At 17, Justice Carradine was trying to cope with the incessant shifts around him, his mental health, and all the pains of growing up. Then, at his absolute breaking point, the Utah-born artist wrote “Okay.”
“Being in that space while trying to understand life as a teenager, I kinda just wished someone cared enough to ask me if I was okay,” says Carradine. “This song was a way for me to do that for myself.”
Carradine’s first release of 2021, “Okay” follows 2020 singles “Can’t Feel A Thing” and “Limbo,” and was written when the artist began going back and forth from his native Utah to Los Angeles, while he was still in high school.
“My friend situation got very confusing, and there was some other family-related things going on,” says Carradine, now 19. “At the time, I didn’t know that when you suppress emotions, they’re eventually going to come out in one sitting and that’s how I ended up writing the song in 10 minutes. I didn’t think anything it. It was a stream of conscious therapy I needed.”
With the line You know I’m drowning all alone and everyone’s watching me / I can’t do this on my own / It’s suffocating me, “Okay,” opens a can of worms on mental health. Brimming through unshakeable emotion, “Okay” is an open conversation on one’s mental state, all its complexities depicted in the video, directed by Eli Sokhn and under the creative direction of Carradine, showing the artist looking back at himself on screen, and in drowning sequences through more serene moments, playing music in the mountains.
Still residing in Utah, Carradine finds his solace, and stories, in the mountains. “I’ve had the best time just by myself and with friends,” he says. “I felt very safe there, comfortable just being exactly how I am. It’s a good place for me to go to either start writing or to check in with myself, which eventually turns into a song.”
Debuting with his first single “Dangerous Love” in 2019, music was part of Carradine’s existence early on, playing piano, and picking guitar, ukulele, drums, and any instrument he could get his hands on by the age of 5. At 13, Carradine gained millions of views for his videos on Post Malone, Ed Sheeran, and The 1975 covers, which he posted on Vine and later moved to YouTube. His heritage—half Italian and half-Samoan-Apache—has also greatly influenced the young artist musically and spiritually as it was a means of communication for his family.
For Carradine, music is still healing, and he’s still figuring out how to be “okay” with things.
“I explore life and try to challenge myself to do things differently sometimes,” says Carradine. “Writing songs for me is a release, to get it out of my system. It’s the most meaningful to me, that usually ends up resonating with other people, because it’s just real.”
He adds, “The best thing about writing is taking these shitty things that we go through and making something so pretty out of it.”