Special Interview: Jackson James

Jackson James stops by for a special interview.

How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?

I was born into music, a family of singers and players from my grandparents, aunties and uncles to my own parents all playing music professionally at some point. My grandparents used to throw huge parties in their backyard with everyone up on stage playing well into the night and I remember being up on stage from a very young age. Its so great to look back at old photos of those days and wish I could have played with them at this point on my musical journey.

What motivates or influences your in your quest to make great music?

I have many extremely talented friends that I get to either play with or work in other areas of their careers. This small group of like minded people are my biggest inspiration and seeing them create on a daily basis and develop into phenomenal artist achieving great things motivates me to be the best I can be each day. Inspiration as a creative can come from many different places, from hearing a great new song, a road trip where you can sit with your thoughts or even watching a movie and I love this exact thing about the creative process.

What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?

I’m really focusing on writing better songs and being a better all-round musician. I love recording and producing just as much as being an artist so every little step forward is an accomplishment. My goal is to write and record as many quality songs as I can and share them with the world and hopefully this will give me opportunities to get on the festival circuit and a chance to play iconic venues in Australia and overseas.

What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?

I’m currently in Nashville catching up with friends, writing and playing guitar for Melanie Dyer at CMA Fest 23. After we return I’ll be on the road with Melanie traveling out to the Big Red Bash, Mundi Mundi Bash, Country On Keppel and planning a tour later in the year. I have a couple of singles ready to go so will be working on my release plan, content and music videos in between the tour shows.

Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?

My latest release was my debut original single release to radio and I’m beyond happy with how it has been received. “Get Around To It” is the perfect debut song for me as I’ve been in the music industry for most of my adult life and have only just got around to releasing something of my own. “Get Around To It” was co-written with my partner Melanie Dyer on the back of a crazy couple of years of shows and creating content. We often talk about the fact we often put aside “us” time between the chaos of a life on the road and need take a weekend off once in a while, book a trip and enjoy some R&R. 

Growing up on the coast in Port Macquarie, I had my family who are huge country music fans and the coastal surf music influence with the likes of Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and Pete Murray so naturally my style has developed into a blend of the two which I’m calling Coastal / Country. I love the laid back happy feeling of coastal and the song writing and modern production of country so hopefully I can continue writing songs that sit in this laneway.

Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?

I’m defiantly a music and vibe person first then lyrics / melody. Having recording and production knowledge really helps me when writing songs. I believe the music can take you on an emotional journey all on its own and often forms the energy and tone of the melody and lyrics before you even start writing. Ideas can come from a simple riff, bass line or a single word you’ve heard in conversation. It all starts with an idea applying things you’ve learnt along the way and then putting the pieces together to create the song. For me I’m at my best when I’m feeling relaxed, there are many moving parts in a creatives brain so if I am able to clear out the clutter the ideas just keep coming.

Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music? 

This is the beauty of music, lyrics can be different things to different people and everyone relates in their own way. I don’t purposely aim for any hidden meanings In my music but this doesn’t mean somebody out there won’t find one that relates to them in their own way. I think music with a clever hook written with imagery is the best appealing to more people, everyone has a story and their own memory they can relate to the lyrics. 

Success, what is the secret to it?

Success is a sliding scale and from what I have learnt over the years, it really comes down to how hard you work and what you’re willing to sacrifice. A bit of talent a lot of luck and a huge amount of resilience is the key for success.

What has been your biggest career highlight so far?

I have had some amazing highlights in the past two years, performing on some of the biggest stages alongside Melanie Dyer and achievements in the charts. Playing the main stage at CMC Rocks, The Big Red Bash and recently CMA Fest in Nashville was a dream come true moment and a surreal experience on the live front and producing several music videos charting on CMT with a #1 for Cheap Moscato by Melanie Dyer last year.

Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?

There are so many inspiring artists, I love watching Keith Urban on stage he has such a unique energy and I Cody Johnson is another. Both artists a phenomenal performers but also have so much humility and you can feel just how grateful they are to be up there. If I ever get to do shows like these guys I hope people would be able to feel the same way.

Are there any new projects in the pipeline?

I’m currently working on what will be my next single out October / November. I’m focusing on writing as much as possible this year and developing my style and looking to drip feed a few more single before an EP mid next year.

The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself a few years?

The industry is a beast and you have to be able to adapt to change. I’ve been self employed for most of my life working in music, architecture, photography and film and I feel like I’ve experienced enough highs and lows to understand how to navigate change. I’m an avid learner and love a challenge so for me I only ever work to succeed and hopefully in a few years Im still building on what Im doing now, playing bigger shows and spending more time in Nashville.

What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?

My favourite part about this industry is the people you meet along the way, from the fans to crew and the other artists that overtime feel like family. My least favourite part would be the inconsistency of the shows and sometimes the almost impossible logistics in getting yourself, crew and band to a show. Some times it’s an eight hour dive each way to play a festival set or three flights and a substantial road trip. Australia is a BIG country!

Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.

Oh this is tough without context as I have different favourites for different reasons but I’ll give it ago. Id have to start with Melanie Dyer,  she is a phenomenal song writer and my favourite singer in Australia, Brad Cox and the band, they have so much energy on stage and and are good people, Blake O’Conner is beyond talented with a huge voice and text book guitar skills, Sinead Burgess is another great friend and I could listen to her all day long. Honestly the list could go on and Im super luck to call many of my favourites my friends.

The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?

I have a love / hate relationship with social media, I am an artists but also a content creator. When I’m not playing music or producing Im making content specifically for social media for commercial clients and other artists. The industry is telling us we need more social media content and this is the best form of marketing, and if you already have a huge following than yes however the reality is if you don’t have that following you a investing huge amount of time or money in the hope of being a one in a million that cracks the algorithm and become an overnight success. I have seen beautifully crafted and professional content go no where and then low grade media crack the big time. Its a huge gamble of time with no guarantee of results and it’s entirely possible you could invest a large portion of your life putting out content for the tech companies to just take it away. I know its a tool thats vital in connecting your music to the world but there needs to be a balance and nothing will substitute actually getting out there and performing for people in person. The artists and bands that built fans over time are the ones that have the forever songs and the fans for life. For me I’m going to use social media as the tool that it is, but also get out there and live my life building fans one at a time.

How will you continue appealing to the international market?

The best way to get your music into the international market is to get global play listing on Spotify or Apple Music. My plan is to continue building my artists profile, releasing songs and getting little wins along the way drastically helps your chances in getting added to the international playlists. 

Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?

Collaboration is key in crafting something great. I have collaborated with several artists over the years either writing, producing, playing guitars on their records or producing content or music videos and is something I want to continue doing. I would love to work with John Mayer, Seaforth, Lindsay Rimes, Jack Johnson and the list could go on haha.

What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Buckle in, it’s a wild ride with many twists and turns, ups and downs. You need to understand not everyday is going to be a win but thats ok another one will be right around the corner. Take everything with a grain of salt, if you think you have worked hard, work harder and remember how lucky you are to do what you love everyday.

A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?

You can follow my journey on my Instagram or Facebook, thanks so much to everyone steaming my new single “Get Around To It” and I can’t wait to show you what Im working on next.

Any last words?

Feel free to reach out and say hello and I’ll hopefully see you at a show one day!

Website: www.jacksonjames.com.au

Facebook: @jacksonjamesmusic


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