Jill Jackson interview

touring, unexpected covers, the new album, and more on Monday 24 January 2011

eGigs caught up with Jill Jackson for a quick chat between shows and song writing. Jill's anticipated new album, 'Back to Zero' will be out for release in March, co-ordinated with a 12 date tour accompanying Heather Peace in April.

Gigging seems to be in your blood, especially after starting playing live at the tender age of 15: Does playing live still give you the buzz it did all those years ago?
Playing live is the thing I love most about what I do. If I stopped getting nervous and stopped getting a buzz from live shows I'd stop doing it.

You've played in a successful band [Speedway] and now you're a solo artist, how different is it playing in a band to being solo: And if given the chance would you be in a band again?
I love being a solo artist; I love having complete creative control over my music. I love doing solo gigs. But I also have the pleasure of working with fantastic musicians, as I do still gig with a band. So I get the best of both worlds. In terms of being in a band again, if it was some kind of super group that was put together like Band of Joy – the opportunity to play with some of my heroes – then I'd jump at it. Sharing a stage with the likes of Dolly, Ray LaMontagne, Emmylou and Patti Griffin… Keith Richards – I'd definitely be part of that band.

You've been a solo artist since 2005 and been gigging continuously, do you ever get sick of living out of a suitcase and wish you had a normal 9-5 job?
I do get tired of living out of a suitcase as I like my home comforts, but I could never do a 9-5 job. It's just not in me.

You've just been out on the road with Glasvegas for a five night tour in Scotland, you've provided support for Al Perkins, Bryan Adams, Natalie Imbruglia, Albert Lee and Heather Peace, could you pick one that stands out and why?
Albert Lee, because he was a hero of mine when I was younger. I remember going to see him at the Royal Concert Hall when I was 16 and I waited at the end to shake his hand. And he played with Emmylou Harris, so that makes him a legend. Then when I supported him he came up to me at the end of the night and said "I really loved your set." That was quite special.

What's it like going from a 'support' slot to being the main focus of attention and being the main act? [You've just played an intimate gig at the Soho Theatre- Sunday 9th January].
Being a support act is more nerve-wracking because people are not there to see you. But I like the pressure of trying to win over a new crowd, which happened on the Glasvegas tour. Doing a headline gig, especially in Glasgow, is amazing because I love seeing people singing along to my songs. You can't beat that.

How do you know Heather Peace and how did you end up playing together?
I was lucky enough to have one of my songs featured in the penultimate episode of 'Lip Service'. When the GreatLezBritain girls were organising Heather's gig at Sloans in Glasgow the night after the final episode went out, they contacted me asking if I would be Heather's special guest. Heather and I hit it off immediately.

What can we expect from the tour your doing with Heather Peace in April? You do a few collaborations together how do you choose these?
I'll do a set myself. Then Heather will do her set. And then we do a set together with the band. As for collaborations, I like to do covers of songs that people wouldn't expect, which led to Heather and I doing a cover of Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance' when we played together in Brighton. And in Soho we covered an Usher track. The collaborations for the tour haven't been chosen yet, but it'll be something fun. And unexpected.

Your new album 'Back to Zero' is eagerly awaited by your fans: How long has it been in the making and when do you expect it to come out?
The album has been over four years in the making. It's got songs on it that I wrote three or four years ago, but they're very close to my heart so I had to have them. Then there are some tracks that were written days before we started recording. It's a good mix in that sense, because it reflects various points in my life over the last four years. The album will be released in March of this year.

Are there any tracks on the new album that are very close to your heart?
Yes. The tracks that are closest to my heart are 'Grasshopper', because it's about my relationship with my dad; 'Wanted', because even though it's fun and quirky it still has a message; 'Forgive Me', as that is my version of 'To All The Girls I've Loved Before', and probably the most honest song I've ever written. And 'Heart of Mine', because that was written at one of the worst times of my life. Women are crazy. But they inspire me.

How different is 'Back to Zero' compared to other material you have released?
The album is a big production, more polished and poppy than those that know my solo music might expect. There’s an element of compromise on some tracks in terms of the production but I do love it and I’m very proud of the finished product and excited that’s finally ready. Soon I’m going to Nashville to make my dream album. That album is ready to be made, and I can’t wait.

If you could sum up your new album in five words what would they be?
Super. Calla. Fragilistic. Expi. Alidocious. Or if you want a real answer… Honest. Quirky. Happy. Sad. Spankin'.

Are there any plans after the April tour with Heather Peace to go out on your own and do a tour under your own steam?
Yes I will be touring the new album in the summer, which I'm really looking forward to. I'll be on the road with my brilliant band, so I can't wait.

Can you explain your song writing process? How do you conjure up a song? [Do you start with the music first or lyrics, where do the ideas come from?]
People inspire me. Moments inspire me. I always have lots of melody ideas but for most of my songs the music and lyrics have come to me at the same time. I often think that songs are hiding inside my instruments, waiting to come out. I have one particular ukulele that pops out a song every time I pick it up.

Who would you liken yourself to? [What other artist, if any]
I wouldn't liken myself to anyone, but Patti Griffin and Emmylou are artists that I aspire to.

Who are your musical influences and Why?
Joni Mitchell for her lyrics. Patti Griffin and Emmylou for their vocals and sheer brilliance. One of my biggest influences is Dolly Parton, because her songs are all stories. I think she's one of the best lyricists ever. Ray LaMontage, because I think he’s the most honest songwriter I’ve ever heard and knows how to deliver a song like no-one else.

Do you plan on playing any festivals this year?
I'm excited to be playing the GOGO Festival in June. I'll also be appearing with Heather at L-Beach in Germany in April. I'd love to play T in the Park again this year, but nothing else is confirmed as yet.

You seem to have quite a few tattoos, How many have you got and which one's your favourite and why?
I've lost count. It's somewhere between 25 and 30 now. I have a Dolly Parton tattoo on my leg, which I love. I also love the ukulele on my hand, because I got that in Hawaii to mark the end of the '50 States in 50 Days' tour. I also have a guardian angel on my right arm that I adore. One of my newest is three lilies, which represents my three gorgeous nieces, so that is definitely one of my favourites.

What can your fans expect from Jill Jackson in 2011?
Lots of gigs, lots of fun, and me performing what I feel is my best material to date.

You can catch Jill Jackson on her forthcoming tour accompanying Heather Peace in March/April on the following dates:

31st March Belfast Empire
1st April Classic Grand, Glasgow
2nd April Cabaret Voiltaire, Edinburgh
3rd April Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
5th April The Cluny, Newcastle
6th April Sound Control, Manchester
7th April Brudell Social Club, Leeds
8th April The Masque, Liverpool
10th April The Glee Club, Cardiff
12th April The Tunnels, Bristol
14th April The Glee Club, Birmingham
15th April The Bloomsbury Ballroom, London

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article by: Michelle Owen-Williams

published: 24/01/2011 16:19

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