“Breaking Point“, the debut album from Jackson + Sellers ( the new and very exciting collaboration between Jade Jackson and Aubrie Sellers ) was released on 22nd October via ANTI-Records and it was great to have the opportunity to chat to the two artists about this project which is already getting some fantastic feedback ( stream/download the album here https://jacksonsellers.ffm.to/breakingpoint )
A bit of background first though. Jade and Aubrie are both established recording artists in their own right, each having released two solo albums, and their creative partnership was formed during the pandemic when Jade asked Aubrie to add backing vocals to one of her new songs,”Hush“, which was inspired by a toxic relationship her sister found herself in. This quickly blossomed into a full duo project which was recorded at The Cabin studio in East Nashville, an album which Aubrie describes as one which ” pays homage to unique, independent women who created their own path, wrote their own songs, had their own sounds”.
The album reflects their expansive musical interests, with Jade and Aubrie each contributing three tracks and co-writing one with Ethan Ballinger, who alongside Aubrie produced the album. In addition they selected deep-cut covers, Suzi Quatro’s defiant “The Wild One”, Shannon Wright’s raucous “Has Been” and their first single, a reimagination of Julie Miller’s “The Devil Is An Angel”.
The interview took place the day after Jackson + Sellers had performed at The Ryman Auditorium, where they had opened for Kevin Costner ( yep, THE Kevin Costner!) and his band Modern West, and two days after they live-streamed the album from the studio where it was recorded. There was so much laugher and frivolity throughout our really fun chat, hopefully I have transcribed it pretty accurately!!
1. LH Hello to you both and thanks so much for your time today! Can I assume you’re in Nashville, having performed at the iconic Mother Church last night?
AUBRIE Yes we are in my house and Jade just moved to Nashville too!
LH Oooh how exciting , were you in California before?
JADE I was, yeah! I love it here , I miss the ocean but other than that….!!
2. LH Congratulations on your album, which I had blasting out on a road trip last weekend. So let’s start with a recap of what kicked off the entire project….Jade, I gather you were looking for someone to sing harmonies on your song ” Hush” and asked Aubrie if she’d be interested. What was it that made Aubrie your “go to” ?
JADE Yes! Well she and I had played the same showcase a few months before at AmericanaFest and she left an impression. So when I did lean towards the decision of having heavy female harmonies on that song she was the first singer who came to my mind so I messaged her pretty immediately and she messaged me back, which is what started everything!
3. LH So, how was it when you first actually got together , and when did you both know that collaboration wasn’t going to be a one off?
AUBRIE Yeah, Jade came down to write with me, we ended up playing each other songs and we’d already worked on “Hush” and that night we recorded a couple of demos. We hit it off not only musically but personally too. Even on those demos, when we first heard our voices together, we were like ” Oh this is great” and we sent them over to our managers to see if maybe we could do a song or two together and they were loving it too, so we set about making a record. So just three months after we first met we had the record!
LH Wow, that’s amazing speed!!
4 . LH Generally I think successful partnerships of ANY kind rely on both similarities AND differences …..what would you say are the similarities and difference that make yours work so well?
AUBRIE We had a ton of similarities we found! Strange, random ones like we both have the lucky number 22, we both started playing guitar at the same age and wanted the same type because of Emmylou Harris, listened to the same music growing up, we both liked rock and had that rock edge which I don’t think is as common, we were born a couple of days apart ( both Aquarius) . As far as differences, I don’t know….our backgrounds are different..
JADE Yeah I grew up in an Italian restaurant that my Dad had, then when I was about 13 he opened up a French style restaurant in the small town he moved the family to and the whole family worked there. I was simultaneously playing music and dreaming of it, whereas Aubrie grew up around the things I could only conjure up in my brain. Also we’ve discovered she leans more towards the sonic side of the songs…the textures, layers, instruments ..whereas I’ve always leaned in the direction of lyrics and the craftsmanship of the songwriting side. We work so well together because we balance each other out.
(LH Side note for those who aren’t aware, Aubrey’s parents are LeeAnn Womack and Jason Sellers)
5.LH “Hush” is an amazing song, did its subject matter inspire for the theme for this collection of songs or was it only after you’d got the tracks together that you realised they had a common thread?
JADE Like Aubrie said, it all happened so quick, originally we just wanted to get funding to put out a song or two, then they came back with ” can you guys do a 10 song record?” . So we didn’t have the time or luxury to piece things together , everything unfolded in an organic way and it was when we were reflecting back on the record we realised hey, there’s a theme.
AUBRIE What we did was play our songs to each other and picked which ones we liked, I think we just naturally gravitated towards similar subjects..which was also what we were writing about… and then the production I think is what tied it all together.
LH I was actually going to ask if you pitched songs to each other to decide which to record, or just went with each other’s judgement.
AUBRIE Yes, Jade sent over a ton of songs! Then I sent her over a bunch of mine! We wanted to make sure whatever we did, we both really loved .
6. LH So they were from your back catalogue, not written especially for the project ?
AUBRIE Yes, and the only song we wrote together was “Wound Up”( With Ethan, who also played guitar on the record and co-produced) . I had started that song but didn’t love the lyrics so I asked Jade if she’d be interested in sitting down and working on it , the lyrics came really quickly and I was like ” we need to sit down and write some more!”.
JADE Everything about this project and us working together has been so smooth and easy in a way. It was such a good, fun experience! It’s not often like that, experiences I’ve had in the past with collaborating led me to believe that’s just not something I do! People ask us “what challenges did you face?” and really there were none! But we’ve both faced challenges in our solo careers so we deeply appreciate this!
7. LH And your solo writes, did they all have their roots in situations either you, or someone close to you, experienced, like “Hush” did?
AUBRIE For me, I write nearly always from true experiences
JADE It’s always different,”Hush” and “As You Run” were both written for my sister, and “Waste Your Time” was written from a break up i was going through, but on my last couple of records it was more imaginative writing.
AUBRIE Um, interesting!!
LH I love “Waste Your Time”, I think it’s one of my favourites… sorry Aubrie!
AUBRIE Ha It’s one of mine too!!
LH Oh that’s ok then, we can both fan-girl over that one!!
8. LH And when it came to the covers… how were they decided, and how important was it for you to reinterpret them, not simply try to reproduce them?
AUBRIE The Julie Miller song is just one I’ve loved ever since I was a teenager, she’s one of my favourite artists, and I sent it to Jade in California. Ethan played that little guitar riff that’s at the beginning and I really loved the more rock vibe, and Jade loved it . “Has Been” we’d played that first night together, and “Wild One” I had seen in a documentary about Suzie Quatro, I wasn’t that familiar with her and thought it was super cool! I know she’s bigger in the UK. I’ve always been that way with covers, if i don’t feel I have a vision for it to do it in a way that’s unique to me or us as an interpretation then I don’t see the point. Especially with songs I love so much originally, I’m like ” why would i touch this thing!”. There’s Julie Miller song’s I wouldn’t cover as they are just like I’d do them. So that’s my philosophy, and Jade doesn’t do many covers ….
JADE Yeah, I always thought I write so many songs, and putting out a record of 10-12 songs every couple of years I already had to sift through 150 of my songs so why add more? And I want to get MY songs out there which sounds kind of selfish so I never did covers! But I had heard the covers Audrey has done on past projects and really liked her take on them so I just trusted her and Ethan and I’m super glad i did because those are probably some of my favourite songs to play!
AUDREY Ha, Jade has a sister called Audrey!
JADE yeah I’m always doing that…last night I called Aubrie “Audrey” on stage!! And Aubrie and I are so much like sisters it’s funny. And my Dad told me last night when I told him I messed up her name that they were 50% leaning towards naming my sister Aubrie!
LH All these coincidences are so weird!!
I must single out the Suzy Q cover as I grew up listening to her as a teenager in the ’70’s…. I hardly recognised the slowed down version but it really made me focus on the lyrics which I can’t remember doing before!
9 LH . Can you tell me a bit about the recording process and the other musicians on the album?
AUBRIE Yeah so we used Ethan on guitar like I mentioned, he’s played with me for a while, and Maddie from the studio on drums …we were the first people record there which was super exciting….plus their friend who’s an amazing bass player, and the engineer. That was all! It was a really fun creative process, I just told Jade to let loose, we just had a general idea of the sonic landscape before we got there but didn’t over-plan anything.
JADE Yeah. we just let the songs take us to where we needed to go and it was such a fun experience. Then we came back and mixed it . Was took our time and were creative, and it came together really easily!
10. LH . Aubrey, you co-produced the album too… I love how more female artists are getting involved in that side of things, is it something you are enjoying?
AUBRIE Yes! I love it, it’s probably my favourite part, being in the studio. Even song wise I’m more drawn to melody and so production is a huge part of the song to me. I rarely send someone a work tape with just me playing on it, because a song isn’t a song until I’ve produced it.
11. LH And I see the album’s available on vinyl which is making a real comeback lately. Is that your preferred format for listening to music yourselves?
AUBRIE Out of choice that would be my preferred method, but like everyone else I don’t do it as often because streaming is so convenient! But for this record, when we went to listen to the test pressing, this particular record was made for vinyl, it has so much of that 60s and 70s influence …..the vinyl will be out in December so we’re very excited!
JADE Yes, so excited!
12. LH You’ve played several shows together recently… including sets at Americanafest, a full band album lifestream and last night as we’ve already mentioned you graced the stage at the Ryman… all quite different, I imagine. Do you have favourite songs to perform acoustically / rocking out with the band?
AUBRIE We’ve only done little radio things acoustic, everything else has been with a full band! We prefer that because that’s the vibe of the record, even songs like ” Hush” are fun to do that way.
LH Well sorry I made assumptions!
13. LH And what does the future look like for you as a duo? You’ve already mentioned wanting to write together more, so is this just the beginning of your partnership?
AUBRIE It looks so, right, Jade?
JADE Yeah both live close together in Nashville now so I think we’ll definitely collaborate . The way this project came together was so seamless and not forced, I think that whatever we do in the future will be in the same vein, we’ll keep it authentic to where we’re at as people, how we’re feeling that day, and i think there could be a ton more cool, magical stuff .
14. LH And what about live shows? Will there be a full tour soon?
AUBRIE Not right now, there’ll probably be something around the vinyl release… we had a tour planned for October that got cancelled, things are still a little weird!
LH And at some point do you think you’ll make your way over to see us in the UK?
AUBRIE I hope so! It’s my favourite place!
JADE Yes we both love it and I haven’t been there in a while so I can’t wait to get back when the dust settles!
LH Great!! You are always welcome of course . Thanks so much for your time today, really hope to see you soon!