Q&A: Jackson Wooten

I grabbed coffee with Jackson Wooten to talk about his EP, released on November 4th. Here’s our conversation.

Tell me about the writing in this album, the themes.

I guess I wrote it mostly at my Papp’s farm. In the Shando Valley which is why it’s called the Road Valley. I had a bunch of song ideas I was working on and just needed to get out of town for a little bit. Went there and did the whole, like bony bear, trapped yourself in a cabin thing. Then I wrote these songs and I think about what carried between the songs. It’s related, The relation between them is this idea of trying to slow down and be present and like to find contentment in your life.

Do you wanna talk about each song, bring us through the journey? 

It’s only four songs. The first song is Lovely Day, which kind of is the most upbeat of the songs. It’s the first song I’ve ever released that starts with drums. I wanted it to be like higher energy. The lyrics, more than the other ones, talk about coming out of a darkness or coming out of a sadness and then coming into the light of life. Kind of like, choosing to find happiness.

What that song says to me is that yesterday sucked, it was zero fun and I was depressed, but today can be pretty cool. Thematically like that kind of sets the tone for the next few songs because the next two songs in my mind are about present and kind of practicing gratitude.

Slow, Slow, Slow is the next one. That one’s literally about slowing down your life. I was living in an apartment.  I wrote this song about neighbors and roommates that smoked too much weed and like the walls were paper thin. You could hear everything from the neighbor, everything on the street, everything all around you. So it was just never any peace. 

The opposite of that was being at the farm where it’s just almost too quiet. So I kind of found my peace there.

So then a third song is called Morning, it’s a love song written for the mornings. It’s very ritualistic to make a coffee, open the blinds, pet the cat, and drink the coffee. After that I might write something on guitar, and I think that’s like the best part of the day.

And then the fourth song, it’s honestly kind of oddball out. It’s the one that me and the producer, Jason Bennett, kind of decided we wanted to do whatever we wanted with it and not stay too strictly within community lines of like songwriting. It was just about a Hemingway book, uh, called For Whom the Bell Tolls.

It’s about like this kind of messed up love story in that book, spoiler alert, the main character meets this girl. They fall in love in the middle of the Spanish Civil War. Then he gets his legs blown off and as he’s dying, she’s like, cradling him being like “no, no, don’t, die! I’m gonna die here with you”. As if enemy soldiers are coming in, gonna kill all.

And he’s like, no, you need to live. Basically, it is really intense. It’s called Reborn and it’s about a new life coming out of death and love, and it’s kind of like what is, what does love mean? After someone dies. It doesn’t feel heavy cuz it wasn’t my life. But it’s a really cool story. I’m pretty detached from it, but I felt it. It’s one of those books where you read the last chapter. You just set the book down in, just go, Whoa, okay.

Do you think that this writing is more intimate/personal than what you’ve put out before or, or not?

I think the last bit of music I wrote, the album I put out last year, was very personal. On a darker level, I wrote about the depression I was going through at the time. I wrote love songs too in it, but the love songs were kind of soaked in sadness.

Um, and I was really depressed like it was 2019. Yeah, even before 2020, pre Covid. The older stuff was honestly like I think deeper and darker in that sense. This new EP is just happier and that’s really cool. I don’t know if I’d say it’s more or less intimate but it’s, it’s just kind of where I was at when writing it.

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