So here we are early on a Saturday morning. Each morning when I wake up I hate that the world is suffering so due to covid19. It is enough to make you not get our of bed. Then I open my laptop and enter the digital music world of @skopemag. Music like that of our guest today – Jackson Reed – is a nice distraction. Jackson Reed resides in Calgary Alberta and is making his way into people ears with songs such as “Drive With Care” and his new one “Can You Feel the Rock and Roll” which are both streaming on Spotify now. So enough with me – lets give it over to a musician whose got much to say & do – Jackson Reed!
@skopemag: Where are we talking from today and how has your life been changed due to COVID-19?
JR: I’m in my hometown of Calgary Alberta. I guess the biggest thing that’s changed for me right now has been going to school. I’m taking Journalism at Mount Royal University in Calgary, and my classes moved online two weeks ago. Some classes are a little tougher than others to do at home, but it’s better than having to go to school and risk getting sick. Besides that, things have been more or less the same for me, I’m just not leaving the house.
@skopemag: So many folks in the music industry are hurting physically and financially right now. How do you see this awful crisis playing out?
JR: It’s pretty bad to think about, and I’ve stopped reading the news for that reason. I was starting to lose my mind reading everything, so I’m trying to avoid all that and I feel much better about myself because of it. There’s so much negativity right now, I just feel much more happy if I don’t know what’s going on. The big thing is that this will end, we will overcome it, and life will go on. Until then, we just have to hunker down and get through it.
@skopemag: Have you had any live shows or music-based events that have been canceled and would you consider live streaming to your fans on social media?
JR: Thankfully my last show was on March 1, so I haven’t had anything canceled. I’m thinking about live streaming. I might do something like playing along with the Abbey Road medley, or stuff like that. I’m most active on Instagram, @jacksonreedofficial, so if you follow me there you might see something about live streaming in the future.
DSP – https://open.spotify.com/album/1jMwaOi8uycs1hRkOPxKjp
@skopemag: I love your name – Jackson Reed. Is that the name your mama gave you or a musical alias – and if so how did it come to you?
JR: That’s the name my parents gave me. My mom told me she thought I needed a strong first name to go with Reed, so they went with Jackson.
@skopemag: When did you really take to music and decide to pursue it and how supportive are your friends & family?
JR: Well I’ve been involved with music since I was about three. Thankfully, I’ve got a family that has been extremely supportive in allowing me to pursue music. It started when my parents put me in a music program where they taught us how to read music and all that stuff. I did that from when I was three until I was about nine I think. I was always drawn to the guitar, and when I was 10 I told my parents that I wanted to learn how to play, so I got a guitar and they put me in lessons. However, the summer after I turned 11, I heard Paperback Writer by The Beatles for the first time, and the guitar on that song was just about the coolest thing I had ever heard (still is). That got me even more into it. From when I was 10 until I was 14, I took lessons, but I wasn’t that skilled. I couldn’t solo or do anything like that. I actually stopped playing for about a year. When I was 15, I got put in a guitar class in my last semester of grade nine. My teacher played a little bit of Stairway to Heaven one day, and I realized I hadn’t actually listened to that song all the way through. As soon as I got home from school, I played it and it was another life-changing experience. I then went to try playing it on guitar and I was back in the game. I started taking lessons again and my teacher there taught me a lot about playing blues and soloing. My skill as a guitarist really took off and now I feel comfortable playing almost anything. In high school I began to pursue music as a career, but I wanted to be in a Zeppelin-esque band where I could be Jimmy Page. However, I soon figured out I could do more on my own away from the traditional band setting and started singing myself. When I was 19, I discovered Bruce Springsteen. Everything about him, his low voice, his incredible energy on stage, his relatable persona, was a guide for how I could present myself as a musician and that’s how I am to this day. I’ve been working hard, and the opportunities are getting better. Last year, I got to play some shows in Georgia and Tennessee, and if everything works out I might get to play some big shows here in Canada. I feel like I’m getting close to making this dream of mine a full-time reality.
@skopemag: Your first single “Drive With Care” is catchy & fun. What was it about that song that made it ready to be your debut single?
JR: The title of that one came when I was driving down Crowchild Trail, a busy road here in Calgary. I was stuck in traffic by some construction, and they had out one of those big electronic signs that displays messages to oncoming traffic, and it said “drive with care.” I immediately thought to myself, “that’s a song title right there.” I remembered it, and wrote the rest of the song around it. The recording of that song was the first time I had ever been in a studio. It was August 2017, and we did it in two days. The producer was a guy named Lorrie Matheson, and we recorded it in the studio he built in his garage. I chose to record that one because it came to me so fast, and I thought it had a lot of potential. Really, it was more for me to learn about recording a song and just to have something with my name on it. It did terrible when it was released, but it was more for my learning than anything. I’ll probably re-record it one day because it’s still a good song and I think I could do it even better.
@skopemag: Now you are back with “Can You Feel the Rock and Roll.” Offer us some insight into writing / recording of this single?
JR: This one had a completely different sound to it when I first wrote it in 2018. It was a lot heavier, but it just didn’t feel right. We played it at a few shows, but I began to think about doing it differently. The title was good, but the music itself needed to be stronger. It needed to be tighter. It was around this time when I began to realize I wasn’t going to get far in music if my songs didn’t have potential crossover with the pop world. I began reworking it, starting with using the main riff that I already used in the first version of the song. I was pushing really hard for a pop feel. I went over to see my keyboard player and right hand man, Jeremy Brigham, and I told him that I thought we should have a saxophone on it. He put a saxophone sound on his keyboard, and I played the guitar part I had put together. He noodled around until he played the riff that you hear on the record, and that really blew me away. Once we had that, I finished the rest of the song. Jeremy and I then went to record it. We recorded it with a new guy, Pat McAuley, at his studio which is called Heavy Heart Sound. Pat got along really well with us, and did such a good job getting the sound I wanted. I wasn’t as happy with how Drive With Care turned out, it just wasn’t what I pictured in my head. With this one, I really wanted to get it right. We spent a couple months working on it, rather than two days. Pat did a great job of taking all the ideas I was throwing at him, and using them to recreate what I was envisioning. Jeremy and I played all the instruments on the recording, with the exception of Nicolas Luzzi on saxophone (who is now a member of my band), and some friends of Pat providing backing vocals. I also wasn’t going to do what I did with Drive With Care and not really promote it. I put more into the promotion of the song than the recording, and so far it’s working. It’s been played over 20,000 times through streaming, and got some radio play on some stations out in Ontario. I’m even getting to be interviewed on great music sites such as Skope.
@skopemag: If you were to invest in a music video for “Can You Feel the Rock and Roll” – how would that look visually?
JR: I did put a little video together using footage of a show I played in December (which you can find on Instagram, @jacksonreedofficial). However, I have some ideas if I do end up pursuing a more high scale production. A friend of mine, Brad Simm, came to me with an idea of doing a video that is a single take. Following me around the streets while the song plays, that kind of thing. I originally thought of doing something with a setting like the dance scene in Back To The Future. A 50’s style high school dance with the principal telling people not to dance and everyone’s bored. Then me and my band show up to play the song and everyone starts dancing and going wild. I don’t know if we’ll ever get around to doing a video, but we could definitely come up with something for sure.
@skopemag: When you are consuming music what platform do you use most – e g: Spotify / Amazon / YouTube, etc?
JR: Vinyl actually. I own 341 (yes, I counted) records. Record shopping is one of my favorite things to do. There’s a record shop that I frequent in Calgary called Recordland, and I think it’s the best one I’ve been to. I’ve even been to the big Ameoba store in Hollywood, and Recordland is better than that and all the other ones I’ve been to in my opinion. They have everything you can think of, which surprisingly is something no other record store I’ve been to can say. Vinyl is just awesome. There’s just something about the sound of it, it feels like the band is right there in the room with you. You can’t get that with digital. That’s a big reason why all the music I listen to is from before my time. The production of music was just better in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, than it is today. Besides vinyl, I also play CDs, Cassettes, or I’ll buy an album on iTunes if I can’t find it at the store. I think buying a record in any physical medium, or even on iTunes, shows more support to artists than streaming does. Plus, I grew up in a time when buying a CD or tape was the only option. I’m just used to that so I still do it.
@skopemag: When you are not making music, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
JR: I love sports. When I’m not thinking about music, I’m usually thinking about sports. Hockey is my first love. I’m a huge fan of the Calgary Flames, and I go to games frequently during the season. I was actually at the last game the Flames played before the world shut down a few weeks ago. I also play hockey for fun through school. After that I like baseball, as well as NASCAR if you can believe that. Music is my biggest passion for sure, but sports are a close second.
@skopemag: What would you say to someone who has not heard of Jackson Reed? Why should they give you a listen?
JR: I think I’m doing something that really stands out in this day and age. I want to approach music the same way my idols did. They were incredibly creative and pushing boundaries, while at the same time being commercial, and radio friendly. I want to have an impact on pop culture. I want my shows to be a huge event. I want to be at the top of the charts like the artists I listen to were, and I believe I can do that. I feel not enough artists in this day and age, especially in rock, are trying to do that. I believe if a song is catchy, it doesn’t matter how it sounds or what genre it is, it will do well. I’m writing songs that are catchy. I’m writing songs that everyone can enjoy and sing along with. So, if you’ve never heard about me, but you like rock, you like pop, you like any classic rock artist, you will want to check out what I’ve got to offer.
@skopemag: Although we are in uncertain times, what would you like to accomplish for the duration of 2020?
JR: My main goal right now is to land a record deal, and everything I’m doing right know is working for that. As I mentioned earlier, I’m in the running to be a part of some big shows this summer. If I can get those gigs those would go a long way towards helping me get that deal. Hopefully we get a break from the virus in July and August so that can happen. If I’m able to do everything I have planned this year without the virus interfering, I think things will be looking really good for myself and my future.