Austin-based independent pop artist Jxckson delivers his best lines with a smirk. Jxckson describes his sound as “Pop Fusion” – taking the foundation of pop music and experimenting with different sound elements like hip hop and rock.
Jxckson’s long journey to the starting line began with his 2019 debut single “Icarus”. Spending years climbing up the corporate ladder, Jxckson woke up one morning and realized he’d let other people decide how to live his life and had enough. Singing and dancing since the age of 2, he just knew this was what he was meant to do. Now Jxckson turns his decades-long love affair for pop music into writing infectious melodies with witty lyrics and metaphors.
Jxckson has since been mentioned in PAPER magazine, them. magazine, and his previous single “Mango” reached #1 on popular indie LGBTQ+ blog Q Review’s music chart.
What’s your story as an artist?
My long journey to the starting line began with my 2019 debut single “Icarus”. Before this release… I’ve spent years climbing up the corporate ladder. After years of just working and griding, I woke up one morning and realized I let so many other people encourage how to live my life and had enough. Focus on school. Focus on a career. Focus on moving up. Music can be for fun. But what if this was what I was meant to do, and I’ve denied and wasted all this time not investing on something that could make me happy? I’ve been singing and dancing since the age of 2, so something in me just knew this was what he was meant to do. Now I turn my decades-long love affair for pop music into writing infectious melodies with witty lyrics and metaphors.
I like to describe my sound as “Pop Fusion” – taking the foundation of pop music and constantly experiment with different sound elements from hip hop to rock.
What inspired this last release?
I wrote “The Low” right before the pandemic started. I shelved it because I felt like I needed to explore a bit more before tackling this song. Which I’m grateful I did because I’ve spent a lot of time figuring who I was as an artist and how to bring my own artistic ideas to life.
I love storytelling in general – so “The Low” is one where I tell the story from the perspective of the “other lover” fully accepting their role in the love affair. Not exactly sure where the idea came from, but I wrote the spoken pre-chorus first and just had this Film Noir-like vision of a confident person dialing up their secret lover for a late-night forbidden rendezvous.
Do you get inspired by other art forms?
Absolutely! Movie and television are both huge inspirations. I’m a visual thinker – so anytime I write a song, I imagine what a music video or a movie scene would like for it. This typically inspires the verses of my songs. When I wrote “The Low” I imagined a black and white Noir-style film of a man waiting by the hotel room phone. I kept thinking… what would this guy say once the phone rang? Would he be bold enough to make the call first? It all plays out in my head like a movie.
Any funny anecdotes from the time you were recording or writing this?
The various dial tones and phone noises were not originally intended. When I heard the initial cut of the track, I felt like it needed something. Then one night in the middle of the night it hit me… I imagined the pre-chorus as a phone call… so why not lean into the phone references? I immediately gathered all the samples and send this long email with them attached to my sound engineer. Mind you it was like 2am and looking back, I’m sure I sound a little crazy haha. But all great art sounds a little crazy I guess. My engineer loved the idea and we incorporated and played with the different sound effects.
What’s your favorite place or environment to write?
I always do my best writing sitting on my living room floor. I don’t know what it is about that spot… but the ideas, melodies, lyrics… everything really… just effortless flow when I sit there. Maybe there’s a secret mental portal that allows me to tap into my creativity or something?
What’s a record that shaped your creativity?
Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this lately and I would have to give that to Billie Eilish and her ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ album. I’ve been a fan of Billie’s since she released the “Bellyache” music video. But that album in particular opened up my mind to experimenting with sound effects in my music. I first did in my song “That Summer” which features footsteps and crickets’ chirps – and it transformed the song. Now I try to find a way to work in other sounds in my music. The first new song being “The Low” which has the various dial tone effects.
Who is an artist or band you look up to today?
I’m inspired and look up to so many artists. One artist I look up to a lot is Tinashe. She is such an underrated talented queen. I saw her live a few months back and was in awe of how she can put on a show with just two dances and few platforms. She deserves her flowers and I am constantly inspired by her. From singing, dancing, to keeping true to herself – she’s someone I look up to as an artist.
What excites you the most about what you do?
I’ve always been a creative person. There’s something about taking something that doesn’t exist – and writing/creating it into existence. I love every creative touch point of a project. Writing, cover art, figuring out the visuals – every step of the way excites me. Then the best part… performing and seeing how people receive that art.
What is your view on genres and music styles since you mix a lot of them in your music?
I’m not against genres per say, but there’s a lot of gatekeeping with our genre labels. Especially being a black artist, people are hesitant to label us anything but R&B. Don’t get me started on the “Urban” music categories. We know what they mean. There’s just this weird obsession of wanting to fit artists in boxes. I think that’s why I embrace this idea of pop fusion. At it’s core, I like making music that makes people feel sexy, good, confident… popular music that provide a moment to escape or reflect. I got tired of trying to figure… where I fit in as an artist and think it’s time for people to not get trapped in trying to gatekeep their favorite genres.
What does music and art mean to you?
It means freedom and expression. In person, I’m naturally an introverted and quiet person. But the moment I put on my Jxckson cape – I feel unstoppable. I feel like the confident things I sing and talk about it. It’s had an amazing impact on my personal life because at the end of the day… it’s not a mask or a persona… but a projected self-image of who I am and the things I strive for. So it’s freedom.
How would you describe your act in one word?