Stacey Jackson :: Call her Ms. Jackson, but not MILF
Hmmm, the name Stacey Jackson not ringing any bells? Haven’t heard her name being tossed around with the Katy Perrys, the Lady Gagas, and Beyonces of the world?
Well, it probably won’t be long before all that changes, because this U.K. Dance music charter is about to make an invasion in North America, and judging from her success in London, the writing is on the wall for Ms. Jackson to join the legion of female pop stars we have come to love. Now I’m not saying that Stacey Jackson has been around the block, but she has the maturity, four kids, and a wealth of life’s experiences to know a thing or two about what it takes to make good music that people of varying generations will care to listen to.
Jackson found success with producing an album of Motown classic covers on her debut album "Upside Down" that were later remixed to the delight of dance fans in the U.K. propelling her onto the U.K. Dance Chart. Not soon after, listeners got a taste of her writing skills with her #5 Dance Chart smash "I Am Women" in 2011 which solidified her earlier success as no fluke. In all she has charted two Top Five dance singles and four Top 20 dance songs on the U.K charts in just over two years.
She definitely has the talent, the pipes, the looks and yes, some birthdays behind her to join those dance divas that have made it in the States. It doesn’t hurt that she has worked with veteran hit making rapper Snoop Dogg on a track called "Live It Up" to be introduced later this year in North American radio and clubs. I had an opportunity to speak with the Londoner from her home about what it is like be a veteran in the music business because of age, what influences the music she writes, why the gay community embraces her, and how she feels about being called a MILF?
The other "Miss Jackson"
BeBe: It appears as if there will be another "Miss Jackson" here in the U.S. soon!
Stacey: Ok (both of us laughing).
BeBe: Yes, you are the new Miss Jackson which is wonderful. I think it is wonderful also because when we see you, one of the things that doesn’t come to mind is that you are a mother of four!
Stacey: Yep. Trust me. I’m a mum of four (laughs). And at four o’clock in the afternoon when they all come home from school it is absolute chaos here!
BeBe: You know being a mother also puts you into another category because you are so hot and sexy and talented.....
Stacey: (Interjecting)... oh, thank you!
BeBe: That puts you, at least for most straight men, in the M.I.L.F. category. You do know that?
Stacey: Yeah, I’ve been told (both roar with laughter). It isn’t something that I think of myself, but it has been known to come up. And whatever you do, don’t say it in front of my 16-year old because he doesn’t want to go for that.
Greatest Rocker Mom of All-Time
BeBe: And that has sort of supported by you being named the Greatest Rocker Mom of All-Time back in 2009 by the U.K.’s Female First ( an online lifestyle magazine), beating out the likes of Madonna and Tina Turner. That has to be something quite rewarding?
Stacey: I think they honored me with that title mostly because I am probably the oldest person in the dance music industry that actually came out with a hit record after being 40 years old for the first time. That’s probably why I may have made the grade.
BeBe: And you have done well competing with a much younger crop of musicians in the dance music genre. You have had success on the dance charts there in the U.K., namely and initially with "I Am Woman" (#5 on U.K. Dance Chart) that was released over a year ago.
Stacey: It was a soft launch (release). We deliberately did it in the U.K. In the clubs just to see if it would fare, and it did really well. So, this summer we will be releasing it internationally in the U.S. and Canada (Jackson’s native country) that will be great. The whole album "Live It Up" will come out at the end of 2012. It’s all good. It was a great song and I’m really proud of it.
BeBe: What was the inspiration behind "I Am Woman"? I know it has been heralded as being one of the biggest dance hits in the U.K. In 2011, but also it is an anthem for the women back there. Tell me how the song all came about.
Stacey: I wrote it with that sort of empowering thing that I am woman and I know what I want. I’ve always been that kind of control freak (happily chuckles), you know. It is sort of an ’I am just going to take the bull by the horns,’ so to speak, and ’I am in control’ kind of track. I think the whole album, or most of my songs, I’ve written about experiences I’ve had. I think because I am older, and I’ve been through different generations of musical influences, I can write songs about being empowered and going out and living your dreams. That is exactly what I am hoping the album "Live It Up" is going to convey.
BeBe: You bring up your musical influences, your debut album in 2009 "Upside Down" was a cover of Motown songs.
Stacey: Isn’t it funny. It really rocked out, actually. You know I grew up in the 70s, and I love disco and I love Motown. Even in my original tracks you will hear some of those disco strings come through. And then in the 80s I went totally hard rock, a big haired, bandana-wearin’ teenager... Motley Crue, Guns ’N Roses and the whole thing. In the original version of "I Am Woman" it has the heavy guitar in it, because that (hard rock) is what I pulled from. So, I think I’m kind of fortunate because throughout the generations of music, I think I’ve kind of evolved musically. Now when I write, I have different reference points I can pull from.
BeBe: What I like about what you are saying is that songs of old, like the Motown sound, and I know one of your hits was a cover of "Band of Gold" by Freda Payne, were about life’s experiences. Those songs were written like that. You seem to carry that over in your writing.
Stacey: I think a lot of artists who write their own material, in particular, are pulling from sort of experience. I write about relationships with my children, relationship with my husband, anything in my world that I can relate to and pull from.
Connecting with Snoop Dog
BeBe: Speak to me about the single "Live It Up" with Snoop Dogg which definitely went wild in the U.K. Hitting the #2 spot on its dance chart. You have to tell me how you ended up recording with Snoop.
Stacey: It’s a funny story. I actually accidentally found some success with the first album, I say accidentally because it was a charity album. I worked with kids from Music For Youth here in the U.K., and I sprinkled about 40 of these kids from the U.K all over the album. We had them on strings, in the choir and all over. And "Band of Gold" (#17 on U.K. Dance Chart) was the first one from that album that got remixed, largely because it got so much buzz because we raised about 20,000 pounds (approximately $10,000 U.S. dollars) from the album. So the DJs remixed it and all of a sudden there’s Stacey Jackson sitting (on the charts) between Lady Gaga and the Scissor Sisters.
So with that, I started to get phone calls from esteemed and acclaimed producers and DJs who have worked with Annie Lennox, Girls Aloud, James Morrison... I mean big people, and they all wanted me to write with them. So, it was really amazing. I wrote "Live It Up" based on a dream I had with my late father who came to visit me in my dream, I know this may sound a bit strange, but it is true! He said that this is your time. Now is your time. You’ve got to live it up. So, I woke up spooked out and wrote a song. I wrote exactly about this dream, and then I thought wouldn’t it be nice to have a rapper on it? And, I thought I’d revisit the kids from the charity album.
But my manager at the time said I was a different place (in my career) now. We should go for the gold. Why don’t we send the track to Snoop Dogg. It was just as random as that. Five days later I was on a plane to Boston to record with Snoop. He loved every bit of it. He loved the story. He loved that I’m living my dream. We both have kids that are same age. He thought it was all fabulous. And most important, he loved the track.
Back to her 80s roots
BeBe: Wow! So, what I’m hearing in your story is that one of the connections you had with Snoop Dogg is that you are a mom, with Snoop being a father and in the industry for a number of years. A lot of people don’t know how devout at being a father he is. He is really into his children.
Stacey: Yes, and he is married to his high school sweetheart. His kids get what he is doing and are supportive. The whole family has to be apart of the dream in order to make it work. It would be very difficult otherwise.
BeBe: You have also just released last month a cover of White Snake’s "Is This Love..."
Stacey: Yeah, I went back to my 80s roots (laughs). It brings back a lot of memories. It came out the year me and my husband first met. It was the original rock ballad. I always had this in my head that when I went into the dance world to take something so out of left field and try it work in the dance music world. So imagine how much fun I had in the studio doing this. And me and my management sort of felt that Stacey Jackson is not really quite known yet in the U.S., so maybe it is a good idea to come in with a cover so at least people will recognize the song. And then we can bring in "I Am Woman" and people will be able to make the connection. So that was the plan behind it.
BeBe: Now Stacey, you have credited a lot of where you are today in your career to your community of gay fans. We, as a community, have embraced your music. Why do you think you are someone the gay community in the U.K. has gravitated to?
Stacey: You know that is a really good question. When it all first started happening, I asked myself the same thing. Maybe (it’s) because I’m real. Maybe because I’m someone they can relate to. I don’t know. I love glamor. I love fashion. Also, I’m very tangible and very approachable. I find that to be very important. Gay people have always been apart of my world. I worked in New York in television for some time, and I had a lot of gay friends in the entertainment industry. My best friend is gay. I think, BeBe, they see that, that it is not fake. I really appreciate them. They love the music and love to dance.
BeBe: You know I’ve interviewed other musicians who have said that for their gay fans it is about the music. It is not about all the other hype. You are putting out there some good stuff, and we are embracing that. You are being honored for what you are putting out there musically.
Stacey: I absolutely agree!
BeBe: It may also be because you are an underdog winning a battle where the odds are against you. I mean I am sure when approaching music labels, age has been a factor against you. And you haven’t let that stop you from living your dream. You haven’t put barriers in front of you to stop you from living your dream.
Stacey: Amen. You’ve just said it right there!
Stacey Jackson is currently embarking on a U.S. club tour with 3Big Records at the following dates and venues: March 16 - Roscoe’s in Chicago; March 17 - Krave in Las Vegas; March 18 - Revolver Lounge in Los Angeles; March 21 - Mova Lounge in Miami
For future tour dates and upcoming single and album release dates, follow Stacey at her website.
As an actress, BeBe was introduced to film with a lead role in the independent film "Under One Sun" with her character dealing with religious, racial and gender issues. Additionally, she appeared in the campy musical "Devious, Inc" (Australian Film Festival, San Francisco Short Film Fest) also adding additional vocals to the musical soundtrack. Both of these performances led to her selection for a lead role in Aisha Media’s next short film series, "Con-tin.u.um" to be released in 2012.