Indie Music Bus receives emails from so many sources every day but this one caught our eye! This is an interesting story to us because it began with an email we received from a music industry student at the University of Southern California. It is for an assignment with another student in the same school who is a Popular Music major. The PR student, Joselle Vega, had to land two interviews for the artist, Sophie Feldman (JACKSON), and have them published before a deadline. We felt this was a unique opportunity for all involved and accepted. We hope to see more from both students after graduation and also from other students in the future!
It was towards the end of hurricane season. Walter was listening to “If We Were Rain”, written and performed by Sophie Feldman. He unexpectedly slipped his headphones over my ears. He only does that when he finds someone new and exciting. I was so impressed I sang the first bit and hummed the rest to my no-tech-know mom, who is harder to impress, and she loved it though it came from me. You just have to love the moms and just imagine how many people just Sophie can reach. Some people don’t have to shout to be heard. Sophie has a video accompaniment to “If We Were Rain” where the team did an excellent job to showcase Sophie’s talent of voice and guitar.
The reader should know that Indie Music Bus originates from Florida. It seems the entire East Coast has felt the drenching rains and gale force winds this year. It takes more than just any ol’ rain song to impress indie music lovin’ coastinians. A couple of weeks later, our anticipated response to questions from Sophie arrived. I gave her a fresh listen, and I was once again blown away. Now that I’ve read more about her, I’ve gained new respect, maybe even some insight as to how she has risen. Not just talented, she blends her musical influences into originality rather than imitation. I added her to my favorite artist list on Spotify and the song to my “rainy day” playlist. That was my introduction to Sophie Feldman.
Joselle Vega PR:
Jackson is a singer-songwriter powerhouse that focuses heavily on biting honesty and the beauty in juxtaposition. She finds elegance and charm in the contradiction between her feminine persona and the traditionally masculine name she performs under. She rebranded in March of 2021 to fit this new focus and has blossomed into an indie-rock powerhouse. Jackson made her live performance debut last month, September 10th, 2021, at El Sid on Sunset in Los Angeles. At this show, she performed new music that she plans to release at the top of year.
Interview Questions and Answers
Describe what you think it was your parents saw in you when you were very young that led them to seek music lessons for you, was it that you were dancing, singing, or something else?
My parents picked up on how transfixed I was by music as an infant, and as soon as I could talk, I was making up songs and singing them to myself and anyone else who would listen. When I was six I was allowed to choose an instrument to learn, so I picked guitar, and ever since then, my parents have supported my creative endeavors every step of the way. My mom was a children’s book author/editor and my dad studied history, so they instilled in me a deep love and appreciation for words and storytelling, along with great taste in music 🙂
This is probably a question often asked in your future but perhaps we will be the first! What influenced you to choose the stage name “Jackson”?
Had I been born a boy, my name would have been Jackson. I love wearing this typically masculine name while owning my femininity, and subverting binary gender stereotypes with my music and presence.
Are you still influenced by the music you heard while growing up or have you taken a different path now in your music and song creations?
Yes! I’m still heavily influenced by the artists I grew up listening to. My parents introduced me to Alanis Morissette, Paul Simon, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Crosby Stills and Nash, Carole King, Fleetwood Mac, Coldplay, Phil Collins, REM etc. and I’m eternally grateful to them for raising me on these artists rather than The Wiggles 24/7. (Fruit Salad is a bop though) I love combining my earliest influences with the artists I’ve come to love independently from my parents: Radiohead, Taylor Swift, Joni Mitchell, Miley Cyrus, BANKS, etc.
How involved are you now in the production of your music for your songs?
I’m involved in every step of the process! I am a co-producer on almost everything I make. For my upcoming project, most of the songs started as demos that I produced on my own. I’d been producing since high school but started really digging into using Logic independently over quarantine and it’s been a sometimes frustrating, but overall extremely empowering experience.
Describe your songwriting and music creation process. Is it lyrics or music first or a mix? Also tell us a little about what influences your new songs.
My process changes dramatically on a song-to-song basis, depending on if I’m alone or in a session, who the session is with, where we happen to be writing, etc. It’s really important to me that I am as flexible as possible with my “process” because I never want to feel like I’m following a template when I write. Sometimes I pick up my guitar, fuck with the tuning, and mess around until I come across something that sounds cool. Sometimes I am journaling or having a conversation and come across a word or phrase that I can expand into a song. Sometimes I’m humming while I fold my laundry and get caught on a hook. Other times, I sit down with the explicit intention to write, so I open a logic project or comb through splice or instrumental tracks my friends and I have made and work on a top line. I love going in with different goals/moods in mind, and I love writing just for the sake of it.
How has New York, your birthplace and growing up in Seattle influenced you relating to music?
Just like with masculinity and femininity, I love leaning into the contrasting elements of my bicoastal upbringing. New York and Seattle are both FULL of incredible music history: in high school I worked at the Seattle Museum of Pop Culture and helped curate an exhibit about the birth of hip hop in NY! The grunge aesthetic that I tap into for writing and production obviously comes from Seattle. The poetry of artists like Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith is inextricably linked to New York. And now, living in LA, I’m influenced by Laurel Canyon and modern dark-pop, too!
Going to the University of Southern California for songwriting was a great move and will serve you well! How has what you learned there changed how you approach new song ideas?
I agree 🙂 Coming to USC as a Pop Music Performance Major was the best decision and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to get such an incredible education in LA and surrounded by classmates and professors who inspire me every day. Here I’ve been encouraged to experiment in an environment where it’s safe to fail. I’ve been stretching myself in every direction (genre, instruments, production). I’ve gained a musical vocabulary of references I may never have come into contact with, and have learned essential communication and collaboration skills, too!
What are your basic plans for releasing music? Will you use a team or try to do it mostly on your own for the release phases?
I’m planning to release music in the spring independently, but not alone! I have an amazing community of collaborators at USC and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without them — My band and the producers/writers I work with are all people I’ve connected with through school!
Tell us about your “Bumblebee Books” project!
Bumblebee Books is a group I started towards the end of the summer. I’ve always been a “word person” and grew up devouring books. As a songwriter I’ve found reading to be such a creatively nourishing activity. If I connect with a character or come across a new favorite turn of phrase, they inevitably influence what/how I write. When I finish a good book, my instincts are always to 1) write 2) talk about it with anyone who will listen to me. I figured that if I got some of my friends together to read, I’d have built in outlets for those conversations, and we could encourage each other to write about them. The meetings are always super loosely structured, we just let the discussion move naturally, and then we come up with prompts ahead of the next meeting.
Do you use your guitar as an aid in songwriting or some other instrument?
Yes! I almost always grab my guitar when I’m feeling inspired to write — I sometimes write on piano, too, but I’ve been on a guitar-writing kick because the music that I’m most influenced by is guitar-centric (Joni, Radiohead, etc).
How do you “jot down” ideas for songs, using a digital device or trusty paper and pencil?
I am a slut for a graph paper moleskine notebook. I bring one with me almost everywhere and it’s really important to me that I make time to journal/jot ideas down every day. If I don’t have my notebook with me, I use my Notes app, but I will definitely write it down on paper as soon as I get home. I’m also always grabbing voice memos when melodies arise out of thin air, or to catch a sound for sampling.
What is your dream venue or location where you would feel like you have gotten to where you want to be in your music career?
The Showbox and the Neptune Theaters in Seattle were my favorite places to go in high school, so I think it’d be really special to play a hometown show there.
We read that you don’t mind working with just about anyone but who would be your top pick to collaborate with and why so?
They can be alive or not. If I ever had the chance to work with producers Rick Rubin or Jack Antonoff I might pass away. Artist-wise, (in no particular order) my dream would be to write with/for Taylor, BANKS, Phoebe Bridgers, Stevie Nicks, and Thom Yorke.
KEEP UP WITH JACKSON: