Walk into this Colonial in Toronto's Bloor West Village neighborhood, go past the brown upright piano, up the stairs and somewhere in between Bedroom No. 1 and Bedroom No. 8, you'll find singer/songwriter Justin Nozuka's sanctuary.
It's an olive-walled cocoon filled with tall, divided-light windows looking out onto a sea of trees, a river and neighboring homes.
With an unmade bed lying flat on the floor surrounded by a Martin guitar and P.A. speakers, Nozuka's nest isn't worlds apart from bedrooms of other recent high-school grads. But Nozuka is.
At 20, the sixth of seven kids (hence the many-bedroomed house) has given us the powerful "Save Him" from his debut album "Holly" and taken his music around the world. In the spring, after he co-headlines March 13 at the Vic Theatre here with Missy Higgins, he'll be joining John Mayer and his musical pals on the second-annual Mayercraft Carrier cruise.
Nozuka's songs are like short stories that you can see playing out in your head, graced with tinges of Lauryn Hill, Bill Withers and other R&B, blues and folk influences.
And it's in his light-filled room that Nozuka's songs are born—their beginnings found along with "diary entries and the odd sketch" in the many assorted writing books he keeps here.
Though many of the other bedrooms have lost their full-time occupants, Nozuka and his four brothers and two sisters still call this place, feathered by mom/artist Holly Sedgwick, home.
Warm is the word that Nozuka (brother of R&B singer George Nozuka and actor Phil Nozuka, nephew of Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon) uses to describe it. "A lot of wood [and] lots of my mom's paintings on the walls," he told us in a recent e-mail interview. "I love the area—surrounded by lots of trees and the river is behind us. The lake [one of the Great ones—Ontario] is just down the street, and we're right on the subway line.
"I've moved around plenty of times as a child, so we've been in many different houses," says the New York native, whose dad, Hiromitsu Nozuka, still lives in New York. "Some were new-development houses, which were no good, and others were in the middle of nowhere. [Now] I feel like we have a great situation."
What item in your home shouts "Justin Nozuka lives here!"? We have so many guitars in this house—we also have a few amps in the basement, one electric piano and another acoustic piano. There's always someone making music here.
What's new in your life that no one knows about? I've been watching a lot of Disney films the past few weeks. ... I just love the old-school Disney stuff—the animation, music, character voices, stories—it's all just warm for me.
One thing on your nightstand: I don't really have a nightstand, but I use my speakers to keep my iPod player on.
One thing on a wall in your bedroom: A poster of Mahatma [Mohandas] Gandhi, and underneath it reads his quote: "An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind."
One thing you have in your house from your childhood: Some old portable recorders.
If you had to save one "thing" from your home, what would it be? My writing books.
What reading material would we find in your bathroom? At the moment, "The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices" by Xinran.
Best furniture bargain you ever got, and where'd you get it? I got this huge speaker at a garage sale for free.
What can you see outside your bedroom window? I have an amazing view of beautiful trees, the river, the sky; I can see other people's houses, the highway, apartment buildings in the distance, out to the highway.
What would we see more of in your home: dust, books, CDs, piles, sports equipment, plants or stuffed animals? Books.
If your iPod were on right now, what would be playing? Radiohead.
Biggest surprise we'd find in your closet: I have a "love box" in there from my first relationship in high school.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun