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Los Angeles is like the Disney Land of caricatured temptation. Whether you are seducing or being seduced, usually the next step is finding an unscathed retreat. But what happens when you push through to the other side and find yourself in a flourishing creative partnership with… ‘the enemy’.

“I slept with the enemy and ended up in love.”

Thunder Jackson says of his relationship to LA in his aptly initialed single “Led Astray”. The video is an indigo dream drifting between misty isolation and bombastic party scenes, throughout which the towering Oklahoma native dances with the kind of fervor expelled at an exorcism. Jackson’s full-bodied vocal crawls up the misty walls of the dance pop tune. It glitters and glimmers up there as it waits to seduce the next vulnerable soul… most likely another LA transplant.

 “I don’t think there’s anything to celebrate with feeling tortured but sometimes it feels damn good to throw on some cherry red lipstick and give it a big ol’ kiss.”

We caught up with Thunder Jackson to hear his thoughts on small towns, fateful taxi rides and becoming the biggest baddest version of himself…

“Led Astray” speaks to those moments in life when you follow a destructive path against your own better judgement. It’s hard not to imagine this path began in the ever-seductive city of Los Angeles. Is there any truth to that?

Certainly. Los Angeles is as seductive as it gets, and I was a pawn in its game… But the beautiful thing with destruction is it prompts the idea of rebuilding, and in my case I had an opportunity to rebuild internally.  The path of destruction I went down eventually led me to a better place – I grew as a human and as an artist. I slept with the enemy and ended up in love.

When you write a song like this you are addressing the issue, in so pulling it from the deeper regions of the subconscious that could be enabling continued behavior. Do you find this helps you change direction? Or does it feel like more of a celebration of those vices in the sense of the romanticized tortured artist?

It’s a fickle thing isn’t it? Your best art sometimes comes from pain. I don’t think there’s anything to celebrate with feeling tortured but sometimes it feels damn good to throw on some cherry red lipstick and give it a big ol’ kiss.

The video for “Led Astray” is an indigo dream drifting between misty isolation and a bombastic party scene. It appears through your dancing you are exorcizing those demons of lesser judgement out of you. Was this a cathartic process? Did you notice a change in yourself after?

I love expressing myself through dancing. I used to take swing dance classes with my grandmother growing up and remember this beautiful feeling of freedom – the freedom of expression. So it was only fitting with a song like Led Astray – a song so personal that I dance away my psychological state.

As your collaborator said, “I don’t know many 6ft3 200lb Oklahomans that love to wear glitter and dance in golden shoes, whilst circling a floating neon cube.” Did you find it hard to be full-fledged self back home? How did the dynamic of your hometown lead to you wanting to move to LA?

I think most kids born in a small country town that wants to play dress up and wear glitter find it hard at times to fully embrace themselves, but I feel a change is on the rise. There was without a doubt a mold I felt I had to incase myself in, to fit in with the rest of my surrounding world. I eventually started to see the silver lining of being authentic; of being the truest form of myself and that led me to my journey to LA. From then on I became more and more myself and the mold I thought I had to fit into started to shape-shift into what is now just authentically me. And that’s exactly what Thunder Jackson stands for.

The story of you finding your impresario while humming along to a Jeff Buckley song in a taxi cab is fascinating. Can you elaborate on that? Was it your first time meeting Peter Lawrie Winfield?

Picture this…The sunset strip, two lads, one from Oklahoma, one from Whales, looking for a night of debauchery with their young adolescent state of mind. By mere fate, they meet for the first time in a cab with a mutual friend of theirs. They sing, they laugh, they cry, they drink, the hug, they drink some more. By the morning it was inevitable – Thunder Jackson was on the horizon. The rest is history.

How has the writing process taken shape with the two of you? 

What happens in the studio with Peter and I, stays in the studio. All I can say is…that man has a way with his words.

Can you tell us what led you to working with the artist platform Vero? Why should other artists take interest?

Any social platform that promotes an artist’s voice authentically I’m a fan of. Vero does exactly that. They care so deeply about substance and the vision of the artist. And frankly, there is no other platform in the world that is fully enabling that the way they do. With a world so flooded with content it’s refreshing to have a place dedicated to real interactions that serve to promote artists and their art.

In the last few months, many have found it hard to create and/or release art, not knowing what is appropriate. How do you navigate this? What has kept you feeling inspired?

I have found it hard to navigate and have definitely had days when I felt completely overwhelmed with the state of this country and the world. But at the end of those days, I try to remind myself that it’s an important time to be creating. In a time where humans need something to relate to or feel something or feel like they’re not alone, it’s the job of art and the artists who create it to deliver a meaningful message to the world and I‘m trying my absolute best to do just that.



photos / Graham Sicalowski

story / Chris Hess

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