How a country girl from Coonamble ended up writing and recording in Nashville.
Budding country-pop star Max Jackson is in a happy place. She’s released two singles in the last month and her music is taking her around the world.
A graduate of the prestigious Talent Development Project, that cultivates student performers, she has been spending her time as a behind-the-scenes songwriter travelling between Australia, Nashville and Los Angeles and working with numerous talents on their projects.
Having worked for 10 years on her first album Life of the Party, Max is getting ready for the big debut early next year. And she couldn’t resist telling her own life story after writing for others for so long.
Before she heads out on tour again, I took the chance to ask her what it is that makes her the human version of fairy dust, glitter and everything that sparkles.
T: So you’re releasing music!
Max: Yeah. Finally!
T: You’ve got ‘Saturday’ and ‘How to Love a Girl’ out in the world, congratulations!
Max: Two songs out, thank you for that.
T: Where do you get your inspiration for your songs?
Max: Every single song on the album is really out of my life. It’s just a piece of my story. I wrote a lot back to my childhood and also wrote into my future. But very, very personal songs about my family. It’s just telling my story.
T: So, tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your career so far, and also the overall vibe of your music.
Max: I grew up in a really small country town in Coonamble in western New South Wales and when I was there, there were around 1500 people in the town and the surrounding area. One of the most exciting things was when an artist would come to town and do a show and people would count down the days to going to a concert. When I was 12 we moved, and that was a massive shock for me. In that journey, I really went into my music a lot. I picked up the guitar cause all my favourite artists played guitar, so I had to play guitar. So that led to a bit of a journey, I went to L.A, wrote heaps of pop songs… I was writing a lot for other people so I went into my songwriting a lot. And then I met my publisher and I started to deliver her songs. It got to the point where she said, “you have all of these songs that I cannot place with anybody else because they’re literally about your life. So I feel like there’s an album in that”, and from there it just felt really right.
T: What made you realise you wanted to do music as a career?
Max: I don’t remember a moment. But I just have never ever had anything else that I wanted to do. Like I wasn’t like ‘oh I really want to be a singer but if that fails I’ll…’. Everyone said to me, ‘do you want to be a hairdresser?’, because my mum is. But I just never ever, ever had anything else.
T: You did start out at a young age when you were still in school. How did you manage to juggle the lifestyle of being in school and starting your career?
Max: Yeah, it’s obviously tricky. And I am a perfectionist so I like to really try my best at everything. I’m also quite well known for spreading myself way too thin; so doing too many things at once. But I think music was always my priority and I was at school because I really wanted to finish school. I was doing the School Spectacular each year, I was doing Star Struck which is the Newcastle version of that, and I was also in the Talent Development Project for the last three years of school. So I was at school really just so that I could do all of these extra opportunities.
T: What are some of the challenges that you face in the music industry?
Max: A lot. I think a massive challenge about the music industry is it can be really lonely. I think it’s like the kind of thing where you’re constantly surrounded by people and you’re constantly in contact with people. But a lot of the things that you do are by yourself. A lot of my time is spent at home working on my laptop, but I have to spend that time to do things like release music; getting through that, it can be quite isolating. Also, I think the biggest thing that I’ve learnt is to find your team, find people that you trust, and cherish them, and really look after them.
T: What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your footsteps as a musician?
I would just say be really patient, find people to surround yourself with that really inspire you but really support you and are really honest with you. Take your time. Find your people and really look after them. And be disciplined.
T: Great advice. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Max: Oh gosh I don’t know. I’ve got another song coming out soon and then the album next year. And just on tour with Gina [Jeffreys]. Yeah I think they’re the main things that I’ve got going on. So exciting. That’s it really.
T: So exciting! Thank you so much for sitting down with me today.
Max: No, thank you!
Have a read of the full conversation piece over at Vocal Media here!