Singer-songwriter CJ Solar has been cranking out country songs in Nashville for more than eight years, including co-writing two number one hits. As an artist, Solar has more than 15 million streams of his music. Solar chatted with Music Mayhem about he’s evolved as a songwriter, how other artists recording his songs has changed his life, and how he’s digging deeper into his influences for his first full-length album, The Future’s Neon.
After writing songs five days a week for eight years, Solar’s approach to songwriting is more organic now.
“I think I like to trust my initial gut reaction to things a little bit more; I don’t second guess near as much,” Solar told Music Mayhem. “I think that’s just from just doing it a lot… I feel like some people get to this point where they either think about things for like three days straight or they just go, that sounds cool. I’m a fan of that. And that’s more of where I’ve wound up, is just doing what feels good.”
That strategy has paid off, with two of Solar’s songs hitting the top of the charts. “Up Down” recorded by Morgan Wallen and “Some Girls,” recorded by Jameson Rodgers were both number one hits, co-written by Solar, that helped elevate his career.
The success of those number one songs gave Solar “a little bit more freedom… to really reinvest in myself,” he said. “I funded this album myself and a lot of other stuff. It’s allowed me to keep doing what I love.”
Not only has his success as a songwriter allowed him to reinvest in his craft, but it’s helped give him even more credibility as an artist in the eyes of fans.
“Being able to play these shows and play songs that I’ve written for other people and have people go, ‘I know that song!’ It kind of makes people like my songs more,” said Solar. “It validates you in a weird sense. Where even if you’re making the same music, people are like, ‘Oh, well Morgan Wallen sang one of your songs, you must be cool.’ I am always thankful for any artist who records any of my songs. It’s a huge compliment when there’s a whole town where legendary songwriters are still doing it five days a week themselves. To be able to sneak some tunes in there and be able to have a little bit of success… it’s really something special and it’s really hard, but I don’t know how to do anything else.”
“The Future’s Neon” is Solar’s current single and title track off his first full-length album to be released this summer.
Solar co-wrote the song with Blake Griffith and Jim McCormick over the video conference platform Zoom when the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down in March 2020. “The Future’s Neon” was one of the first songs Solar co-wrote via Zoom and it was inspired by what life might look like after the pandemic. As the writers were catching up on life and what things might be like after the pandemic, McCormick told Solar, “I think there’s a lot of neon in country music listeners’ future.”
“We weren’t gonna write it about COVID, but that was the inspiration,” said Solar. “On the other side of this, there’s gonna be some cold beer and neon.”
Listeners can expect to hear Solar’s influences shine through on his upcoming album The Future’s Neon, more than on any of his previous projects.
“I’ve gotten to explore a little bit more sides of my stuff, going deeper. I feel like I obviously have a very CJ thread going through them, but you can hear, ‘oh, well that one’s got a little more Eagles vibe, that one’s got a little more of a nineties country vibe, that one’s got a Foo Fighters vibe.’ There’s just a lot of different stuff. It is always a fun process, but it was extra special and fun going, ‘you know what? I’m not gonna hold myself to an EP.’ I’ve never done a full album. I think it would be cool to give people even more of myself. I’m excited to see what people think of it.”
Solar plans to release a few more tracks ahead of the full album, which comes out this summer.