“I know it sounds very diva-ish but I’ve just been speaking to the director of my music video.” Self-proclaimed ‘Soccer-Mum turned Rocker-Mum’ Stacey Jackson is having a hectic day. In the build up to the recording of the promotional video for her forthcoming single “I Hear A Symphony” lifted from her album Upside Down, Jackson has already had a costume fitting and a somewhat challenging meeting with her video’s director when zap! bang! get a moment to chat to the London based Canadian. “I wanted to find a way that I could include my own kids somehow in the video. And he’s all professional and not a big fan of having kids on board, I was like, “You know what, I want my kids involved somehow, so let’s just figure this out.” I have four children, so two of them are completely written into the script and that’s easy. The other two I am trying to find a way that I can even just have them in the video for a split second. I can’t have two kids and not the other two kids in the video because that’s not fair. We’re busy arguing about that.”
It is clear within the first minute that Jackson will win her battle. Having spent the first half of her professional career working in PR and television, Jackson has a way with words. Having teamed up with the charity Music For Youth, Jackson knows that she needs to balance being a Mum with her own career goals. It appears including her children is an integral factor. “I really couldn’t be a terrific and fabulous Mum if I wasn’t a happy lady. I really know that if I couldn’t sing again, I would really be miserable. It’s kind of like anything if someone said to me I wasn’t allowed to have chocolate cake for the rest of my life, I would be miserable. For me it is about balancing, so I went back to singing and my kids are at school. Though I did mess it all up by getting pregnant in the middle of recording the album. That was a little bit of a surprise. But you know, I was very lucky, I had a girl after three boys, so it can’t be that bad. At the end of the day, it wasn’t just something I decided I was going to be, a recording artist. I’d always had the singing, it was just about finding the right time, after finding a husband, having a few kids and moving a couple of times.”
A family woman at heart, Jackson has in fact been performing for over 25 years, but various obstacles have always prevented her from fully achieving her musical dreams. “I was performing in Montreal and New York. Having lungs is a great think because you can travel with them, you can hang them up for a while then go back to them. The one thing I did do was put my musical career on hold for a bit when I was having my family, then I moved from New York to London, so settling them in you really have to focus on being a Mummy. Really be at home and be that family Mum.” But now with her family settled and at school, Jackson has decided to take some time for her. Given that PR is all about contacts, which she didn’t have in the UK, Jackson decided to follow her dream, with Music For Youth proving a much needed catalyst. “I wanted to find a charity that did exactly what I would have wanted when I was a kid. When I was 14, I was jamming in my parent’s garage. I mean I was playing in a whole load of clubs, but we’d have to go out and get our own gigs. I couldn’t even drink in some of these places. I was underage obviously, so they’d have to get special permission. It was a big deal trying to find a venue for us to perform in. What Music For Youth do so well is all the festivals across the UK for kids of all musical talent. They could be amazing or not so great, but you could end up playing at a Carling Academy or the Royal Albert Hall. They provide the platform for these kids to play in front of their peers and their family. All you have to do is sign up. I totally wish I had that when I was a kid.”
I think if you are really good at something, you should never give up on a dream.
With a firm belief that performance “will help build their confidence for later in life”, Jackson is passionate about her cause. “When I was a kid, about fourteen, I did a jingle for a dry cleaners commercial. I had to go into the studio and sing and it was brilliant. So for these kids, they came in from all over the UK it was an amazing opportunity. I think watching them as Mum, it filled me with pride. I enjoyed watching them doing their thing as much I enjoyed doing my part in the studio.” Music For Youth has been providing young musicians with a public platform for nearly half a century, yet it’s work is not widely known. Jackson, who was clearly a PR queen, steers all conversation away for herself, focusing purely on promoting her cause. “My goal is to get some celebrity musicians to work with these kids in workshops. We’d like to also put out Music For Youth singles and albums, in order to increase revenue for the charity.”
However, she does concede that recording the album was dream come true for her. “I think if you are really good at something, you should never give up on a dream. If you really believe in yourself then don’t give up. You’ll end up on old and grey saying ‘what if?’. I have a really inspirational story, my aunt, she is 80 years old. She is one of my mentors. When she was around my age, she had three boys, she decided to follow her passion for sculpting. Fast forward, you now can’t walk into one of the buildings without bumping into one of her massive sculptures. She’s one of the biggest sculptresses in Canada right now.”
Taking a leaf out of her aunt’s book, Jackson has finally been able to record an album of covers. “it was really nice to put a melange of them together, use them and see how it could come out. It was just the most fascinating experience of my life.” Far from taking the predictable route, Jackson has stopped and thought through each track on her collection, rearranging to give each her own flavour.
“I was a huge of Motown back in the days, when I was about the age of my daughter with my Dad. I’d be sitting in his 1960-something Mustang convertible and he’d put in a cassette of Diana Ross and The Supremes. I knew every word to every song and I wasn’t even two years old then! I just absolutely had that Motown thing in me. I just loved every Motown track that was put out. Then growing up, as a teenager and when I went into the music business, my influences were always hard rock. I loved Motley Crue. Then I was into grunge, then post-grunge. I loved all of Guns ‘n Roses, The Pearl Jam, Creed and Linkin Park. That’s what excited me about this album. I was like, I can’t deny that I really have the love and fascination for Motown, so how can I use the influences of the music I love today, which of course includes the music that my kids are listening to too.”
“I Hear A Symphony” is probably my favourite track because it is by Diana Ross and The Supremes. That brought back a lot of memories for me of my Dad, who is no longer with me. He actually died whilst I was in the middle of recording the album. I also have a lot of Music For Youth children on the album and they have a set of strings playing on that track. The other is “Band Of Gold”, which is the old Freda Paune song. It doesn’t sound anything like it now. The reason being that I also have some kids on that track, but it has my most grungey influence. I think I really pulled from that Pearl Jam era onto that track.”
With the music press firmly supporting her campaign, it appears that Jackson is well on her way to achieving her personal goals as well as her charitable aims. She has been dumbfounded by the response not just in the UK but globally. “In Greece, my dance remix is selling off the shelf. I’m a rocker, but “Band Of Gold” has been remixed to a whole variation of dance tracks. That track in Greece is selling amazingly well. It’s crazy.” However, Jackson hasn’t finished just yet. “I want to continue putting out subsequent albums for Music For Youth. But I do also write songs, I will ultimately want to put out an album of original tracks.”
Stacey Jackson’s Upside Down is currently available digitally. For more details visit her Official Site.