Published on April 10th, 2020 | by MuzikScribe0
TJ Jackson: Carrying On Tradition
For “ICSI” we wanted a track that had a “four on the floor” beat, but also had some jazz elements. We felt that was a combination that never was really explored in music. As the song developed, we wanted to make sure it had some old school elements so we did some lush harmonies and added more authentic instrumentation.
This follows right on the heels of two previous entries; “I Don’t Deserve This” and “Insomnia” — Talk to me about both of these compositions…
“Insomnia” is a pure love song. Too often the term carries with it a negative connotation, and I wanted to write about an actual positive experience of insomnia I had. It was just me and my wife, and we didn’t want the night to end. It’s that simple. Although we had obligations the next morning, we weren’t going to let anything interfere with our magical night. As for “IDDT,” I feel too often people are settling in relationships that aren’t healthy ones. I have some people I truly care about that are in toxic relationships and aren’t being respected. And this is my song to them. Too often we settle and when it comes down to relationship and who we are going to depend the bulk of our life with, I feel the last thing we should do is settle. Your other half should lift you up, and if they aren’t it’s time for change.
Of course all three songs come courtesy of your brand new EP, ‘Obsession’ — Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?
Music for me has been an obsession. People see second generation Jackson and think it’s something I fell into. But really music is something I’ve been pursuing since I was a little boy. My brothers and I have always wanted to be like my father and uncles. And we took it seriously. We wanted to be them, which meant we put a lot of hours into our craft because our parents knew what kind of scrutiny we would get…so I wanted to make sure my first EP referred to all years of me and my brothers putting in the work.
How then does this new solo material either differ and / or compare to what you are already both known and loved for as 1/3 of 3T?
Well being the youngest brother of 3T, there were was a lot of deferring I did with 3T. I like to consider myself a team player, so I wouldn’t always fight til the end for ideas I was passionate about. But now as a solo artist, I can take my music and art wherever I want to go and it’s very liberating. I’m enjoying it tremendously, and feel like there is still a lot I want to say and do artistically.
Reflecting, tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Tito Joe Jackson?
I’ve been into music for as far back as I remembered. We were so blessed to have a father and uncles who were performing at the highest level, and when you get an inside look at the impact you can have as a musician it’s pretty hard to not want to do the same thing. But, yeah, we thought we were the Jacksons! My brothers and I would dress up like them and use broomsticks and mops as microphone stands and try to mimic them. When our parents noticed our passion, they got us instruments so we could really learn to play. And we would rehearse every day to try to impress them. That’s how it started for us.
Now you’re from Los Angeles, CA, correct? So growing up in the ‘City of Angels’ – as part of a musical dynasty no doubt – who all – maybe even aside from obvious familial input – did / do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?
Our strongest musical influence was easily our family. From the Jacksons to Michael to Janet. They’ve influenced more than any act. But we were also still very influenced by Earth, Wind and Fire, Lionel Richie, Kool and the Gang and others. We used to see these acts and many more every time they would come to L.A. for a performance, so we were really fortunate to be surrounded by great acts.
Because of being a Jackson, was there ever any question as to whether or not music would ultimately become your livelihood?
Yes, I honestly feel at least one of us from 3T would have been a professional baseball player. We were all good as kids. Making the paper constantly for our achievements on the diamond. I know for me I was obsessed with baseball to the point were I didn’t miss a game. So, yes, I could easily pursued a baseball career, but being the youngest brother I felt that since my brothers didn’t pursue it in college that it was only right if I followed in their footsteps and pursued 3T instead of baseball.
Was a solo career always in the plans? I never even realized 3T – especially seeing that y’all are bio brothers – ever really officially broke up…
A solo career was not something I thought about a lot to be honest. It just seemed like as we got older our creative interests weren’t as much in unison. And, no, we haven’t broken up. We can’t break up. We are brothers. 3T will always be there. It’s just we are in a phase in life were it just feels right for us each to pursue individual goals. I’m confident that at some point we will come back together and do another 3T album. And the good thing is I think at that point we will all be re-energized and re-inspired to do it at the level we know we can.
That said, how do you classify your overall sound and / or style?
I feel my style is old school R&B with modern elements. I grew up on ’90’s R&B. I love that sound, so it’s kind of where I default to whenever I create. With that said I love to explore different styles of music, but at the core of everything will be that old school R&B.
He was the greatest uncle I could have ever asked for. He was someone that always had your back, and someone you could always trust. Where a lot of people around the world would say they were blessed to have his music or see him in concert, I truly feel blessed that I had him as an uncle. My memories with him will always be cherished. I miss him so much.
Do you have any funny / memorable stories or anecdotes when you think about your Uncle Michael? Fondest memories perhaps?
I remember when “Thriller” was at its height he would often pull over on the side of the road and go into the, “I’m not like other guys” bit. And that was at first scary for me since I was so young, but eventually I realized my uncle would never actually turn into a werewolf. But he would go into the whole bit trying to scare us all the time. And eventually we would be yelling at him and urging him to just drive, can we just go. lol… He loved that though. 🙂 great memories.
And how much of an overall impact did Michael have on both your personal, as well as professional, life?
Major impact. As an artist my uncle had a huge impact on me, but he even had a bigger impact on me as a person. He loved to help people, and seeing how much of a positive influence he had on so many was an amazing treat to see. He would say, “as an artist you can change people’s lives. So don’t take the power lightly. Use it for good.” And he did just that. Donating millions and millions of dollars, and spending so much time in hospitals trying to make life easier for those who needed help. That was who he was.
Lastly, what do you miss most about Michael Jackson?
I miss his laugh. He had an infectious loud laugh that was pure joy. I miss his laugh.
Switching gears here…
Longevity, what do you attribute yours to?
Passion. A love for creating and trying to do something great and unique. And humility. I really try not to have an ego. I feel many artists lose themselves when they drink the kool-aid, so I truly try to keep myself grounded and normal.
What do you want people to get from your music?
I want people to feel something when they hear my music. I believe music can elevate experiences, and I want my music to do just that. I want it to be a positive supplement to whatever it is they are going through, or what they are doing.
On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of R&B music?
I think there is a lot of great R&B out there. I just don’t think what is being played on the popular scene is the best of the best. And that’s unfortunate. I think we are moving to a place where real music and real sounds is being more and more appreciated, and that is always a good thing.
Do you have any other outside / additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?
I want to get more into acting. I did a cameo in the BET’s The Influencer, which just came out, and I really enjoyed it. So, yes, in the next couple of years I am really going to start pursuing more acting opportunities.
To date, what has been your greatest career achievement(s), at least thus far anyway?
I would say selling out a European arena tour with my brothers off of our first album ‘Brotherhood.’ We spent a good 10 years rehearsing, practicing and dreaming of selling out shows. And for it to happen off our first album was truly a dream. It was a big time for us and our whole family. I’ll never forget our grandmother telling us that our grandfather was crying during the show, and that was like the biggest compliment. For Joe Jackson to cry. That was a big deal! 🙂
I think “Insomnia” defines me quite well. It’s a love song, and I’m all about love. It’s got those authentic sounds, married with modern sounds which is my sound. And also the title Insomnia. I love flipping negative experiences into positive ones.
Finally, what’s next for you, TJ?
I just released my first EP ‘Obsession,’ which is the first of a trilogy. I will release the next two in the next 12 months, and then an album. I have a lot of music to release, and will continue to provide strong visuals and experiences for my fans to enjoy. My fans – LoyalTs – have been nothing but amazing during this run, and I look forward to keeping it going and keeping them satisfied.
Oh and by the way, some may or may not know this, but you gained guardianship of your Uncle Michael’s three children following his untimely passing in 2009 — How are Prince, Paris and “Blanket” doing these days?
My cousins are doing well. I couldn’t be any more proud of who they are becoming. I will always be supporting them and having their back. Always.
Also, what’s the current status of 3T? I know Taryll has a new single currently out as well…
3T is on break. 3T is recharging. Taryll released his latest song, “Next Time I Fall In Love,” which I love. I am doing my thing, and Taj is working on a documentary that will show the real Michael Jackson.
Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?
I don’t think so. Thank you. Great questions.
Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
Stay grateful. We are all so blessed. Often times we lose sight of how fortunate we all are. So be thankful, stay humble and remember to smile. Thank you all for your support of me and my family over all these years. God bless you.
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