“The Energy Has Shifted” jxdn Interviewed

The inter-connected artist is reaching a new level...

jxdn has lived a hell of a life – ever since the release of debut album ‘Tell Me About Tomorrow’, in fact. As he dials into our call, chilling comfortably in his kitchen, the American singer-songwriter is as happy as ever. He’s actually smiling ear to ear as he tells us his origin story and much more. “I remember looking at Shawn Mendes with Vine and thinking, that’s what I’m going to do,” he proclaims.

“Music was never a thought for me! I didn’t like listening to it, which is such a funny thing,” he laughs. “I was pretty conservative and sheltered in a sense. You know, I grew up in the church, my parents were pastors, and Justin Bieber was really the only artist I ever listened to. The thing that changed my mind was going to a Juice WRLD concert,” he admits. “I was 18 and there was thousands of kids singing the lyrics to ‘Empty’ and that was a divine moment for me”.

“I feel like my eyes and ears changed because I fully understood what music was at that point. It wasn’t about the song, it wasn’t about anything but the crowd and Juice (Jarad Anthony Higgins) simply existing with each other,” he continues to reminisce. “That’s the moment where I thought it was time to move to LA and make it happen for myself,” he states. “I wanted it for myself to the point I was homeless for six months but homeless in LA is a lot better than living normally anywhere else. I was in a good situation and the rest just happened really naturally which is crazy.”

“When I started, I got thrown in with the best of the best,” he exclaims. “Travis is such a savant, not just at drumming, but at executive producing. He’s really good at building out projects; with me, he let me lead but also made sure to guide me where necessary as I was so young,” he notes, appreciating all the Blink-182 drummer has done for him.

“This project is different,” he states confidently, referring to his latest record WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS. “It’s been four years, I’ve done over 250 shows now, I’ve gained my legs in a sense”.

“Going into this album, I didn’t want to make a hit,” he proclaims. “I think I chased that a lot over the past two years because there was a lot of insecurity in who I was as an artist and as a person. I remember calling Travis about it and he was like ‘perfect, let’s just make a good album’. I think maybe that’s why there’s a lot of freedom in the record,” he continues. “I wasn’t worried about what it needed to sound like or whether it was going to blow up”.

“If you listen, all the feelings across the record are very intertwined. The sound changes, but there’s a big consistency in the storyline which pulls it all together; I think not trying to make a hit is what made the album so good. I truly believe this is going to be the album that changes everything for me so it’s funny how it all works out.”

Having ditched his stage name in favour of his real name in 2023, Hossler’s spent the last few years navigating a tumultuous music industry whilst processing the realities of fame, heartbreak, and grief. Those losses ultimately prompted him to rethink his approach to creating music and in doing so, he’s created some of his most authentic work to date. “Honestly, it’s crazy to say I’m doing better than I’ve ever been,” he vulnerably admits whilst beaming about it. “I don’t think I could give credit to one specific thing but I do go to more shows now. I consume so much live music and make more of an effort to spend time with my friends, with people that have the same drive that I do, and ensure that I have that support at all times,” he continues. “Having people that support me in my crazy moments of inspiration, that won’t overlook it and see what I see, is so important. I think complacency and being comfortable is really good but if you’re trying to go forward, it’s important to make an effort to do the uncomfortable…”

“I think that’s why I’m content with where I’m at in my career, because I’ve got so many good people around me. I surround myself with people that make me feel like me and that was such a hard thing to do because it was a lesson I never really learned. I’ve always been in the streets, that’s just how I grew up, so when I had the opportunity to get out of that and come to LA, of course I said yes,” he tells us. “There was a point in my career where I got obsessed with the process of levelling up and that took me to a place where it nearly fucking killed me. It made me hate myself and everything around me which wasn’t something I was used to feeling,” he says unwaveringly, comfortable in the fact that he’s sharing his story with the world.

“First and foremost, I’d say love is the most important thing in my life. It’s something I really search for, something I try to give to other people, and I found myself in a place where I couldn’t do that anymore. That alone was the biggest shift for me. My new direction wasn’t even about the music. It just happened because I needed to make a change in my life,” he shares. “I changed my name back to jxdn because it’s a testament to my story. I think I’m exactly who I’m supposed to be because there’s no one else in the world willing to fall on their sword like I am. My life didn’t come with positive things attached to it and to get to where I am required a lot of hard work, a lot of hard decisions that didn’t really benefit me at the moment. Now, I feel like everything’s changed. The energy has shifted because I bear my cross every day knowing that I don’t deserve to be here which makes me fight for it even more.”

Struggling with his identity as thousands of eyes watch and critique his every move, it’s safe to say it’s been a difficult period for the 23-year-old. Growing up in the eyes of many didn’t come without its worries yet part of Hossler’s magic is finding solace in those hard times. “Something I’ve learned is everything that happens, absolutely wasn’t meant to at a certain point in time,” he begins. “When I say I feel like I don’t deserve to be where I am or have what I have, I mean I do deserve it but didn’t when it initially happened for me. I deserve it now,” and that’s a statement he can stand by.

As he reflects on how he got here, he’s comfortable in his viewpoint on starting out on TikTok. He knows what people are thinking. He’s nothing but self-aware when it comes to the stereotypes regarding the TikTok to musician pipeline; in all honesty, he doesn’t care. “I didn’t start TikTok for any other reason except the fact I saw an opportunity to promote something I love and it worked out for me,” he exclaims.

“I just got lucky,” jxdn shrugs. “Sometimes, that luck kind of feels like baggage and people don’t really think about that. Whenever you’re given something you don’t necessarily deserve or work for, there’s always going to be a sense of judgment from people. That’s why I’m so honest about my journey”.

“If I was able to do that and then hit the wall like I did, it’s a story people need to know. To almost lose everything and continue to go and not give up on my dreams, it’s not taken for granted by me,” he looks up, almost like he’s bearing his cross, thankful to still be here.

“As an artist, I’ve played in some big venues in a lot of places, places a lot of people may have never expected from me, but just know that they weren’t my personal biggest. They were amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I love being emerged in the underground scene,” he says with such admiration it’s almost refreshing. “A few nights ago, I was at a show with my best friends for new artists coming up and it’s all about the crowd. It was Noah Thomas, and Sace6 who I’m actually taking out on tour with me, and it wasn’t about social media. It wasn’t about anything other than the people in the room,” he exclaims, his passion for the scene evident in his expressive tone. “There was me, Beauty School Dropout, all these other artists that may have a good few streams, and we were in the pits because there was no ego! That’s the best part about the scene that’s developing in LA. We’re all just grateful to be part of it and no one thinks that they’re better than the other person. We’re all in it together and that type of stuff is what makes me feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.”

Reclaiming both his name and his pop-punk roots, jxdn’s second album is a tribute to where it all began for him. It’s a love letter to everyone who has made his journey possible, to those who have had his back through everything. It’s a record that showcases he’s ready to take over the world. “To be honest, I feel like I am supposed to have this rise, this resurgence of early 2000’s rock,” begins Hossler. “I had a conversation with Yungblud recently where we talked about our inspirations growing up and how, now, he’s at a very different point in his life because he’s grown up,” he continues. “He looked at me and called me a sun artist. I was so confused. He said he grew up in the clouds, and the rain, and that’s reflected in his music. His inspirations are people like The Cure and Joy Division. I grew up in the sun, one of my inspirations is The Strokes,” he elaborates. “Look at how the world reacted to them after 9/11, they needed them.”

“Yungblud said the world needs more sun artists, we need more music that allows you to dance, and that’s what The Strokes did. That’s my favourite part about them,” he beams. “Look at where we are in the world right now, it’s torture with everything that’s happening; I feel the responsibility to do what I’m doing because this next year is going to be the one that breaks me. The music that follows is so important because it’s me at my most authentic. It’s leaning to the sun because hopefully change is going to happen. Hopefully it’s going to happen for everyone.”

In putting everything into his music, jxdn has pulled off the healthiest type of therapy. He’s rebuilded himself from the ground up, allowing fans to get reacquainted with the person beneath the shiny veneer of fame, and came out stronger because of it. He’s even found love in things he used to hate such as touring. “I don’t think there’s a feeling in the world that equates to being on stage,” he proclaims. “For me, I feel everything I bottle up daily is released when I’m on stage, especially when the music is encouraging me to do so. It’s such an electric feeling,” he notes.

“I’ve also fallen in love with travelling recently because I’m seeing all these people who love my music in person and that made me realise numbers on a song don’t equate to building an artist or a fan base,” he adds. “That’s why I’m so excited about this tour. The songs are great, I’m going to be biased and say they’re amazing, but it’s all about getting out there and giving my fans what they want,” he says. “I was speaking to a bunch of them in London, asking them what they needed, and all they had to say was that they wanted to see me in person, that I was their light. That’s more than enough for me”.

“After my last tour, which was one that was really tough for me, I’m excited to go back out,” he states. “Last time, I didn’t want to do it. I was really struggling and frustrated. It was my third tour on the same album and I wasn’t happy. It’s nice, now that I’m in a better place, to have that relief and love the idea of being on tour.”

Narratively, WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS captures the rollercoaster moments in jxdn’s life; you can hear the theme of emotional connections throughout. Oscillating between pop-punk anthems (‘YOU NEEDED SOMEONE I JUST HAPPENED TO BE THERE’), vulnerable acoustic tracks (‘WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS’), indie floor fillers (‘SAD OCTOBER’), and nu metal-tinged bangers (‘STRAY’), the record transports people into his world, something he’s hoping to do within his shows. “The entire set design for the US leg is really cool. It’s all stripped back. My aim is to put people into a different world, one where when the show starts it doesn’t stop,” he continues. “I think it originally had a run of one hour and ten minutes but now it’s around an hour and a half or longer. It’s a full blown performance”.

“We’ve been really dialled in to the transitions this time, making everything rock and roll; in terms of the UK, I’m playing both of my albums,” he adds. “I never went over there after my first album so this time, I’m integrating my favourite songs from both records which will be nice,” he sighs. It’s a sigh of relief, one that’s for his international fans as he’s finally able to give them what they’ve waited a long time for.

“I’m excited about hitting the UK and Europe in general because the energy over there is electric,” he starts, about to go off on a tangent. “The fans over there take live shows to the next level and I’m excited to experience it for myself. I’ve had some really special moments with my international fans and was able to see how they are with me. You could tell that they weren’t just there because it’s something that’s cool, they were there because they believe in the music,” he shares, reminiscing on such times.

“I think that’s where America falls slightly behind compared to the UK,” he bravely states. “I want to say LA is starting to get it though. You know, we have a scene of about five hundred to a thousand kids every week that are going to underground shows and I’m there. I’m with them and we’re creating a real community out here,” he shines a light on the ever-growing scene. “It’s super exciting to be a part of and I feel like it’s much more genuine than it’s ever been. I hope this tour can create the same sense of community for me.”

The upcoming year promises to be a big one for jxdn as his future plans consist of releasing more music, changing the world, and achieving new goals. “I feel like I’ve had enough breaks over the past three years so expect the exact opposite of a break from me,” he laughs but he’s definitely not joking. “I’ve got my tour lined up and a few side projects that I can’t wait to share with people. I’ve got bleach, my passion project band that is super grunge, where we just put on shows out of nowhere in these tiny venues. We’re going to do a skate park gig soon and one of my favourite things about this side project is that we’ll never release music,” he says. “We have about eight songs and we will only ever play them live which is really fun. It’s great seeing people turn up for that because they have no clue what they’re getting, they’re turning up out of pure love for music and what they’re going to get is raw emotion”.

“Other than that, I’m just going to put out more music. I don’t think I can stop now,” he quips. “Now that my albums out, I’m going to go on tour, enjoy it loads, probably put a song or two out before the UK/Europe leg, and then drop another project at the end of it all,” he lists, cementing the fact he’s deadly serious about not taking a break.

“This albums so important for me and the rest of my career because it’s showing everyone where I’m heading,” he begins, wrapping us up on the reason we’re having this call. “I’m heading towards no autotune, full band tracks, the type of stuff that you can constantly vision live,” he exclaims. “People want things to sound perfect and precious these days and that’s taken away from the art of music. Luckily, Travis has always given me space to be authentic”.

“I remember when I first met with him and a bunch of labels, I told them I just want to make music that saves the world. That was, and still is, my purpose and mission in life,” he reiterates for what feels like the hundredth time yet does so in a way that’s earnest. “I’m so grateful for him and I can’t believe it took me all of that to say everything is actually happening for me,” he laughs. “People can think what they want but I know the only way to make music is if I’m making it for myself and that’s what this album is,” he notes. “I just want people to understand I don’t want to be famous, I don’t want to blow up, I just want to play the music, connect with my fans, and affect culture with everything I do”.

“I don’t want the end game right now,” he says, bringing our insightful call to a close. “I’ve learned I don’t want stadiums, I don’t want arenas, not yet anyway. That’s cool for the story to close it off but I’ve got so much to do before that. I’ve got such a journey ahead of me. Music feels liberating and revolutionary and that’s how it should always be.”

‘WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS’ is out now.

Words: Shannon Garner
Photo Credit: Harry Toohey

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