Jackson Thomas : Williamstown : Melbourne, Australia
“You are your friends; you are who you hang out with. So I’m surrounding myself with a good network of creative people. Every young business-person has a mentor and I think it’s important for music too.”
Jackson Thomas is a dreamer; and it seems the last 12 months has provided him with the means to make his way towards one dream after another. He’s sensibly capitalising on the dedicated audience he fostered on the Australian version of the reality TV sensation: The Voice. Having been launched from relative obscurity to end up as a favourite under the guidance of megastar Ricky Martin, he won over a large audience (and has generated an Instagram following of nearly 17000) with clever approaches to popular songs and, of course, his boyish good looks. Media events, high profile performances, flights, hotels; it’s been a roller coaster ride in full view of an audience of millions. An opportunity that countless budding superstars would kill for and only few get to experience.
It didn’t end as his fans had hoped with the title of runner-up, and he’s open about not being picked up by Universal Music at the conclusion of The Voice 2014. Both realities are clear and understandable disappointments, but he seems to be looking forward to overcoming more important challenges. He has chosen to head internally with his music in an endeavour to stay true to what he believes – a deliberate decision to work with others to help navigate the creative process and grow his craft. And like all artists, he oozes passion, focus and excitement.
Of course, it wasn’t always celebrity and screaming fans for Jax and he talks with an easy honesty about his younger self and a genuine frustration that he hadn’t spent enough time engaging and exploring his potential with more creative people. But, as with most adolescents, the expectations of what others see as the best thing for you can weigh heavily and ultimately dictate youthful decisions and interests.
“At school it was all about the sport. I wish I had done more music and art – to take nothing away from people I hung out with – I just wish I probably had learnt my craft a little better then; songwriting and stuff like that. I wish I did more original music back then”.
He did spend time developing his creative side outside of school, however, through mediums like amateur theatre that allowed him to find a comfort level working with others and performing on stage to live audiences. He was confident and accomplished in any show he found himself cast in but, for the barely discovered creative personality inside him, the fit still wasn’t right.
“I think music theatre is great, but you’re always being someone else. You’re always playing a role. As much as someone is telling you “oh you did amazingly and you’re a really good singer” it’s not really you; ever”.
It’s absolutely clear that his self-described “jock” days are far behind him and there’s a palpable annoyance that he feels he could have developed himself more as an artist over the years; to have invested more in how he positions himself now and what he aspires to actualise. It’s a frustration that many people share – not just creatives – and it’s an obvious fuel for him to dig in harder and drive himself towards his goals.
Jax has also come to recognise the need for a solid foundation of personal relationships to help facilitate this; friends and family who appreciate the delicacy of supporting new works, scary decisions and career defining manoeuvres. It’s of particularly huge importance to him as he draws strength and stability from those around him; giving him the necessary encouragement and support to take risks with his music.
“I speak to Ricky (Martin) and he always gets back to me promptly and gives me advice; “yes or no”, or “give it a go and see how it goes”. His lesson for me was this: “…as long as you’re doing music”. Say your main goal is being a big solo or band artist but you might do a musical theatre production for two months of the year – it doesn’t matter. You’re still doing music; so you’re still going up towards that goal. I’m also in a really good relationship right now with a girl who I can just talk to about everything that’s going through my head and she can understand and give advice when needed”.
At the moment, it’s all about his music. New writings, new explorations; countless hours of work to get the melodies and words circling in his brain out into the world. He seems to have a clear picture of who we wants to become and how he wants his sound to develop, but balances that intelligently with enough freedom to allow his experiences to shape that from day to day. There is a determination behind his trademark blue eyes, and this is a very talented man focused on exploring who he is an as artist yet not particularly interested in finding one specific answer; it’s the everything else that seems to drive him, and it’s exciting.
You can follow Jax via his Instagram account here
Jax’s new self titled EP (with duo Edison Jacket) is also available via iTunes.