Singer-songwriter TJ Jackson Details Growing Up in the Business, Coming into His Artistry, and Lessons He’s Learned from His Father
With a voice like that of TJ Jackson (son of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Tito Jackson), on the music tip, he’s certainly someone you wouldn’t mind keeping you up all night.
A legendary talent to match his legendary last name, this songbird has had greatness oozing from his vocal cords since adolescence. Born to entertainment sovereignty—his father being 1/5 of the way-paving quintet, The Jackson 5—every note singing from his soul is bound to come naturally.
With an aunt as paramountly influential as Janet Jackson and an uncle as worldly heroic as Michael Jackson, nothing less is to be expected.
However, it’s the influence that TJ Jackson, himself, carries that he hopes will someday deem him a hero in his own right. That influence that we speak of began twenty-odd years ago, when he, alongside his brothers, Taj and Taryll, successfully hit the scene with their record-breaking trio, 3T.
Releasing their debut album, Brotherhood, in 1995, the group went on to see global success, surpassing fellow boy bands like Boyz II Men on the international charts. They even became one of the biggest-selling groups in Europe, creating a household name for themselves… that would go on for generations to come.
Three albums later, 3T still lives within the walls of many homes. But, current day, TJ Jackson has been diligently working to build the foundation of his own empire, re-entering the industry as a solo artist.
After taking time off to nurture his art, the California-grown crooner has come back to give us an even bigger and better version of what he loves to do: entertain.
Whereas R&B has seen a major decline over the recent years, Jackson’s debut single, “Insomnia,” has been part of the effort to revive it. In the song, which seductively explores the effects of lust, love, and sexual liberation, Jackson’s falsetto pitch glides smoothly over the mature melody. Not only does it give off that grown-up vibe, but it also provides the satisfying sound that he’s always been known for.
If you were sleeping on TJ Jackson before, there’s no more time for sleeping because he definitely just woke us all up.
Maybe insomnia isn’t such a bad thing after all.
We recently sat down with TJ Jackson to talk growing up in the business, coming into his artistry, and lessons he’s learned from his father.
Check out the TJ Jackson interview below!
Parlé Mag: So, as we know, you’re no stranger to the music scene. Not only do you come from a family dynasty in the business, The Jacksons, but you were also a part of the chart-topping group 3T, along with your brothers, where you guys saw major success.
TJ Jackson: Yes!
Parlé Mag: However, present-day, you’re more so branching into your solo artistry. So, talk to us about that. How has the mental process been? Going from taking on such an aggressive industry as a collective to now on your own?
TJ Jackson: It just feels like it’s the right time. All my experiences in the industry, with 3T, have helped prepare me and ready me for this exact moment. I’m feeling good! One of the things I’ve always been concerned about, in the past, was how I would feel doing everything on my own. I’m more of a “team player” kind of guy. But, sometimes, you get through different phases of your life, and it just seems like now is the right time to do my thing. My brothers and I, we’re all three different people. So, all our interests aren’t going to align perfectly. This is a time where we had different ideas of what we wanted to do in our lives, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m doing my music career.
Parlé Mag: When and why did you sort of come to the conclusion that you were ready to spread your wings and embark on an individual career?
TJ Jackson: It was about a couple of years ago. I’ve always played with the idea, but nothing ever really serious. Because I’ve been writing since I was seven years old!
Parlé Mag: Wow!
TJ Jackson: Yes! Seven, eight years old. Just messing around with music, singing, and coming up with ideas. So, it’s something that was always in the back of my head, but it was really two years ago [when I came to that conclusion]. I was doing a lot of writing in Nashville, for different artists, and I just came across a couple of songs that felt right for me. That’s when my interest kind of turned into me saying, “Maybe I should start doing something on my own and put together my own project that reflects where I’m currently at, musically.”
Parlé Mag: The world of entertainment is forever changing. Around the time that 3T rose to stardom, and even before that, groups were very popular. But, nowadays, that’s not exactly the case. They don’t last as long as they used to. So, in your opinion, as someone who’s walked that path, why do you think that is? Why are groups no longer getting the recognition that they deserve?
TJ Jackson: A lot of it is economics, too. The music industry is in a healthy place; right now, it’s doing quite well. But just as few as three years ago, it was in not so great of a place. The last ten years, overall, haven’t been the strongest. So, from a business perspective, when it’s not as lucrative, you cut down members, because every member costs money. Also, as the music industry continues to grow, gets stronger, I think groups will come back. Things go in heavy flows. There was a boy band period, then there was a solo artist period. But what I love about today is, it seems like those kinds of periods won’t last as long. The landscape is more wide open. For any artist out there, it’s a great time to join in and to do your art.
Parlé Mag: Let’s get into your newly-released single, “Insomnia.” Such a great song!
TJ Jackson: Thank you!
Parlé Mag: No problem. What inspired you to do that record?
TJ Jackson: I wanted to do a flip on that word. “Insomnia” is a word that always has some type of negative connotation to it.
Parlé Mag: Oh, yeah. Definitely.
TJ Jackson: People suffer from insomnia, or they look for answers to cure theirs. So, I just wanted to do a flip on it. And it is a true experience, where I was with my loved one, up late at night, and we didn’t want the night to end. We were enjoying every single minute. I didn’t feel like that idea was represented in the outside world, so that’s where the concept of writing that song came from. And, musically, it’s just a throwback! I wanted to do something that paid homage to the time period I grew up in, the nineties R&B. I wanted to do something that was a hat off to that but also current… at the same time.
Parlé Mag: Being that this track is a different type of vibe for your sound, did you have any reservations when it came to how the fans would receive it?
TJ Jackson: Yes and no. In terms of releasing it, no. I believe you do what’s in your heart and you be authentic to where you’re at, at that time. When I say “yes,” it’s only because I do care a lot about my fans, and I want them to enjoy it. I try to make the best quality work for them. So, it’s yes and no. From the outside, you know, the big picture, absolutely not. But, if you want to get technical, for fans, I wanted them to be happy. I don’t know where I’m going to go next. I do feel that I have a lot of R&B-influenced music to come out with, but I love acoustic stuff; I love blues; I love some light rock stuff. So, I don’t know where I’m going to go, on a long-term level, but for now, I’m staying true to my R&B roots.
Parlé Mag: Having been gone from the industry for quite some time now, what would you say you learned most about yourself, creatively, during your hiatus?
TJ Jackson: I just learned that I can’t escape it. [laughs]
Parlé Mag: Good lesson! [laughs]
TJ Jackson: There are times where I try to unplug because the industry, being in it so long, it can get draining and toxic. There were times where I tried to shut off or unplug for a long period of time—whether it was three months, four months—but it just wasn’t happening. I was always hearing melodies, always singing, ad-libbing to songs, making things up, and playing guitar. So, as for what I’ve learned from it, I’ve learned that I’m not going to escape it. Music is something I’m always going to be doing, I really believe, until I’m no longer in this world.
Parlé Mag: Coming from this legendary family, Mr. Tito Jackson being your father, have you ever felt pressured to live up to the iconic bars that they’ve set in the business? Does it get overwhelming at times?
TJ Jackson: When we were young, we never felt pressured. I say “we” as in my brothers and me. I think as time goes, I do feel a bit more pressure, and it’s only because I have a deeper understanding of the legacy. When I was young, and it was just my uncles and father and family—I don’t know if it was me being youthful or what, but I didn’t feel any pressure. Now, it’s a little bit. Nothing too overbearing to the point where I struggle.
Parlé Mag: Right.
TJ Jackson: I have those high expectations for myself, so I put the pressure there. It’s beyond just my family. I love my family, I’m proud of my family, and I’m aware of what my family has achieved, but I’m also doing this to do the absolute best work that I can do. I’m a competitor, and I want to make things great. So, if you have that mindset, I don’t think the pressure is as intense.
Parlé Mag: I agree! So, what is the biggest lesson you’ve taken from your parents that has helped shape you into the man you are today?
TJ Jackson: To give back! And to be humble, to be empathetic to others. That was a lesson that both of my parents really pushed on us when we were kids. I think, sometimes, if you grow up in a privileged world, you can develop an ego and think that you’re above everyone, or you don’t need to do certain things. My parents were very aware of it, and they really made that the focus. I’d say that was the biggest lesson. You know? To be a good person, to stay grounded, and to be respectful.
Parlé Mag: That’s amazing! Because I can imagine that growing up in a privileged world, it could kind of make you lose sight of yourself for a minute.
TJ Jackson: Absolutely! One hundred percent. I can say this with total honesty; I don’t think we ever lost a sense of being real. That’s because of our father. He’s the Jackson member you could find in Home Depot right now! [laughs]
Parlé Mag: [laughs] I love it!
TJ Jackson: [He’d be] looking for a specific screw! He would take us and be in sandals or flip flops and a tank top. That’s my pops! That’s who our idol was; that’s who we grew up wanting to be like. So, when that’s your father and your idol, and you’re proud of that, I don’t think you stray too far away from that. And that’s where we’re at.
Parlé Mag: Growing up around your uncle, who we know as the King of Pop, Mr. Michael Jackson, I’m sure you have so many precious memories that you’ll cherish forever. On your Instagram, the day of his birthday, you actually referred to him as “the greatest uncle one could ask for.” What side of him do you remember that you wish the world had gotten to see?
TJ Jackson: The world has already seen a lot of it, but I couldn’t emphasize it enough; just how giving and caring he was. Whether it was an employee, a relative, a friend, or even a stranger, if he saw someone in need, he’d go out of his way to make sure that they’re not only taken care of but they’re exceeded. He would just give money to people who needed it. Whether we were down the street or wherever. If there was a homeless person, he’d give them hundreds of dollars. Out of the blue. That’s just who my uncle was. He was in The Guinness Book of World Records for all his givings. I feel that’s one thing that still needs to be emphasized on and promoted more—his philanthropic tendencies.
Parlé Mag: In what way do you hope to continue to represent the Jackson name through your music and your brand?
TJ Jackson: When I think of the Jackson brand, I think of it as entertaining, positive, and contributing.
Parlé Mag: Certainly!
TJ Jackson: That’s something I want to do; I want to contribute to the world, make it positive, and entertain people! Those are the three things that I really try to focus on, to make sure I’m doing the right thing. That’s what my family has always done. It’s not like we had a meeting and said, “Okay, these are the three things we all have to achieve!” [laughs]
Parlé Mag: [laughs]
TJ Jackson: It’s kind of inherently in us. We want to be great, we want to do it the right way, and be a good influence on people. I have many awards, plaques, and certifications, but it’s the personal moments that fans, or people who have listened to our music, share with me that I cherish the most. So, for me, it’s just about contributing to people’s lives.
Parlé Mag: I’m sure that leaving an impact is worth more than awards or anything! So, I get it.
TJ Jackson: Yes! I don’t know if that was the way we were taught or saw it with our family. It could even be the fact that our family has achieved so much. I have to be realistic; I’m not going to top the Thriller record; I’m not going to be more successful than Michael. I don’t know if anyone will! To be honest. [laughs]
Parlé Mag: Exactly!
TJ Jackson: So, my goals and objectives don’t align with that. I want to be successful; I want to do great, but that’s not my primary. My primary is to make an impact on my listeners and fans.
Parlé Mag: Give us some details on your upcoming EP, Last Night. Where did the title come from?
TJ Jackson: It’s a song on the EP, and it’s the working title for the project as well. There are five songs that I’m going to release on the EP. They’re going to be a little bit different from each other, but they’re all going to be representative of me. They’re all songs that I wrote. I think it’s coming in November!
Parlé Mag: Okay, okay!
TJ Jackson: I just don’t know what date yet. I’m excited for it to come. The feedback I’ve been getting from people who’ve heard it, it’s been really strong. I’m excited to take the next step in my career!
Parlé Mag: What can listeners expect from this project?
TJ Jackson: People are going to be a little bit surprised, but, hopefully, in a good way. A lot of people still see me as just the teen from 3T. Like I’m frozen in time! [laughs] I’ve gone through a lot in life, and I’ve experienced a lot, grown a lot. I’m pouring all of that into my music. So, everything is a bit more mature, with a bit more depth and a bit more meaning.
Parlé Mag: As you move forward, what’s next for you?
TJ Jackson: Well, as I said, I have the EP coming in November! I’m going to keep continuing to record because my goal is to release a full-length album by the middle of 2020.
Parlé Mag: Awesome!
TJ Jackson: Also, acting. I did a guest appearance on an upcoming BET movie, called The Influencer, and that was a lot of fun! I’ve always wanted to act, and I finally got my first little role.
Parlé Mag: Congratulations!
TJ Jackson: Thank you! It was a very enjoyable experience. [Acting is] something I’m going to put more time and energy into developing because it was really impactful for me.
Parlé Mag: Any final words to your supporters?
TJ Jackson: I just want to thank them for all their love and support through the years, through the ups and downs. I want to remind everyone that they can join my newsletter, which I write once a week. It follows my journey; it’s the best way to stay current with where I’m at, on a deeper level, and to see what’s coming up for me. So, I would suggest that people go to my website and subscribe to my newsletter. Of course, I have all my handles for social media that you guys can follow me on as well.
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