As I walk across the intersection in Sunset Junction in Los Angeles, a cute girl in a pink shirt and a tutu is being lifted up by a horizontal pole off of the ground, with colorful balloons over her. “She’s supposed to be lifted by the balloons”, Jackson Harris explains to me and watches along with the rest of the cast and crew as they focus on the shot of her being lifted into the air. It’s another day in Los Angeles, as Jackson Harris flew over from New York to shoot his music video for his new single, “Go Crazy”.
In the same location where the music video was shot, by mere coincidence, the day before I interviewed Jackson Harris at the Intelligentsia Café. Jackson Harris is a singer songwriter who gained exposure for his cover of Jay-Z’s “New York State of Mind”, filming his own music video in which he croons the rap-laden song and all the while, having New York City in the background acting as different rooms in his house. Harris left his hometown in New York to shoot his music video with a family he has been a fan of and was very excited to work with. As Harris explains, “it’s starring this very famous YouTube family called the Shaytards. It’s going to be a crazy night out,… I kind of followed this guy’s story and it’s him and his four kids and his wife. He was laying granite a year ago and decided he wanted to start a YouTube channel and he’s every Jack Black type of dad you’d want to have, and called him up and you wouldn’t want to shoot a music video with you and your four kids?, and he said ‘absolutely’.”
The music video centers on Harris arriving at the Shaytards house, asking assistance to help him get to an event, and the craziness that ensues. There are break dancers, and stunt doubles for the kids, 6-foot-tall-male-skater stunt doubles who dress as little kids, and of course, Jackson Harris and the Shaytard family literally running around the streets of Los Angeles. Harris describes the song as, “It was about this quote, ‘forget the real world,(alluding to MTV) I need reality’. This idea of going back and forth from reality and the TV type of world we want to live in, combined this newfound yearning to everyone wanting to party and dance. There’s a little mention of Twitter and Facebook in there and social networks. It’s a fun dance, rock, pop song, hopefully anybody from six to a hundred and six will enjoy it.”
Harris started to write music after listening to poetry and def jam poetry, being influenced by the lyrical story-telling of the art. Harris wanted to write about his own experiences, including past girlfriends, “First started writing when I was thirteen and first song I wrote was about my ex girlfriend. I was sixteen, thought I would never love again. It’s definitely has upset some of my girlfriends to have their names in some of my songs, but that’s what happens when you dump me, so, I like to take the male Taylor Swift approach and say, “your loss” and now you’re going to hear this in every Walgreens, supermarket and airport. It’s not thrilling when you have to sing it all the time, and relive that memory, so you’re like oh, I got the music thing going on and I wonder where she is and I hope she’s really upset that she is not with me. It’s that bitterness, but it started the music, so I can’t hate her for that.”
Jackson Harris also came to a crossroads that lead him to choose between going to University of Southern California, and recording an album, after visiting a friend on the USC campus, he had a chance to enroll in the university, but since he was scheduled to record music the next day, decided that college could wait, and that he was handed a one in a lifetime opportunity to do what he loved.
As Harris explains, “I rather fail at something I like doing than succeed at doing something I hate. I don’t know if I can sit at a desk from 9 to 5 and not to say that some people who do that aren’t loving what they do and are great people, but that’s not me. I feel like that is one thing I try to say to anyone I meet is do what you really love to do. I know sometimes you need to work to pay the bills, but if you focus on what you really love to do, you’ll never really work a day in your life. That’s a mantra I try to have, that’s the mantra Shay Carl, who’s the father of the Shaytards kind of has, he was cutting granite and was like, I hate this, I want to do something I love and get on the radio and talk to people, and a year later he has a six-figure salary with YouTube and has a deal with GE and all these endorsements and that’s because he’s doing what he really likes and excels at that.”
Jackson Harris has a passion for his music and what he does, as I got a chance to visit him on-set of, “Go Crazy”, I could see how he wanted to make everyone comfortable and to have a good time. Harris explains to me that making music is a personal experience, “I didn’t think I had an interesting enough life, who would want to know about what I do, if I was a fan of music, why would I want to listen to me. I focus more on expressing things that I’ve gone through than to connect with people. Doing what I do and writing from a personal space and then afterwards having people connect with that. It’s kind of selfish in the beginning and selfless in the end. “
Upcoming tours for Jackson Harris include the Camplified Tour, touring for tween band camps across the U.S., the Shop ‘Til You Rock tour, a tour across shopping malls around the country and possible tour dates in China.
Visit Jackson Harris on twitter: @jacksonharrisnyc
“Long Story Short” EP now available on iTunes