Exclusive EP Premiere: Justin Stewart Cotta – City Of Angels (2023 EP)

Justin Stewart Cotta

Sydney singer/songwriter Justin Stewart Cotta is a musician we’ve long admired at the AU. This brave and honest songwriter is just about to drop his latest collection of songs via the EP City Of Angels, and we are thrilled today to have the first listen. We also have the moving video premiere for the title-track.

Justin has a formidable back history. He was the founder and frontman of Memento and the guitarist and keyboardist for VAST.  He also toured the corners of the globe playing his guitar for the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age and Ozzy Osbourne. And he was a child prodigy on the piano as well.

Of his own work, it is imbued with an innate sense of honesty. There is no gimmickry here, no linguistic games. With the tracks on City of Angels, Justin has clearly been through some dark times. He draws the listener in, sharing his story, and by keeping the production clear and crisp, the vocals and beautiful guitars reach the audience unfiltered.

About the title-track and lead single, Justin writes: “Like the majority of us, I’m not immune to anxiety and depression. Music is therapy for me. ‘City Of Angels’ was written in a dark dingy apartment, in the midst of concurrent and catastrophic losses.. lost the big record deal, lost the big publishing deal, lost the band, lost my friends, lost my long term partner… and she took the dog. I was close to the edge. Drowning in loss is when I found the melody and lyric”

The video is beautiful and conveys the story. In keeping with the tenor of the record, it focuses on the song and the performer.  “Confessing your deepest truths to a room full of ghosts. Wailing into the abyss. Rather than articulating this visually through VFX, I made the decision early on that I wanted the experience to be earthy and analogue. A performer trapped in an empty theatre.. a kind of vaudevillian purgatory. The only escape, if any, being through the transcendence of song. Not just any song. No mere jingle. But rather the one song you would sing if it were to be your last.

The New Theatre in Newtown provided the perfect setting, complete with old school red curtains and vintage seating banks. With just a spotlight in the dark, my co-director and cinematographer James Norbert Ivanyi captured both the performance and the ghosts beautifully.”



The EP is a collection of four tracks. The EP finishes on his 2022 single, “The Little Things”, an upbeat celebration that encourages us to enjoy the little things in life. Anyone who has experienced the end of a relationship will find solace in “You Don’t Have To”.

As with the title-track, the remaining songs on the record are intimate and honest. About the EP, Justin writes:  “The collection of songs on City Of Angels are the most honest and vulnerable I have ever written. There is a distinct lack of ambition and ego on this record. There was no desire to “eclipse” previous recordings… no desire to compete, be it with my own past or any other artist for that matter. There is a soft naivety and innocence at the core of these songs.. a quality I may well have crafted my way out of in the past… be it with over-production, or over-writing the song. Or indeed replacing a lyric deemed too simple or naff. There is no such self-important editing to be found in these recordings. No thirsty desire for authorship nor desire for applause. On City Of Angels, the songs are truly the master of me.”

City of Angels was produced and mixed by ARIA nominee Ryan Miller in Sydney at Hercules Street Studios, formerly Albert Studios of Easybeats / ACDC fame. All instruments and vocals played and performed by Justin Stewart Cotta, except for the drums.

About the instrumentation and producing, Justin states: “The super tasty drumming on the EP is by virtue of the legendary Grant Gerathy (John Butler Trio). We wanted to create a soulful, analogue experience for the listener, devoid of gadgetry and tricks. 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.”

Do press <Play> and enjoy the beauty of City of Angels from Justin Stewart Cotta

You can keep up to date with Justin on his Website, Spotify, Facebook and Instagram

Bruce Baker

Probably riding my bike, taking photos and/or at a gig. Insta: @bruce_a_baker