A 15 Minute Chat with Big Machine’s Jackson Dean

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By Lesley Hastings

Born and raised in Denton, Maryland, Jackson Dean is creating quite a stir for all the right reasons with his debut major label album release, the Luke Dick produced “Greenbroke”.  Signed to Big Machine Label Group in 2021 and now based in Nashville, his edgy country /rock sound and gritty vocals which belie his age combine with some phenomenal songwriting to make him one of the most exciting rising artists on the scene. The album’s lead single “ Don’t Come Lookin’ “ ( inspired by a phrase the free-spirited Jackson would say to his Mother whenever he left home) is steadily rising on the Billboard Country Airplay chart as well as being featured on the soundtrack for Netflix’s “ The Ice Road “ movie and included in the popular TV series “Yellowstone”
A hectic tour schedule has already seen him opening for artists including Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith, Lainey Wilson and Chris Young, and he is currently out on the road with Lee Brice. But I was fortunate enough to get the chance to chat to Jackson recently, an interview that was far too short for all the questions I had lined up but such an interesting and relaxed chat that I hope you enjoy reading. Oh and I love that his initials are JD!!! Cheers!
1. LH  Thanks for your time today….can I start by asking where you’re speaking to me from, to paint a picture like any great country song does!
JD Yeah! I’m in my living room in my spot down here in Nashville 
LH And it’s morning there…are you generally a morning person?
JD I used to be a morning person but not any more! My sleep schedule is pretty much all over the place these days ! 
2. LH Yes, looking at your tour schedule, it’s crazy busy for the next few months with festivals, some headliners and then back out for more dates with Lee Brice….a real mix of shows, does that keep you on your toes as an artist? 
JD Yeah, I think too much repetition would make it less exciting. Part of the allure is you never really know what you’re going to walk into sometimes! Especially with the festival dates, we have no idea how things will go, there’s probably going to be something that goes wrong but we’re just going to do it anyway! But that definitely makes things more exciting! 
3. LH And of course you payed your dues playing the bars back home in the past …..which type of venue do you find more daunting, the upclose and personal ones or shows where you’re looking out over a sea of faces? 
JD It’s not daunting, there are probably some venues where I have to take a breath and and steady myself but I don’t get nervous I just get itchy! I want to feel it, just get out there and get in it! The nerves kind of left after about ten times of being on stage, it’s not like I’m not excited ‘cos I am, but I’m not nervous ‘ cos I know I can do it! Sometimes my hands start itching, it’s just like an adrenalin rush whether I’m stepping out in front of 15,000 people or 500 people. I like them both, but personally I like them right on top of me! 
4. LH I would imagine that one of the venues where you need to take a breath, as you just said, was when you made your Opry debut, congratulations on that honour! Can you talk me through how that was for you? 
JD I remember going there for the first time, it was in the daytime and there was nobody in there and I was thinking “ Oh my God, this would be really awesome to play here” .  And not only that, looking at the circle when I did finally get back there for sound checking and what not, I was just filled with gratefulness. I knew, I understood, that everybody in this town is trying to do this, there’s millions, dreaming of standing where I was about to stand. I could feel the weight of all that, but tried not to think too much about all of that as I didn’t want to freak myself out! But I was about to step out and do the thing that so many of those I look up to and idolise have done, this is where the stood and now I’m about to stand here. Especially doing “ Wings” by myself ..I couldn’t really see the crowd, it was like but I knew they were there, a packed house all the way to the ceiling with a light blue, almost silver light coming at me ….it was like “ Well I’m never going to forget this!” . 
5. LH You mentioned “ Wings”, it’s one of my favourites on the album, and wasn’t that the song that got you the recording deal with Big Machine when Scott Borchetta heard you play it to him? 
JD Yeah, so I was sitting in their conference room, Scott was sitting like 5 feet away…
LH So no pressure there then! 
JD Ha ,yeah just Scott Borchetta ….I like Scott he’s a good dude!….I played one song, I think it was “ Fearless” then played “ Wings” and then he was like “ I don’t know what planet you’re on but I want to go there” and I remember looking at Alison and the A&R crowd and they were like “ Oh my God!!”  . And for ten minutes we just hung out and then he was like “ So do you want to draw papers or what?” . 
6. LH So, fast forward and your well received debut major label album has been out in the world for a few months now. It seems to me to be not only a great introduction to you as an artist for those who haven’t heard your music before but also it tells us a lot about you as a person, was that your intention? 
JD I wanted it to be “ Hello, this is some of what I do. Some of what I’ve created in the last couple of years”. And that record is bigger than anything I’ve done before. My first record I was just sitting at home in Baltimore with a mic on my guitar and singing into a mic, all one-takes, so going from that to playing with Fred Eltringham, Ray Greenberg, Rob McNally, Eli Beard and Luke, and making the record that gets away with some of the moves, some of the songs we put on it, it was so cool! It was such a big change, we were so full on….ok we were full on before, I’ve been together with my band for a long time and we made a record together but not like this one!! 
LH It takes things to a whole new level I’m sure 
JD Yeah, my Dad use to joke when I was leaving and say “ Hey Mr. Big Time, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks”  and now after making that record and playing the shows that we have, doing things like this and talking to people like you all the time….we’ve arrived somewhere, but it’s not quite there yet. We played with Ray Willie Hubbard a few weeks back and I just got a drink, sat down next to my Dad, and Ray started playing this song we love and my Dad looked at me and goes “ I think you’ve arrived!!”. And I couldn’t let myself be like “ Yeah Pop “, it’s still a long way to go! But I definitely realise we’ve taken a coupe of steps! 
7 LH The incredible Luke Dick is all over the album both as co-writer and producer, how did that connection happen in the first place and what was it that made you two click and “ get” each other so much as it appears you do? 
JD Luke writes with the same publishing company as I do, I got signed to Little Louder Music before I had a record deal, there’s guys like Jeff Hyde, Ryan Tyndell, Casey Beathard there. So when I got there the guy that runs it said “ Hey, you need go write with Luke” so we got a couple of dates on the books . He genuinely loves to make noise, make something that’s really awesome and he has really good grooves, great sounds and a really great mind for parts. We like a lot of the same things. I think we work pretty well together, he just pulls things out of thin air and it’s like “ Damn, Luke, thanks for making my brain feel inferior to yours!”. But in such a good way, he wants to do “ the thing “ and I want to do “ the thing” so it’s just like “ let’s do it!”. 
8. LH So let’s look ahead now, to new music and maybe your next album? I’ve heard you say you have a ton of songs written already….is it likely to continue on the very personal level that you gave us on “ Greenbroke” or change tack at all? 
JD I think it will be a mix. There’s some songs we’re looking at now that are really heavy, motivated by what’s going on up here in my head, and then there’s some other stuff that’s really fun ! I’m excited to get to play them and for people to hear…….It’s coming soon! 
9 LH And are we going to get any more singles from “ Greenbroke” in the interim? 
JD I hope so, there are three or four that we could choose from. I don’t know yet, maybe “ Trailer Park” or “ Red Light”, or Fearless”…
10. LH And duets seem to be pretty popular lately among country artists, anyone you’d maybe like to work with in that respect? 
JD You mean collaborate with? 
LH Yeah, like the recent song featuring Ashley McBryde and Carly Pearce 
JD Yeah, I’d love to do something with Carly, she’s awesome…and Elvie Shane, I love Elvie and he does that shouty thing that I do, we could have a contest to see who’s louder. 
11. LH And what about a bucket list co-writer? 
JD ( after a long think) ) …maybe Angelo the guy who did a lot with Kings of Leon, I’m pretty sure he’s in town here….( LH an aside, full name after my googling is Angelo Petraglia I think) 
LH Ha now that’s not even necessary now with technology like Zoom 
JD That part of it has been weird, navigating all that ! I can get up and write with a dude in LA then someone in New York ….yeah probably Angelo, or Chris Stapleton…
12. LH And finally, very briefly as I’m out of time, your schedule looks pretty busy but what are the chances we’ll get to see you over this side of the pond before too long? 
JD I am pushing as hard as I possibly can for that to happen! They know I want to be over there, it’s been a dream of mine for a long time and make music fusion cos I know you love rock music and i know you love country music and love guitars so hopefully soon! 
LH Excellent! Keep pushing please! There’s a ton of questions I didn’t get time ask so maybe next time we can do a face to face interview and I’ll get to ask them and more! 
Thanks so much for your time and have an incredible time playing all those shows you have lined up. 
JD Thank you! 
Stream/Download “ Greenbroke” here https://jacksondean.lnk.to/Greenbroke_UK

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