We caught up with Jackson Harris just before he hit the road with Cody Simpson on his European tour. He chatted with us about his music, dream collabs, tour, and what to expect from him soon.
Who is Jackson Harris?
Jackson Harris is a New York kid who was born and raised in New York City. I am a musician, a YouTuber, and all over lover of anything internet related. The last few years I have been putting out music and touring. I am opening for Cody Simpson on his European tour.
When did you start taking music seriously?
I was about 14/ 15 [years old] and all my friends were starting to figure out what it was they were good at, like music, sports, academics. I always really loved singing and I really love making music. I’ve always wanted to play an instrument and I picked up a guitar with a few friends who enjoyed making and writing music. I started around 16 writing songs. Ever since then I graduated high school, and I decided to forgo the college route and just focus on music as much as possible. And it’s taken me here.
Do you prefer being on your own label versus being under someone else?
It’s tough, you gotta play both sides. You want to have the freedom to make what you want and work with the artists you want and put out the music you want to put out. But then you’re competing with the mainstream labels that have hundreds of millions of dollars and history with these radio stations. But I think slowly and surely things are changing; the internet gives the ability to release things when you want. It will soon be a level playing field.
What is your writing process?
It’s kind of different and difficult. I’d like to say it’s really easy while other artists will it takes an hour or two, but it takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of time. So for me it’s about the certain phrases, sentences, or melodies that stuck in my head that I’m singing to myself. I’ll record them on my phone and I will bring them to the studio. I work primarily with two [groups] of people, Valentin, he is my co-writer and producer on all the previous music I’ve done. Much more recently I’ve been working with a writing group called, The Elev3n, who consists of David [Rodriguez], Matthew [Morales], and James [Morales]. They’ve previously written for Meghan Trainer, Cody Simpson, Jesse McCartney, Jason Derulo. So we are exploring different sounds. I write stuff about girls cause that’s always fun. But more importantly where I am right now as a 22/ 23 year old trying to figure out life.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Ryan Tedder from One Republic. I love One Republic. They are very underrated he is one of my favorite song writers. He’s written songs for people you don’t even expect, from Beyoncé to John Mayer, to Drake, to Justin Timberlake. He’s just so accomplished and so smart that I’d just love to work with him.
How do you feel about going on tour with Cody Simpson again?
It’s going to be a lot of fun! It’s going to be a trip in a few different ways. Cody and I met last summer. We hopped on to his European tour and it was kind of trial by fire and I wasn’t sure if we would get along or if he was going to be into my music. But from the second I showed up in his dressing room he was like, “Hey man. What’s up? Come on in.”, “It’s good to meet you.”, “We’re going to have a great time.” Which is rare to have the main act to really embrace you and we became quite good friends. His team and his band is the other reason we wanted to join the tour again because they’re real people, they make real music, and they’re really nice. As you know in this business you get a lot of different personalities and it’s great it’s really nice to meet another group with the same ambitions. Cody and I just want to make music and this tour is going to be 22 shows in under 30 days so it’s going to be intense. And I get to hear Cody’s new music too. Which I’m excited about.
Do you have any surprises for this tour?
Yeah! I am working on a completely new set. Last time we went out we had more of my old music, and I was writing a lot of new music when I was figure out the set. I was still trying to figure out my sound and now that we have had a month to prepare and rehearse we’re building a really cool show and has some really cool songs in it. We are trying to have the fans be apart of the experience. Not too much is going to be given away but there might be an opportunity for fans to join along the way!
What is your favorite song to perform (original and cover)?
The original song, to perform is usually the newest one. So right now I just wrote this song, “Dancing with the Devil”. Which I love. But the cover song, I don’t do it much anymore but I love to do, “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z which is always fun because it makes me feel a lot cooler than I am. I picture myself rapping like Jay-Z.
What’s coming up for your music?
I am writing right now. And I have about 4 or 5 new songs, and we are rehearsing for tour. So while on tour we will be working on releasing some of the songs. When we return from tour in May we will probably take June and July to layer and record and maybe do some shows in July in the US. Possibly hop on another tour in the fall. I never know exactly what’s happening until my manager lets me know.
Is there a song out there you wish you wrote?
I definitely wish I wrote Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York”. I unapologetically love her and love that song. No shade being thrown but she’s not from New York. She’s from [Pennsylvania] originally. So as a New Yorker I wish I wrote this song but she’s great. But definitely “Welcome to New York” and “Empire State of Mind” I wanted to write too but I’ll leave that to Jay Z and Alicia Keys.
You have over 45,000 subscribers and over 4 million views on YouTube. How does it feel to be one of the more successful channels?
It’s interesting. I went to Playlist Live in February and I got to see all my YouTube friends. I’ve been lucky to work people like Shay Carl and Charles Trippy and to call those people my friends and they’re in the millions of subscribers, so I see them as successful. When I get told I’m a successful YouTuber, and I look at them and I think, “Oh no I am just starting.” I am very thankful to have the audience I have and I love watching it grow. I remind myself not to get jaded by these numbers – 45,000 sounds good but what about 50,000 or 900,000? Its just trying to stay focus and realize those numbers are actual people and they matter. It’s a trip. It’s fun but its about putting out good content more than anything.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start their channel now?
The one thing I wish I did when I started is grab anything you think you may use like email addresses, or websites or anything like that. Like right now I don’t own JacksonHarris.com some guy from Georgia has it. That’s frustrating. But thats little details but as far as like the execution of everything, one thing I wanted to start doing when the tour starts is to be more consistent with my video releases and always having something to put out and not worrying if its perfect. People just want to see other people’s lives and be a [viewer] and kind of experience it and not be concerned if it’s perfect. They’re willing to watch what you create. Just try to be more consistent and make the videos that you would want to watch.