It was chance that Indigo happenned upon Jackson McLaren, a young talent with nothing but the world before him. We somehow found ourselves at a table with a talented bunch of Queenscliff artists who had retired for the night but not quite to their beds yet, having a few drinks as the spirit of the festival would have it, and even a rap battle that varied in ability from the likes of Megahorns pros to the pathetic attempts of us from Indigo. It was at this table that we met 18 year old Jackson McLaren and were lucky enough to get an indepth view of his rapidly escalating musical career.
We asked Jackson what brought him here to Queenscliff, and what he does, not knowing about him previously.
"That was the lovely work of my booking agent, I'm a solo musician. I was originally from Warrnambool. It's about a 3hr drive from Queenscliff. I moved to Melbourne in January. It's great, near the venues, and the airport, which is convenient"
What kind of stuff do you play?
"I don't like talking in terms of genres, but I guess you have to. I play guitar and I sing, when I play live.
When I'm doing my demos I do bass and drums as well. I'll record each track seperately. I have a great backing band as well."
What's influenced you?
"My folks are both musicians, so you know, a steady diet of Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and that kind of music. Putting a genre on it, that sucks.
What's your music career been like?
"I've been doing gigs since 14, when I was just feeding off music and discovering some sort of musical path, for lack of a better word. I went solo a few years back and have been gigging a lot.
When I was playing in Warrnambool last year I supported Josh Pyke. I got along really well with him, then got a call from his manager a couple of days later and we put up a record contract, so management, publishing, merchandise, recording, so yeah, I went touring with Josh and then we did an EP in his appartment; he's got it set up as a recording studio so we did the vocals and guitar there and then went to a studio in Sydney to do the rest of the EP. So did a bit more touring with him and then went on then went on tour with a band from Ireland called the Swell Season, and then just getting on lots of supports and lots of regular Sydney shows. I've just been trying to get a really good organic vibe happening.
Next year is going to be really really exciting.
Next year I think I'm going on tour with Gillian Welch and then heading off to America on a writing trip, going to go to south by south west. Going to stay in New York with Josh (Pyke) for a week or so, going to go backpacking around Europe for a little bit and just try and play at any pub possible and get a vibe going over there. We're not quite sure if we're going to do the album in Australia or America, because were looking at the producer that did the Shinns and the Fleetfoxes and he's based in America."
So Did you just finish school?
"I had my last exam about 2 weeks ago which was literature, so finished year 12."
Did you go to all your exams sober? "Not quite..."
So whats after school, any further education planned or is music the go?
"Next year is going to be quite busy doing music, it's just great that year 12 is done, so I can always do that.
This year i've been litterally getting off the plane from Sydney to Melbourne and straight to school, so that was really tiring and draining, so next year I can focus on music and if it falls in a hole I can go and study literature or art or that but hopefully it doesnt."
Indigo - we're rooting for him.
The final question: Give us just one specific answer, If you could give one piece of advice to up and coming musicians who want to get where you are, what would that be?
"I think a lot of up and coming musicians, it must be something to do with the pressure from friends and family, and its not just music it's all kinds of art, visual, dancing sound, people say "you can't do that, that industry is fucked and theres no way you can break into that because that's what famous people do" and that's what makes most up and coming artists scared and think they can't acutally make it but the thing is that is really flawed and stupid, because you can do it, it's really not that hard to get signed or get a manager or a booking agent, you just got to make phone calls, play shows, you might meet a muso you really click with or you might just be in the right place at the same time but it is really really possible, It's just like wanting to become a doctor or a lawyer, but it's just a different path. It's not hard. You've got to want to do it, you can't do it for the money or the girls or the drugs and the booze, you just gotta really like music and if you like music then you can do it."
Jackson was apologetic at the length of his final answer, but we didn't mind too much. I for one felt it was advice that was really accessible, honest and inspiring, and it's amazing to hear such wise words coming from a boy of only 18.
We caught Jackson the following day at Stoked on Hesse, the local church stage. His songs told anecdotes about his life and all that he'd already encountered and the numerable crowd that had gathered at the church listened eagerly. I had a listen to Jacksons EP to get a better idea of his music.
'Farewell this house' spoke of leaving Warrnambool to move to melbourne, reflecting on himself as he makes the bold move. Bold and upbeat riffs embody positivity about the journey he embarks on, and accompany the maturity in his voice, and those influences he spoke of come out.