Winner of the TMA, the Tracks Music Awards, Jackson Wells is an artist revelation. We talked with him.
You won artist revelation at the TMA. Congrats! You already got Finalist at the “Song of the Year” contest, and Semi-Finalist at Unsigned Only… It looks like your song has a great echo. Can you tell us more about the origin of the track?
Sure! Originally the track came from a challenging period in my life. I always turn to writing music when I’m dealing with difficulties, because for me it continues to be a good way to cope with and understand what I am going through.
Most, if not all of my music, comes from real events I’m going through, for better or for worse.
Fallout was cathartic for me—I lost a best friend over a situation that hit me out of left field. Betrayal is a tough emotion to deal with, and I can’t tell you how important writing was toward processing that event.
You are NY born, but living in Nashville. Did you come down there in your search for rock’n’roll / country music? Do you feel Nashville still is the city for music opportunities?
Surprisingly, I didn’t move to Nashville to pursue music! I actually came because my family relocated due to a work relocation for my dad. But I did fall in love with performing and writing rock and country music living in Nashville, whereas in LA I concentrated only on pop music. I have had a lot of great mentors both in Nashville and in LA that have taught me so much over the years. I don’t think I would have the diversity I have now and would be the artist I am today without having lived in both locations. I do think that certain opportunities may be easier to pursue in Nashville, for instance if you are solely a country music artist, but I think LA holds equal opportunities for indie, rock, and pop artists. Nashville is definitely growing though in its scope of prospects for all kinds of artists. Americana is really on the rise.
Fall Out is the last song listed on your album Souvenirs and Secret Doors. And one of the last lyrics is “I HOPE ONE DAY YOU’LL FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKIN’ FOR”. What are you looking for with your music?
I think music, regardless of where you come from, bonds us all with simple truths. A lot of people have gone through the same things in life, and music allows us to voice that in a melodic way.
There is a saying, “When words fail, music speaks.” I can’t explain why music can touch so deeply, but I have always felt that it’s my best connection to people—much more so than a straightforward conversation, in my case. I’m more capable being honest and open in a song. Not that that’s ideal!
You published lately a song from Eric Church on your Facebook. Who are the artists that you would dream to work with, or that have an influence on your music?
Eric Church would certainly be one of them, because the way he connects with his fans is nothing short of amazing. I’ve looked up to him for years as far as how he works with his followers, and the way he organizes his shows as an experience for them. People go to shows to encounter moments. Jeffrey Steele is a master at this—his music comes from his heart, and his enthusiasm at sharing the stories behind the lyrics and connecting with the audience is remarkable. He’s honest, above all, and people can feel that. Along with those two, I would love to work with Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20. Rob’s music was something my parents and I bonded over on the car rides to school, and I’ve always loved the way he writes and produces quality content. Old songs, new songs—they just don’t age.
Do you perform on stage? What are your next shows?
I do perform on stage–its probably my favorite thing about my job! I currently have some upcoming dates in China, which is where I spend about half of the year, both studying for my master’s degree and touring with my band. I’ve performed there for the past six years for audiences between 50 and 10,000, at festivals, live houses, and university campus concerts. I have a number of songs that were written in English, but I’ve translated the choruses into Chinese and that works out great. But I am currently putting some things on the books in the greater Nashville area too!