Hailing from California, singer-songwriter Jade Jackson will undoubtedly be making her mark on the Americana scene when her new emotionally stirring album, Gilded, releases May 19th. Wrought with stories dealing with regret, freedom, and love, Jackson’s songs are honest, intimate, raw, and intense. While on tour, she kindly took some time to answer a few questions via email about her roots, the album, and more.
Both of your parents were avid music fans who constantly had records playing. What were you exposed to growing up as the songs on Gilded seem to draw from roots rock, country, and even a bit of punk and pop as well?
My dad mainly collected early country, punk, and rock and roll records. I was raised on Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Echo and the Bunnymen, Tex & the Horseheads, Cowboy Junkies, etc. When I was six or seven I got my first Walkman and I listened to albums like No Need to Argue by The Cranberries and She Hangs Brightly by Mazzy Star over and over again. I also listened to a lot of The Pogues and Mark Lanegan at that time in my life as well.
By the time you were thirteen you were writing songs and then at fourteen, you were performing. Since you’ve been writing for a decade, how far back do the songs on the album go? Are they recent, from awhile back or a combination?
The demo that prompted Mike Ness to work with me had my song “Finish Line” on it which I wrote in the summer of 2014. “Troubled End” was an older song that I wrote when I was in a rockabilly band called The Royal Wreckers at age fifteen. The name was originally “Troubles End”, but when Mike heard it he suggested reworking/rewriting it. Together we co-wrote the new version which is what's on the album coming out on May 19th. “Back When” was a song I wrote when I moved home from college with the help from my bassist and old friend Jake Vukovich, I wrote “Better Off” with my drummer Tyler Miller later that year. The rest of the songs on the album are all under three years old. I never wrote with the intent of creating a specific album. Mike and I chose from the songs I had written to create the album we wanted.
There are some sadly realistic songs on Gilded - and sad songs tend to make me the happiest. Are you drawn to them as well and if so, why do you think that is?
I believe Conor Oberst said it best in his song, “Poison Oak” by Bright Eyes, “The sound of loneliness makes me happier”. I've always found darkness beautiful, and since I was a child I have had an infatuation with things that are broken. Songs like The Smiths' “There is a Light that Never Goes Out” or Hank Williams' “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry” put me in a good mood.
Being so young, your lyrics exude this “wise beyond her years perspective.” Where do you draw from when writing – personal experience, others, stories, or a combination?
Writing has always been like therapy for me. When I write down words with a melody in mind, it allows me to release any pain I carry inside. Songs come from a place within myself that I don't fully understand; I write impulsively, and sometimes my songs expose a deeper side of myself that isn't otherwise displayed. Growing up in a small town without a television or computer at home, storytelling and make-believe were my favorite ways to pass the time. I would watch people around me, make up stories about how they lived and how they felt, and later that seemed to manifest itself in the form of songs.
Why did you choose to name the album Gilded, which is also a track on the record?
I fell in love with the sound of the word ‘gilded’ before I even knew the meaning. When I wrote the song, the line “your silver tongue gilded her wings” flooded my mind before I knew what it meant. When I went back to look up the meaning, it was exactly what I wanted to say. Mike had a big role in choosing the order of the album tracks; we basically just listened to them in different orders until we settled on a sequence that felt the best to all of us.
Gilded was produced by Mike Ness [Social Distortion who are known to perform punky country covers]. Why did you want to work with him and what did he bring to the record?
Mike contacted me after he heard about me from his wife, who saw me perform at a cafe. Once he heard some of my music he inquired about producing my album. The bottom line is that his believing in my songs is what made this album possible. Before receiving a record deal with ANTI, Mike invested in a demo of four of my songs. The demo was originally going to be half of the album with Social Distortion as the band backing the songs, our goal was to shop it to labels and get a deal that would pay for the album’s completion. However, things took a bit of a turn because by the time we got the deal and got back in the studio, my sound had already evolved and I'd written quite a few more songs that Mike liked more than the originals. Instead of having Social Distortion finish the album, we ended up re-recording the entire album from scratch with my band: Andrew Rebel (guitar), Tyler Miller (drums), and Jake Vukovich (bass). I've been a fan of Mike's music since I was a kid, so getting to work alongside him was a dream come true.
And now you’re out on tour with Social Distortion, who have a loyal and large fan base. Does it sometimes feel surreal?
The first concert I ever attended without my folks was a Social Distortion concert back when I was thirteen. That show inspired me to pursue a career in music and from that day forward I became obsessed with getting to where I am now. Touring has been a dream of mine since I started playing music; it's something I've worked towards and a dreamed about so long I'm pinching myself still.
What are your professional plans after the tour?
After this tour my plans are to rehearse with my band and get ready for our next tour. Our album comes out May 19th, so I think we will do some press for its release as well.
Finally, what are you listening to? Is there any recent release you can recommend others check out?
I'm honestly an early country and punk junkie. We're currently driving to Boulder, CO from Boise, ID, and I've been going back and forth between Mason Jennings' album Blood of Man and John Fullbright's song, “Until You Were Gone” from his album Songs.
For more information visit her official website
Find Jackson on Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify
Pre-order Gilded HERE
Watch the video for "Finish Line" HERE