Name: Jackson & Sellers
Members: Jade Jackson, Aubrie Sellers
Occupation: Singers, songwriters
Nationality: American
Current release: Jackson & Sellers' Breaking Point is out via -Anti.
Recommendations: Aubrie: The Soul of an Octopus, a book that will show you some of the alien wonders here on earth. A recent piece of music that I liked is "NYC: 73-78" which is Phillip Glass reimagined by Beck, especially the segment that starts around the 6 minute mark.
Jade: I’m the proud big sister of my all time favorite artist, Audrey Jackson. Her oil painting, “Can’t You Hear Me?!” and acrylic on wood painting “Take Care Of Your Light,” are two I recommend looking up!

If you enjoyed this interview with Jackson & Sellers and would like to know more about their work, we recommend the official homepage of the duo. You can also visit them on Instagram, and Facebook.

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

Aubrie: I grew up around music, got my first guitar when I was around 13, and starting messing around with writing here and there not long afterwards. I didn’t start writing “professionally” until I was probably 20 or 21. I was surrounded by traditional country and bluegrass growing up, and I loved Ralph Stanley and Buddy and Julie Miller. Later I discovered rock music like Led Zeppelin, CCR, the White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand, and The Strokes. I also loved old blues like Robert Johnson. All of that music shares a rawness of emotion and a simplicity that I connected with.

Jade: I’ve been in love with music for as long as I can remember. From spying on me teach myself how to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” at the age of four (on a toy xylophone), my parents were inspired to put me into piano lessons. At the age of twelve, my family couldn’t afford lessons any longer so I surrendered to an old guitar my dad had laying around. After learning three chords, I discovered my passion for song writing.

For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice(s)?

Aubrie: I played a lot of Patty Griffin when I got my first guitar, but I wouldn’t say there was necessarily anyone I tried to emulate. I think I had and still have a wide range of influences that naturally came together when I started to write and produce my own music. I would say every time I make a record it’s true to who I am in that moment. There are some core truths there, but I am also always evolving.

Jade: Shell Silverstein, Tom T. Hall, Hank Williams and Bob Dylan are songwriters I looked up to when I began writing. I never intended to be a singer, I just wanted to write songs. As the songs I was writing started piling up, I realized in order to get them heard, by default I’d have to sing. Seventeen years later, here we are.

How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?

Aubrie: I think it’s important to embrace your whole, unique self, so I’m sure that seeps into my music as well. I also identify as a very sensitive person which also naturally comes out in my writing.

Jade: In eighth grade I performed a song I had written in the school talent show. The lyrical content was so dark a teacher pulled me aside to ask if my home life was “okay,” and also If I would change the “offensive” lyrics. Looking back I can see why she was concerned, (laughs), but I refused. Songs should be whatever you want them to be, and you can be whoever you want to be when you sing them. Once you start crafting art with identity, ego or reputation in mind, you’ve lost.

What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?

Aubrie: My main creative challenge in the beginning was probably figuring out what were the elements I loved most in music and how to bring those out in my own music. I’m probably still trying to do that as I evolve and hone in on it more closely.

Jade: When I first chose to pursue the path I’m on now, I thought all I had to do was write songs and the rest would be easy. Over the years I’ve discovered there’s much more that goes into pursuing art as a career than the creative.  Making peace with that has been my greatest challenge.

As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you both, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you’ve made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?

Aubrie: One of the first choices I made was to make a record with no acoustic guitar on it, because I preferred the sound of electric having fallen in love with so many electric guitar-driven records. I also wanted to record to tape because I loved the warmth, and didn’t use any click tracks on my first two records because I wanted them to have a looser tempo and a live feel. I’ve loosened up on my preferences somewhat and just try to stay open to where a particular song or project leads.

Jade: Prior to working on this project I was more interested in melody and lyric than instrumentation, textures and tones. Now I notice and I’m motivated by the curious light cast on limitless possibilities of sonic exploration.

Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?

Aubrie: I think I have an aversion to overly tuned or edited records because it sucks all of the soul out of them, and leaves no room for life and discovery. But I also think a lot of these tools are great when used correctly.

Jade: As I mentioned earlier, my main passion has been lyric and melody. If a technology, or instrument supports the song and makes it sound better, I’m into it.

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?

Aubrie: I have spent a good amount of time writing with other people, and I would say most of the time it isn’t very fruitful for me. But I have found certain collaborators that I write with a lot and it is fruitful. I really enjoy collaborating with other artists that I admire even when not writing, this project is a great example of that.

Jade: I prefer to write alone because it lessens the overthinking part of my brain that can stifle creative flow.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

Aubrie: There is no regular day in my life, I am about as far from a fixed schedule as you can get. I do journal almost every morning, but on any given day I could be doing a million different things.

Jade: I’m practicing the balance of both. It’s difficult for me to feel creative when I’ve created a creative space for myself to be just that, if that makes sense. Songwriting is a therapy that has embedded itself into my life. It’s not something I can schedule, or make an appointment for… although, sometimes I wish it were. (laughs)

Can you talk about a breakthrough project, event or performance in your careers? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it? Is it this project together?

Aubrie: We called this album “Breaking Point” because it definitely felt like an important moment for both of us. I do think, though, that I am always learning and maybe can point to moments but really it’s about how everything adds up. Jade can tell the story of how the project started.

Jade: I headlined the “big” theatre in my hometown a couple months ago and it was one of the most magical nights of my entire life. Standing on a stage that I’ve stared at and wishing I could play for so long felt like I made it to the other side. It was an indescribable feeling seeing the smiles on my family and friends faces, who’d been supporting me since my first open mic, and street busking days.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

Aubrie: I don’t find that I can force being creative, it just happens in moments of inspiration and they often seem to happen randomly, when I’m alone. I find that things that come out easily and quickly often end up being the best ones.

Jade: As I mentioned earlier, overthinking is my biggest creative road block.

Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?

Aubrie: Music is definitely a tool for healing. Listening to a sad song can make you feel understood, but if you’re not careful you can also affect your mood negatively just like you can by consuming other types of media. I think it’s all about balance.

Jade: It’s the songs that hurt that make me the happiest. When a melancholy song moves me, I find joy in knowing that I’m not alone in feeling that way. Without music, I would feel much more lost and isolated.

There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?

Aubrie: I think cultural lines are often blurry, and taking positive influence from other cultures is a good thing and has been done throughout history by all cultures. There is also a need to be conscious and aware of how what you are doing affects others.

Jade: no comment.

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?

Aubrie: Does getting chills count as part of your sense of touch? I often feel music in my body, and laying there with your eyes closed listening to something great brings up a lot of sensations in that way.

Jade: I received my first pair of glasses, or to better put it, sense of sight at the age of four, after being legally blind since birth (unbeknownst to my parents). Fascinating enough, senses are given to us for both pleasure and survival. So when one sense doesn’t exist, your other senses are heightened … like smell, touch, etc ... Perhaps that’s why I rely so heavily on music.

Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

Aubrie: Art is a form of emotional expression for me, and I often think that when art gets mixed with business it really corrupts it. I try more and more to separate art and business as much as possible.

Jade: Art is my own unique and personal fingerprint on the world.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?

Jade: Oh, so much more! For example; the cello is the closest instrument to the human voice, yet it can communicate to all the languages in the world. Lyrics are relative where melody is infinite and unquestioning.

Aubrie: I often talk about why I love simple lyrics. It is common for people to say music is poetry combined with sound, but I don’t think that’s right. Music is music whether there are lyrics or not, and music can move you in ways that words can’t. Hearing music can bring up memories, feelings, and thoughts without even having lyrics. Sometimes it may indicate to you things you are feeling but don’t yet know how or may never be able to express in words.