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#PopularPlay: Thunder Jackson

Photography: Pete Lawrie Winfield

Music

Jul 29, 2020

Thunder Jackson is a real flash, a bolt of lightning, an explosion! The first 5 seconds of “Led Astray” is enough to transmit an energy that starts from the feet and goes to the bottom of the hair. It’s electrifying, it’s intimidating and it’s chilling.

The song is centered around self-destruction and choosing to follow a darker path against your own better judgment and features a blowy and exuberant music video that compels your mind – Seriously! When I was watching I found myself focused on the movements, dance, photography… I felt that Thunder was creating his own universe. 

What’s most incredible about “Led Astray” is how you can feel exactly what the song wants you to feel. Everything is perfectly combined to create that erratic and dark (but not too much) atmosphere, representing our fears, anguish, and that craziness that happens inside our minds.

With an upcoming tour with Milky Chance and many artistical projects being born, the singer has a powerful voice and his unmistakable falsetto is his trademark! He is a complete artist and this is just the beginning of his great musical career.

We were interested, passionate, and curious to find out about his personality, his inspirations, and what makes him so unique (Not only “Led Astray” but his 2017 single “Guilty Party” proves that).
So, well… We couldn’t be happier to have him here!

1. First of all, congrats on Led Astray! The song is incredible and I just can’t stop listening to it!
Well, now I’m blushing… Thank you very much. It’s a song I’m proud of, so it’s always a beautiful thing to hear that people are enjoying it.

2. Tell us about the song. 
Led Astray is an ode to a past life that’s still this life. It’s a path you once lived; a path that sends you barreling into destruction & spins you out of control – but, vicious as it may be, you feel intoxicated by its trance. In some ways, it’s a modern love story to our inner demons.

3. The music video is amazing! It has a vibrant, neon pink video, and you seem a little disturbed at times…The styling is also compelling. In other words, everything came up perfectly together haha! Tell us about the development of the creative process of the video and the filming itself. 
My long time friend and collaborator Pete Lawrie Winfield approached me with the idea for the video – this neon, dark twisted fantasy of sorts. The song portrays a story of desperation and a cry for help so it felt fitting to express these emotions through the visual lens of dance through a neon dream. The styling, and that incredible blue suit and sparkle shoes, was all done by the amazingly talented Liv Khoury – check her out.

4. “Led Astray” follows last month’s release of “Find Yourself”. What differs from both of the songs?
They are both this juxtaposition of life, but on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. One is a reminder of a pathway to redemption, the other a pathway to destruction. You can’t have one side of the story without the other. They are analogous with the project as a whole to some extent – enemies dancing together to create something beautiful.

5. Well, those two songs are incredible sneak peeks of what is coming next… What can we expect from the album?
A deeper dive into the sound and spirit of Thunder Jackson. I’m very proud of the album we’ve made and I’m excited to share it with the world. Beyond that, I don’t want to give too much away.. because where’s the fun in that?

6. How do you think coming from a small town in Oklahoma and then moving to LA has influenced your career and the development of your musical identity?
Growing up a young kid who loved painting his face and performing, I didn’t fit into much of any mold in Piedmont. Sometimes we want to fit a mold because it feels like acceptance – from others and even ourselves. In compromising to fit that mold at times, I found myself falling into this sort of “way of being” I felt I had to fulfill. I was able to fully express who I am once in LA, without any restrictions or prescriptions. I think, luckily, that mindset is changing with the youth – Gen Z is really brilliant and emotionally mature and compassionate in a way I don’t think other generations before they have been. And that emotional intelligence allows for greater freedom of expression and less concern about judgment, even in small towns. I think that’s a beautiful thing. No matter where you’re from or where you’re going, being your truest and most authentic self is always the right move. For me, it so happens that I was able to fully commit to being my most uninhibited and authentic self, both musically and otherwise, in LA.

7. Your first contact with music was through your dad, right?! How did this interest in music happen?
Growing up my Dad was in a cover band that gigged around Oklahoma. Eventually, that evolved into him becoming a full-blown Elvis impersonator. My love for performing came from those years being surrounded by so much music all the time. I remember wanting to be a drummer early on but quickly realized I was far more comfortable with singing.

8. What are your biggest inspirations in music? 
There’s so many, but Peter Gabriel, Prince, The Police, and the great Nina Simone to name a few.

9. Well, you have an upcoming tour with Milky Chance, which is awesome! How did this happen and what are you expecting? We are so excited to see you together!!! 
Truly honored to be able to tour with Milky Chance. I remember getting a call from my manager and he pitched the idea that Milky Chance was looking for support for their fall tour. A few more phone calls between my booking team (love ya Christian) and things fell into place. I don’t know exactly how it all came together but I feel lucky that it did. I have no expectations other than to sing my heart out every night and deliver an entertaining show. It should be a lot of fun.

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects, future plans… 
After my astronaut training, record two will definitely be on the horizon… In the meantime, be on the lookout for a ton of new music and content over the next few months. We’re also starting this weekly musical performance video piece we’re calling “The Thunder Show” – I’m excited about that. Check it out on my Vero (Vero.co/ThunderJackson) as well as on my other socials. Last, but not least, a big thank you to PopularTV for the love! xx TJ

OMG, we just can’t wait for this upcoming tour man…… for real! While it doesn’t happen, what about stream Led Astray, huh?!
Oh, and to stay on top of Thunder Jackson’s latest news, go follow him on social media: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.