No one’s as grateful as Jackson Guthy. He is grateful for his four phones, all of which have dutifully recorded roughly 10,000 song snippets. He’s grateful for the French fry emoji (which is added to the favorites). He’s grateful for the five years he took off music, and the plethora of praise he’s received upon his return. Most of all, Jackson Guthy is grateful just to be here.
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Guthy’s gratitude is perhaps derived from the fact he’s been through this all before. A pianist at just four-years-old and frontman by 15, Guthy boasts catching the the attention of American Idol veteran Randy Jackson and opening for One Direction among his adolescent accomplishments. Consequently, burnout hit young, and the singer becoming quickly disillusioned with the state of the industry and his place in it. Now, the 23-year-old California native is starting over—his soulful new single, “Giants,” a gravelly take on pop-rock that’s no doubt soon to be a mainstay in the Hot 100. The updated sound is a testament to Guthy’s growth, definitively reaffirming his route to full-fledged stardom. Get ready for Jackson Guthy—he’s back, and ready to take over.
What went into the creation of Jackson Guthy the artist?
“A lot. When you’re 15-years-old you have zero clue who you want to be, so I took some time off to create what would be a foundation for who am I in this new phase of my career. It helped me work out a sound and a message that I wanted to get across…where I wanted to grow from. I think “Giants” was a great beginning point for me.”
Why did you feel like you needed to take time off?
“In hindsight, while I was always really appreciative of that time in my life and I got a really good taste of the next level when I was supporting these big acts, I needed to work out how I could enter the industry in a way I was really proud of. Like I want to look back in 20 years and be really proud. But where I was then it felt like I was never going to manifest into that—so I needed the time to learn and grow. Now I’m in this position where I have a phenomenal team of people who believe in me and an arsenal of songs to grow from here.”
It also seems as though you’re grounded in a way a lot of artists who start so young—and don’t take a hiatus—really struggle to be.
“It was never my stage to walk on before. I needed to find out who I was. I saw that it was so much work, and if you’re not doing something you’re really proud of there’s no point doing it. If you’re excited and passionate about what you’re creating people feed off that and it makes them feel a similar way. And what I’ve been doing now I’m pretty damn excited about, it’s what the five years was all for. I’m willing to put in that work.”
Have you felt a shift in how you’re treated in the industry? Are you being taken more seriously?
“I’ve just had some of the craziest meetings and had people say the craziest stuff to me which feels like a super strong starting point to me. I haven’t experienced anything like that so far.”
It must be difficult not to be caught up in that, when you’re trying to find your identity as an artist.
“Right. Anyone who goes into this industry trying to be the next somebody else you’re always going to be the second person to someone else. I don’t ever want to be an artist just known for a song, I want to be known for a library of songs. I’m putting all my chips on doing what I want to do. I’ve been busting my ass on the piano for eight years and as soon as someone hears of you they think your an overnight success.”
Speaking of, what’s it like going from a five-piece to a solo act?
“I feel like sometimes you have to go down a lane that you don’t know if it’s right or not, but I was just trying to go down so many different lanes that I what I was making didn’t feel like myself. Now I feel like I’m going in to create something I’d listen to, that I grew up listening to. It just feels like I’m finally back to being myself. “Giants” is a complete left-field odd-ball from who I was. I’m putting to rest who I was and opening the door to putting out what I’m super proud of.”
Do you ever get caught up in the numbers?
“You definitely can get lost in it. But I feel like if you focus on music and let those on the business side deal with business, then it’s easier. I never want to blend charts with the music, if the reach is 500 or 5000 people, it doesn’t matter to me. It will never make me feel different. I just want to produce quality.”