It would be slightly misleading to label Jackson Stell (AKA Big Wild) as up and coming. By many peoples standards the east coast native is already well into the process of becoming a fully-fledged phenom in the music world. He’s toured with artists such as Kodak to Graph, Griz, and Odesza. His track “Aftergold” released on Odesza’s Foreign Family label has reached more than 2.6 million plays on Soundcloud. Despite his unassumingly boyish looks, Big Wild is a very sophisticated and enormously talented producer and musician, often playing several instruments during his live sets. This young virtuoso electrified the crowd at a recent performance at Flames Central and we were lucky enough to pick his brain before his set

Are you originally from California?

I’m actually from Massachusetts originally. People link my name with California because that’s kind of where my career really took off but I was born and raised in Massachusetts.

What lead to the name Big wild?

The name was inspired by my first trip to California six months before I moved down there. I visited Big Sur and I was really inspired by the landscape. I’m not sure how those two words popped into my head but after visiting it sort of came to me. I wanted something nice and simple but that drew some imagery when you say it.

When did you first get into making music and why? 

I first starting producing when I was thirteen and I was just making hip-hop beats. I was very inspired by a lot of instrumentals I was hearing. From there I began to analyse my favorite producers but it was more of a hobby all the way through high school. After a while I began to think I could go somewhere with this and I began to take it more seriously. I got a lot more into electronic music in college. I wanted to make music that could stand on its own without being just instrumentals with vocals over it. I wanted to make something I could play which is just my song and that was when I started to make things that were a bit more experimental and unique. There’s still a lot of influence of hip hop in terms of the structure and sounds in my music but I try to make it so that it can stand on its own.

Your music has often been described as organic, with lots of natural sounds as well as tribal influenced percussion instruments, what would you say are your main influences for this sound?

Honestly I don’t know. It’s just what I naturally gravitate to. I’ve always really loved percussion, and I feel like the different sorts of sounds I use for percussions add liveliness to a song. It can add some nice texture to it too. As far as the organic sounds go, I just think that I never wanted my music to be too synthetic. I wanted it to be a bridge between something instrumental and something electronic and the natural sounds were a good way to create that hybrid.

What is it like getting support from Odesza and releasing on the Foreign Family collective label?

It has been great. It started as something random. They found my music on Soundcloud and dug it. It’s funny because I opened up for them for three shows, two in San Francisco and one in LA and the only reason I opened up for them was because Hayden James who’s preforming after me tonight wasn’t able to get his American visa sorted in time so they needed a last second replacement. That was my big break. After meeting them they asked me to do the remix of say my name and then everything else after that. Yeah it was a crazy lucky break.

What are the best and worst parts of touring?

I would almost say the best parts of touring are the worst parts of touring. The best part is that there’s not really a structure to your day, a lot of curve balls get thrown your way which makes it interesting. It sucks you into touring and focused on what you’re doing on a day to day basis and not really thinking about the future at all. At the same time that makes it tough to work on music. I feel like you need some structure to work on music consistently as well as have a more long term vision of what you want to do. It’s a lot easier to work on music when I’m not touring.

Have you collaborated with your dad on any tracks other than Venice Venture?

I haven’t. I definitely have to have him bring out the guitar for another song! That little lick he came up with was so spur of the moment, I should totally have him do it again. I don’t know if I’d ever bring him on tour though. I had him play one show when I was in Massachusetts and he’s performed live before, but he was super nervous and I felt kind of bad for putting him in that situation. I feel like I were to something like that in the future I’d definitely have to give him some coaching or something first. I still get nervous before a show. I think that’s because I really care about making something special.

What are you currently working on these days?

Right now, after I finish this tour I’m preforming at Grizmas in Detroit, then at SnowGlobe after that. Once that’s done I will have three months off, which will be spent working on some new material. I already have some tracks that are soon to be released that I can’t really talk about. My plans right now are just to make as much new music as possible and hopefully get an album ready for release next year. I’m also working on a headline tour for next year. It will be much smaller then this but I’m really excited to get to do my own thing.


Check out Big Wild on:

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Written By: Nura Ali

Photo By: Stoked on Photos

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