Every now and then, you hear a song or listen to an album and you find it nearly impossible to accurately describe what was just heard with words. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s bad.
Electronic artist Jackson Stell — known by his stage name Big Wild — has a sound that is nearly indescribable. And, in this case, that is a very good thing as the music blends genres with ease.
This past February, he released his debut album, Superdream, to widespread praise from both critics and fans. Big Wild is now on the Superdream Tour and will be in Madison playing at The Sylvee this week — bringing his unique, futuristic sound that would make any 80’s-wave fan proud.
Prior to his arrival, he spoke with The Daily Cardinal about his blossoming career, the past and the future.
Where does the name Big Wild come from?
“The name is really about embracing the new, being adventurous and being curious,” said Stell. “I was going through a big period of change in my life and moving across the country to Big Sur, California… I was really inspired by the landscape.”
Stell himself is a fan of other artists in the same genre or who create a similar type of music. He had a response indicative of his ever-changing style of music when asked which bands or artists he would call his main influences.
“Honestly, it really varies depending on who I’m into at the time. I’ve been a big fan of Tame Impala for a while, but I’m also really into Glass Animals and Flume.”
Before moving to California and deciding on the name Big Wild, Stell worked as a hip-hop beat producer in his home state of Massachusetts and was known by the name J Beatz.
“I was really influenced by hip-hop producers when I was first getting going, like Dr. Dre, The Neptunes or Timbaland. As time goes on, my influences seem to change and I think that’s also reflected in how, as you said, my music morphs into different genres depending on the project of the song.”
I asked Stell how he would describe himself as an artist, and he seems to highly value the addition of singing to his music.
“In terms of a title, Producer/songwriter. I definitely come from a production background. But having written my own lyrics and getting more into vocals, I think it’s fair to say that the title of songwriter should be a part of that as well.”
Since it is a very difficult task to put into words what Big Wild’s music is like on any given song or album, I hoped Stell could do a better job offering a description of his sound. I asked how he would describe his music to someone that’s never heard it, and his answer was of someone that struggles to describe the sound as much as everyone else does.
“That’s a tough question. I’d probably say, something along the lines of electronic, indie, songwriter? I don’t know. It’s really just such a blend of different things. I’m not really sure how to give it a full description, at least based off genres.”
I wondered what Stell considers to be the best part of being able to travel to different cities, sharing his music with thousands of people.
He said, “I think the coolest part is being able to realize that there are people that are into my music all around the country. I think that’s pretty special. It’s always been kind of a goal of mine — to make something that’s universal and a lot of people can understand and relate with.”
This is the best way to describe Big Wild to someone: it’s for everyone. There are so many layers and dimensions on every song. The attention to detail and level of dedication is inspiring and impressive to say the least.
Big Wild has been to Madison in the past few years, but The Sylvee will be able to house the tons of fans sure to make their way through a cold Wisconsin night for a night filled with great music.
“I have been to Madison. I played at a smaller venue… right in the middle of town. That was the only time, but it was really fun.”
Big Wild — with EVAN GIIA and Ark Patrol — perform tonight, Thursday, at The Sylvee off East Washington Avenue at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 6:30 p.m..
John Everman is an Arts Editor for The Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.