Have you heard of Jackson Harris? If for whatever crazy reason you haven’t listened to any of his hit sensations (that have gone viral, FYI), then you definitely want to check out this singer/songwriter on the rise. He’s an undeniably cute artist whose refreshing outlook on life, New Yorker charm, and knack for creating infectious pop beats and lyrical hooks has entranced music fans worldwide. Plus, as though we couldn’t possibly like him any more than we already do, he just debuted a breathtaking music video for his new single “Come Back Down To Earth” which stars Pretty Little Liars actress Lucy Hale. (Way to win over our hearts, Jackson!)
Best of all? We recently caught up with Jackson and got the exclusive scoop on his new album, the relationship that inspired one of his forthcoming breakup songs, and the first moment he ever lay eyes on pretty little Lucy. Watch his new music video here and tune in below for the exciting interview!
PLL: Congrats on your new album! What have the past few months been like for you?
Jackson: They’ve definitely been really fun. It’s been really interesting seeing what kind of responses we’ve been getting and seeing the amazing feedback that I’ve been getting. A lot of it is due at least initially to having the gorgeous, talented, and beautiful Lucy Hale in the music video and it’s just been really nice to integrate with the Pretty Little Liars fans. They’re really loyal and it’s just great to be embraced by them.
PLL: You recently debuted the video for “Come Back Down To Earth.” Why did you choose Lucy Hale for the video?
Jackson: As far as choosing her, it’s actually a funny story. When I was younger, I always wanted to be on American Idol but I was never old enough to get on. And I remember one summer watching this show called American Juniors and seeing this one girl who had braces at the time who was taller than everyone else and her name was Lucy. And she had eventually made it onto the show and I turned to my mom and said “She’s cute, she’s reaaaally cute. I could see something happening with that.” I know she made the band there and then a few years went by and I always said to myself, she’s way too talented and beautiful not to succeed. However, when I saw one of these New York city buses go by with a photo of her covered with dirt and striking a “shushing the finger” pose, I was like “there she goes, good for her, that’s awesome.” So I figured before she becomes a huge megastar, hopefully she’ll come and want to be in the video. And she did. She really elevated it to a whole another level and made it so much more cinematic.
PLL: What was it like working with Lucy?
Jackson: Lucy was amazing to work with. I was actually probably more nervous than she was because we had shot the first day just most of my scenes and the second day was most of her and my scenes, and ya know I had never met her before and she just ended up being sweeter than I could’ve imagined and so, no pun intended, down to earth, and fun, and just really loved the project and wanted to make it great. She wasn’t any sort of diva—she was awesome.
PLL: Do you watch Pretty Little Liars by any chance?
Jackson: I just began! I ordered all the episodes on iTunes because I felt like I needed to educate myself so I’m like first episode in, I watched it on the plane. And right now it’s hard to for me to not concentrate on the fact that [Aria is] Lucy [and that] I know her! So I gotta get back into the story. However, I don’t know who A is yet! I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy the first season a lot from what I hear.
PLL: Which of your songs do you think would be a great fit for the show??
Jackson: Definitely! Well I think “Come Back Down to Earth” has an interesting tune to it and could be played in various scenes. But there’s this song that I have that I’ve worked on called “Gone In A Heartbeat” that’s a bit of intense that I think that would fit in with the dramatic vibe of the show. I’ve actually started watching the show more because of working with Lucy and getting into it and now I find myself thinking “Oh well maybe I could write this song, and put it in here.” Who knows. But I would love to. I know ZZ Ward has done some work for the promotion for this upcoming season and [that was] awesome.
PLL: You were dubbed the next pop sensation by NBC’s Weekend Today in NY. What are your thoughts on that awesome title?
Jackson: [laughs] It’s very flattering. I mean, anytime anyone compares you to a Justin Bieber or anything like that, I don’t really see it is as musical comparison but more of a success-based one. I love Justin — I haven’t met him yet, but I appreciate his work ethic. As far as being the next pop sensation, it’s a possibility that I would hope to achieve. Honestly though, all I want do do is just continue to make music that people enjoy.
PLL: Our show PLL is all about secrets and lies. Can you tell us one secret about your new video and/or album that no one else knows?
Jackson: What’s juicy about the album is the cover art. I actually found it by just by googling. I had this idea based on the title “Sharks and Vampires” and I ended up finding this artist from England (who also designed the cover of “Come Back Down To Earth”) and it involves a certain, lets just say, Twilight-esque backdrop — but that’s the most of the secret I can give. As far as the video goes, the secret there is to watch out for the necklace that Lucy’s wearing. I made a point to make sure that once we premiered the video in the next week or two that we’re going to be giving that necklace away. So all the Pretty Little Liars fans will have the chance to wear the necklace that she wore in the music video.
PLL: Can you tell us more about the songs on your upcoming album – how did you decided what to include?
Jackson: Yeah I mean the one thing I wanted to do with the record is make sure that I wasn’t just putting out tracks and had two really good songs on there. I know from growing up and seeing the Napster revolution how easy it is to steal music and I want make sure that whatever I put out is worth the money that anyone’s paying for it. And the upcoming album is titled “Sharks And Vampires.”I love the title because it encompasses everything pop culture is right now but it’s also got this double meaning for the industry and what that can do [to an artist]. Some of the songs on there include “Someone Tell Brittany,” “Love Letter” and “Gone in A Heartbeat” and it really just runs the gamut of different emotions and experiences.
“Someone Tell Brittany” is actually about my first real ex-girlfriend. She exists. Her last name will go unmentioned because I don’t want her to get too upset. But she lives in New York but she wouldn’t answer my calls or texts so I figured “well if you’re not going to hear me out, I’ll make sure the whole world does.” There’s another tune called “Growing Up” about reconnecting with that girl that you had that crush on when you were 14 or 15 and now you’re a bit older and want to refine those feelings. And I was so inspired by the shoot with Lucy that I wrote this song titled “Down with the Ship” that plays on a nautical theme. I really just try to tell stories in these songs so each one can sound like a mini movie in your head.
PLL: What’s your favorite lyrical moment from your new album?
Jackson: One of my favorite, favorite lyrics is probably from my single “Go Crazy.” And it goes like this: “Forget the real world, I need reality. This is bigger than whatever’s on MTV.” So that to me was a big sign of even though I’m a musician, it’s not about the Jersey Shore or reality television shows. It’s really about the music and [how] even MTV doesn’t play music videos these days. Sure, I mean, they might be playing on mornings when you wake up really early but I definitely try to stick a little fortune cookie wisdom in every song so you can quote me afterwards, if you will.
PLL: You’ve covered a lot of different songs from Empire State of Mind to Last Christmas. Are you planning on covering any new tracks in the upcoming month?
Jackson: We’re just finished recording the cover of Taylor Swift and B.O.B’s “Both of Us”. I do Taylor’s part and then I rap B.O.B’s part. I think the interesting thing about doing covers is that it’s a way for me to stretch [to other genres] and prove some of the haters wrong. I always try to choose songs that are polarizing that will get people talking. So whether its me trying to cover Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind” as a little white kid from New York City or tackling Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” I like to try something that maybe I wouldn’t do on my record. Plus, at the end of the day, it’s fun. In a little way, it’s selfish because I love those artists and part of me wants to endear myself to them and their fans.
PLL: You vlog a lot which is great for your fans. What made you decide to start doing so?
Jackson: Youtube has been kind of a canvas for me to do anything I want to do artistically whether it be music, acting, parodies, or covers. As far as the vlogging goes, I as a fan of so many musicians would love to see them when they’re kind of not being musicians. I would like to get to know them, see their process, see how they make their records; the behind the scenes of every music video and movie I’ve ever seen has always been so much more interesting to me than the movie itself. I love documentaries so any chance I get to see behind the scenes of artists I love, it ends up making me understand their songs more. So with the vlog, it was “I wanna introduce you to my life and show you that I’m a real person.” You know, I write my songs on my couch — there are no glorious studios or [glamorous] lifestyle things that come with it. I wanted to show the fans that there’s no disconnect in who you are and what you do and who I am and what I do. It’s really about making music, enjoying it, and putting it out there to people who enjoy it.
PLL: We hear you had a very Gossip Girl-esque upbringing. What inspired you to break out of that prep school mode and focus on music?
Jackson: Well, growing up in that world and also being in high school when this show was on it was very weird. However, what I learned from the show and from growing up in that world is that there’s a lot of people who have everything who are actually incredibly unhappy. And one thing that I wanted to be was happy. And music did that for me. So it wasn’t about parties or being a business trader or heading off to an Ivy League. All I wanted to do was write music on my guitar and record and have people listen to it. So music kind of saved me from that world because some people get sucked into it and never leave. I also have a lot of friends back at home in New York City and they don’t adhere to the Gossip Girl stereotypes either. But those lifestyles definitely exist. And it was definitely nice to get away from all of it.
PLL: Who are your biggest music inspirations? You always tell a good story in your songs so what are some of your favorite books as well?
Jackson: John Mayer and Billy Joel for sure. I grew up on a lot of the classics – the Beatles and Eric Clapton — so that set the tone for the type of music I wanted to create so that in ten years, in 15 years, in 25 years people are still listening to it and loving it for the music. Story telling wise, I’m very impressed by Taylor Swift and – even though she’s incredibly talented – I don’t think she receives enough credit for her song writing skills because she’s liked by 16 year old girls. However, I’d like to achieve the same sort of connectivity and honesty in my songs with more of a pop-rock feel. So I name names. And that’s kind of what I do. If someone says something in a conversation and it catches my eyes or a phrase I’ll use it in a song. As far as books go, as cheesy as it sounds, I get a lot of inspiration from the old Shel Silverstein books and all those poems. They’re the quirkiest things. I just love The Giving Tree and all those classic children’s books really do show you a pattern for writing and poetry. And of course the Catcher in The Rye is my favorite book ever.
PLL: And in the spirit of our show, can you tell us two truths and a lie about yourself?
Jackson: My first instrument I ever started playing was the violin. I was born and raised in new York city. I have seven brothers and sisters.
Psst! In regards to the last question — tell us if you can distinguish Jackson’s lie from his truths? Play the game in the comments!
*Want to learn more about Jackson Harris and his amazing, catchy music? Head over to his official site and follow him on twitter @Jackson_Harris for daily updates and exclusives! And if you haven’t already, download his hit track “Come Back Down To Earth” on iTunes!*