The best songs have universal themes. When I was younger I wanted to save the world. Now I want to write songs that transcend my own experiences and touch a wide variety of people. With a couple of songs on this CD I think I accomplish that.Scott Jackson on writing songs
Life Altering Moment
Singer/songwriter Scott Jackson, formerly of Prince Albert, is hoping to turn September 2001 tragedies into musical success
Prince Albert Daily Herald
One very bad day in the life of Scott Jackson and his family might ultimately mark the most positive change the singer/songwriter has made in his musical career.
On Sept. 2, 2001, Jackson’s brother-in-law and close friend drowned at a family reunion in Lake Chelan, Wash.
Nine days later, terrorists brought down the World Trade Centre in New York City.
“Those two events were really the catalyst for me to go in a new direction.” Jackson says. “I went back to some songs I had written before and reworked them and they just made more sense.
“A lot of things on this CD arise out of my feelings and the feelings of my family from the day Kevin died.”
The CD, titled My World, marks not only a new direction for Jackson but might be the breakthrough the artist has been seeking.
Born and raised in Prince Albert, Jackson didn’t start out pursuing a musical career – his passion lay more in athletics, particularly hockey.
He grew up playing the Raiders minor hockey system, getting as high as midget AAA and an occasional sniff with the big club, but ultimately his speed and skills could not make up for his lack of size.
It was, however, enough to allow him to continue playing at Augustana College in Camrose, Alta., where his musical talents were discovered.
“I was, literally, singing in the shower, when one of my teammates said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a pretty good voice,’” recalls Jackson, chuckling.
The teammate turned out to be an erstwhile musician and soon the two were working on songs and Jackson was learning to play the guitar.
“Actually, we weren’t good enough musicians to learn other people’s songs, so we had to write our own,” Jackson says. “And some of them were really bad.”
But some of them weren’t. After graduation, Jackson moved to Vancouver in 1992 where he eventually compiled enough decent songs to produce an independent CD in 1995.
Again it was hockey that opened the most important door. Playing drop-in hockey as a way to have fun, Jackson made contacts with some players who also played in the Musicians Hockey League.
The most important of these contacts proved to be Jerry Wong, a guitarist for Damn the Diva, which was competing with Nickelback as top band coming out of the area.
“In fact, Damn the Diva was winning, “Jackson recalls. “They were winning all the awards at that time.”
“Jerry and I just connected. He liked the songs I was writing.”
The problem was that the band Jackson had joined – MK Ultra- was gaining success playing a much harder brand of rock than Jackson’s song writing suited.
The band’s lone CD, Apple, spent five weeks atop the HMV Independent charts and the band earned radio play on local radio station 99.3 the Fox.
MK Ultra also played a couple Music west headline slots and some in-store record store performances.
“I don’t write hard rock songs,” Jackson explains. “But you have to work with what you’ve got and what I had at that time was a hard rock band.”
At a crossroads, Jackson wasn’t sure which way to turn, until tragedy struck his family and the world in September 2001.
“I thought about it for a while, then I called Jerry and said, ‘I want to go in this direction now,’” Jackson recalls. “He said, ‘Great. Let’s do it.’”
“I really wanted to do something that would make a mark the way I wanted to do it.”
Supported by some of the top musicians in Canadian music, Jackson came up with My World, an optimistic collection centered around seizing opportunity and moving forward, even in the face of tragedy.
The music is heavily influenced by the British pop sound of artists such as Radiohead and U2, as well as music from alternative country scene artists like the Jayhawks and Ryan Adams.
Jackson’s fundamental principle is just to keep it simple.
“Melodies in particular should be fairly simple,” he says. “I like to test my songs on my kids. If they aren’t bouncing to it or humming along with it, it doesn’t work.
“The best songs have universal themes. When I was younger I wanted to save the world. Now I want to write songs that transcend my own experiences and touch a wide variety of people.
“With a couple of songs on this CD I think I accomplish that.”
My World has had only limited release so far to select markets south of the border. The plan is to build up an audience in places that are less competitive and more open to new sounds than major centres.
“In Vancouver, you have 300 bands all fighting each other,” he notes. “Bands are happy if they get one spot a week on the Fox.
“We are getting four or five spots in the markets we are in. People know about us, they recognize the songs when we play them live.”
Jackson is hoping for the opportunity to introduce his hometown to his music in the near future. He is trying to line up a concert at the Rawlinson Centre sometime in the fall.
In the meantime, he has a performance in his new hometown of Maple Ridge, B.C. where he lives with his wife Laurie, their daughter Taylor, 7, and son Noah,4.
He then returns to the studio to record at least four more songs with the bad he has been working with lately. He says the current group is extremely talented.
“It’s actually daunting for me because they are so good at what they do and I just sort of hack out a few chords and sing,” he said.
Jackson says he may go on the road for an extended trip next summer, possibly touring festival sites in Western Canada.
But while his goals remain modest, his dreams remain big. He says he has no problem envisioning himself and his band playing sold out shows in front of giant crowds.
“Everybody wants that,” he says. “Everyone wants to play before thousands of people, lighting lighters and swaying and the whole works.
“Right now, I just think it would be nice to make a bit of money off some of my songs and play for people who respond to my music. If someday I headline somewhere, that would be great.
“If that doesn’t happen,” he adds with a shrug, “that’s part of it. I’m still proud of this latest CD. People have said they connected to it. That means quite a bit.”