, too."

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Concert

Who: Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice with Olivia Somerlyn and Jackson Guthy

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Landers Center, 4560 Venture Drive in Southaven

Tickets: $29.50, $39.50, $49.50, and $59.50. Tickets available at the box office and through Ticketmaster. Call 662-280-9120 or visit landerscenter.com.

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