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Hiya Jackson Reed and the Silverbirds, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

My interest in music began when I was 11 and discovered The Beatles, but I don’t think I saw myself pursuing music until I was 15 and discovered Led Zeppelin. That’s when I began to really pick up the guitar and thought I could do this.

Introduce us to you all and your musical history.

My name’s Jackson. I’m 26, and I’m from Calgary, Alberta (Go Flames Go). I’ve already explained my early musical inspirations, but the current path I’m on began when I was 18/19. I never wanted to be a singer. I just wanted to be the next Jimmy Page. But putting a band together was so hard that I decided to be a solo artist. It was around this time when I discovered Bruce Springsteen.

Seeing how Bruce sings and how great of a performer he is made me realize that I could do something similar. I officially put together Jackson Reed and The Silverbirds in 2021 to do just that. That year we released an EP called “On Air,” and we put out the single “Dangerous Lover,” which was a collaboration with the great drummer Kenny Aronoff. In 2023, we put out “In My Head,” which marked a shift towards a pop sound while still having that classic rock attitude.

The track charted on iTunes, and received radio play all across North America in major markets like LA, Toronto, and Detroit. And now we’re putting out “Little Red Corvette,” which so far has already had equally stellar radio play. I’m also the host of the podcast “Guess That Record,” where I’ve interviewed huge names like Andy Summers, Dweezil Zappa, David Paich, and Jim Vallance.

What’s the live music scene like in (ADD YOUR TOWN/CITY) right now? Anyone we should be looking out for (Bar you of course)

Calgary has a decent scene. Because of the fact that we’re the biggest city in the area, there’s naturally going to be a good amount of artists and places to play. We’ve also got the National Music Centre based here. But besides that, I think it’s all at a much smaller scale than bigger cities elsewhere. A huge reason why I’ve worked on getting opportunities outside of Calgary is because I know I won’t make it by only staying in Calgary. 

I’ve seen a lot of people struggling for support recently online. What’s your view on the industry?

It’s definitely hard to get people’s attention in this day and age with so much music out there. I wish that social media didn’t have to play a huge role in getting discovered as an artist. Many labels, especially the majors, won’t take you on unless you have x number of followers, and at that point you’re more focused on being a social media influencer and not an artist. I hope that way of thinking eventually goes away and it gets focused more on making great music first, because if your music is great labels can do the rest.

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

I think we’re close to being able to take this to the next level. Through both my music and the podcast, we’ve been able to collaborate and interact with a lot of big names. Many artists who are at the same point in their careers probably haven’t or won’t do the things we’ve done. So I think we’re on the right track, we just have to stay tenacious and keep putting ourselves in the right places.

What was your best experience on stage?

Earlier this year, we played a sold-out headlining show at a club called The King Eddy, which is one of Calgary’s most prestigious and historic music venues. The King Eddy has been around for over 100 years, and it’s currently where The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio is located as the building is now connected to the National Music Centre. It was so awesome to play a show there. The place was jam-packed, and we were firing on all cylinders. It felt like our first big-time show.

What was your worst experience on stage?

Two years ago we played at a small festival in Calgary. It was a great crowd, but unfortunately, the sound crew took 20 minutes to get our gear hooked up to the PA. Then, once we were able to start performing our mics and amps would start cutting out for no reason. It’s a show we all joke about to this day because it’s quite funny to look back on it to see how the sound crew was so out of their element, but it also highlights why having great sound people is so important to make sure a show runs smoothly.

Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.

We got to hang out with Billy Joel’s band after a show. Billy was recently in Seattle to play a concert there, and I went down with my drummer Nathan Litvinchuk to see the show. While we were in Seattle, we also recorded an episode of the podcast with Billy’s drummer Chuck Burgi. It was my second interview with Chuck, and my first time meeting him in-person.

After the interview (which was the day before the show), Chuck invited us to attend the band’s after show party the next night. So after the concert we were hanging out with Chuck and the rest of Billy’s band right after they played for 40,000 people. It felt very surreal to be a guy from Calgary talking with all these world class musicians, and I’ll always have to thank Chuck for making that happen. He’s legitimately one of the nicest people I’ve had the chance to meet in the music business.

I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.

We just put out a new single, a cover of “Little Red Corvette” by Prince. I’m a huge fan of Prince, and when deciding what to do next, I felt like a cover would be fun to attempt (we’ve never done a cover in the studio). Little Red Corvette felt like the perfect song to do because it ties into our nostalgic sound, yet I feel like it’s a song that could have come out today and fit in with everything else on the radio. It’s still so fresh all these years later, and that’s why it was great to put out as a single. The fact that it’s already been on the radio across Alberta and as far away as LA and Detroit is proof that this song still has a lot of intrigue. One of my previous podcast guests is Susan Rogers, who was Prince’s engineer from 1983-1987. She worked on some of his biggest records like Purple Rain and Sign O The Times. I sent her our version of Little Red Corvette, and she loved it. It was great to get that kind of response from someone who used to be in Prince’s inner circle. 

What was the recording process like?

The biggest difference between our version and the original is the fact that we went for more of a live sound. We played all of our instruments, whereas the original version relies more on programmed parts. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but I felt it was important for us to approach the song differently in that perspective. It was great to have the full band playing everything to really make it a Jackson Reed and The Silverbirds performance, while still paying tribute to this amazing song. Another cool thing we did was we recorded a full length, 6 minute version of the song. From there we were able to split the track into an A and B side, making it a true single. The extended version is a nice little bonus for anyone who enjoyed the shorter version and wants more.

What was it like to make the music video?

I think this is our best video yet. It’s incredibly cinematic. It was directed by Oliver Clarke, who’s a local filmmaker here in Calgary that specializes in music videos. I reached out to the Calgary Corvette Club to see if they had any members with a red Corvette who would be interested in having their car in the video. I then heard from Glenn Monk, who agreed to let us use his 1973 Corvette. We shot the video in one evening earlier this spring, and it was so awesome to get to drive around in a beautiful vintage Corvette.

I also had one of my acting friends Safia Elder provide some voice over that you hear at the start of the video (she also sang backing vocals on the track). While we had the car during the video shoot, we also made sure to take the cover photo. Once again reaching into my podcast connections, I brought onboard the great British photographer Gered Mankowitz to help edit the cover shot. Gered has worked with artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and George Harrison, so it was beyond cool to have him play a small role for this single.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Be sure to listen to the new single and all of our past work on your favorite streaming service, watch the music video on YouTube, and check out the podcast!

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The post RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW JACKSON REED AND THE SILVERBIRDS first appeared on RGM : REYT GOOD MAGAZINE.

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