Sometimes you have to consider yourself lucky because, with all that Jackie Venson has going on this year, it was amazing to get a second of her time. Not only will she be opening up for Gary Clark Jr., but she’ll also be heading out solo AND dropping a new EP at the end of September. The Austin native and I chatted about all she has coming up, her latest single “Flying,” and a lot more.
Kendra: What sparked your interest in guitar, and do you happen to still have your first one someplace special?
Jackie Venson: I used to play the piano and found myself drifting away from it, I supposed I had gotten bored. It all started when I had attended a concert that my friend was playing, he was playing guitar with a band. He just looked so happy and joyous and all I could think was “man I wish I could be that happy playing an instrument”. I don’t have my original guitar anymore, I traded it in to get a discount on my current guitar. However, I do have my second guitar that I played a bulk of my gigs on, I consider it the guitar I truly learned on because it’s the one I played all my gigs on.
Kendra: Being from Austin, did you come up heading out to SXSW and learning from others before you got your footing settled?
Jackie: No, I was a total recluse. I played classical piano my whole childhood which requires a lot of locking yourself in and practicing. It’s a lonely genre.
Kendra: When writing a song like your latest single, “Flying,” who or what are you channeling when you sit down and get to work?
Jackie: I was improvising and practicing and came up with the groove out of nowhere. I really just loved the groove and jammed on it for several hours before I was able to pick out a melody that I thought was nice. The lyrics ended up coming to me because of what I was going through in my life at that time.
Kendra: You got to work pretty hard before you have Transcends coming out at the end of September. With that, albums always seem to be a chapter in an artist’s life so looking at Transcends as a chapter in your own who or what would be the protagonist and antagonist?
Jackie: The antagonist is negativity and self-loathing, and the protagonist is self-love and acceptance.
Kendra: Your summer is one for the books playing alongside Gary Clark Jr. How did this amazing experience come to be?
Jackie: I had run into Gary on and off over the last few years and we always got along whenever we ran into each other. That mixed with the fact that I’m sure folks around town had been bugging him about me. The real story is that his team e-mailed me out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to be apart of it. I don’t think it’s truly random but it seemed pretty random.
Kendra: Speaking of, your Instagram is full of performance shots. Who are you entrusting with that duty when you’re playing?
Jackie: It’s a different person every time, honestly whoever is willing to do it at the time. A lot of them are from professional photographers that were already at the show. I try my best to credit them or at least leave the watermarks in the corners of the photos.
Kendra: You’ve got the gigs with Gary and some solo ones coming up, plus the album. Anything else we can expect from you this year?
Jackie: Definitely some new music videos and more dates across the US.
Kendra: Thinking back to “Flying,” if you had to make a mixtape for someone who was scared of boarding a plane, what five songs would have to be on it that’d calm them down for a smooth ride?
“Clair de Lune”