Coco Columbia releases her new album Aug. 17 at Doug Fir. Ahead of the show, we spoke to the Portland artist about performance and anonymity, applying music to suffering and the balance between jazz and pop.
Jackson Boone is not a Portland band anymore. From one of his poems, he is “the Oregon Coast Wind and Nothingness.” The Portland native realized his calling early on, exploring realms of a rock n’ roll fast life before slowing down and finding strength in a connection to the natural world. Although he is set to travel and share his art, his home has been made with his family on the calm Oregon coast, where the sounds of wind and water have opened up musical portals.
We too, needed to escape the city. We drove through the forest and found ourselves overlooking a sparkling ocean from Boone’s dining room, where we discussed crystals, magic, and his latest release Natural Changes, before packing up and heading to Shortsands beach for an afternoon of surf.
ELEVEN: So the ocean calls to you?
Jackson Boone: I was raised in this area, and have innately been visiting here every summer. The grandiosity of the Pacific Ocean and especially this coastline is so inspiring. My wife and I had always discussed that we would move here later in life. But when my daughter was born, it became very clear that we needed to be here now.
I also surf, and that is a big part of it, too. It’s a healthy and harmonious way to stay healthy and be connected to the ocean. It’s really good for the soul, like music is. Being near that and living that lifestyle is what I was hoping to manifest by moving here. I am in recovery for addiction, I have been sober for almost two years. The city has a lot of toxicity in that regard. I am a really sensitive guy, and my wife is a very spiritual person and painter, so it made sense to move here with our daughter to slow down and become our highest potential as creative people, in a place beaming with pristine beauty. It’s so nurturing. This place–Haystack Rock and this long, very ancient coastline has a really unique positive energy that is almost otherworldly.
11: You have a song called “Haystack Rock-n-Roll?”
JB: I think i’m moving away from the rock n’ roll paradigm, and moving more towards emotional, big, deep, heavy celestial folk music. But I still play electric guitar and use fuzz pedals, so it’s still in that realm of rock. When I was heavily in addiction, as a young rocker kid, I was always devoted to music, it’s been clear from my inner sense of self that I wanted to be a musician and a songwriter. I really identified with rock, even the delusional aspects like substance abuse. I used to buy into that lifestyle to the point where it became unhealthy. But the music was ultimately what was important. The songs were my lexicon, as Bob Dylan would say.
11: Who are some of your influences?
JB: A lot of music being made by young people now is picking right up from the ’60s and ’70s. Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Eric Burden and The Animals, Jimi, Janis, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, The Grateful Dead, The Kinks, Jesse Colin Young, Captain Beefheart and blues like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. I’m reading an amazing autobiography on Frank Zappa. I had no idea he was such a composer, he literally wrote orchestral music everyday. He wasn’t just a freak rocker, and he was sober.
11: Were you a part of other musical projects before going solo?
JB: I went to art school in Denver where I studied painting and music and was in a band back in called Tantric Picasso. Then back in Portland a lo-fi art rock band called Big Girls.
11: Why did you title your new record Natural Changes?
JB: It sounded timeless to me. I had just become a father. The alteration of perspective in a man’s brain when he has a daughter is a natural change. Getting sober. The whole bigger picture. It’s pretty universal. Change is the only constant, as they say.
11: How did you come to have your albums produced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Riley Geare?
JB: I had been playing in bands for a while, newly into sobriety, newly married, and my wife was pregnant. I was just way in over my head. It seemed a little too good to be true, meeting Riles, the drummer of UMO, on Craigslist. When I met him I was in an emotionally unstable place. But the inner calling of creation was like a fire that cannot be tamed. He is awesome. The music becomes so cool and clear due to healing and transformation.
We recorded the first album, Starlit, in Riley’s home studio. For the new record we got to use nicer gear, and escaped to my family’s beach house. My grandfather left a big open home facing the water to my entire family. We cut the record and it turned out so well. Go some place beautiful, make something beautiful. We are going to do it there again for the next record.
11: What about recording live tracks?
JB: We recorded live tracks. We overdubbed a lot. We did basic tracking of rhythm guitar and bass and drums live.
11: And harp?
JB: Wolfgang Warneke is one of my bandmates and a very gifted multi-instrumentalist. He plays a little bit of everything really good: clarinet, saxophone, piano, violin, viola, cello, and harp.
11: It sounds like you have already begun writing material for your next album?
JB: I’ve been writing batches of songs every 6 months or so since I was 15.
11: You call yourself a wizard songwriter. There are a lot of cosmic and magical elements in your songs.
JB: I’m totally going for coastal wizard folk music. I just put together a cool montage/collage/video with a videographer friend to project at the album release. We were watching a lot of clips from cartoons from the ’60s: aliens, pyramids, tribal dancing, and then we came across an interview of a guy being interviewed about magic. He said white magic is any kind of expression to make the world a better place. It’s selfless, for the collective. It can be art, music, a plumber, a mother. Dark magic is for the self.
11: Portland is full of white magic then.
JB: And dark magic. I’ve been both myself.
11: Your other job is at a crystal shop?
JB: I work for a Reiki master and a healer and I sit behind a counter with crystals, jewelry, and wind chimes. It’s a perfect day job.
11: So if I need a crystal for clarity, to make a huge life decision, what crystal do I need?
JB: Fluorite brings mental clarity and is good for indecisiveness. It can help with clearing the channel of the Third Eye for people with clairvoyant tendencies.
11: What is your connection with the very large realm of spirituality?
JB: I get so caught up wanting to be a musician and to be a success, that it becomes stifling. I think spirituality and slowing down and health help to keep me humble and grounded, when I find myself getting lost in the realms of idea and thought. Intention and hope and ambition are a good thing to keep me going, the drive is good. But it’s also good finding a holistic approach.
I had been talking to this guy I know that is a surrealist painter and crystal healer. He blew my mind by saying “Yes, past lives are true, but all of your past lives are happening right now at the same time.” Like what Eckhart Tolle says in The Power of Now. The past and the future don’t exist and the present moment is all we will ever have. I don’t know, and I don’t need to know or understand the mysteries of endlessness, the great spirits, consciousness. I like to talk about it because it’s so confusing and challenging to put into simplicity or find truth. I like what the Dalai Lama said “Kindness is my religion.”To practice empathy, to try to find stillness and peace.
11: Why do you think the dolphin turned into a cat?
JB: Because the witch said that was that! That’s just a fun lyric. That song [“Dolphin Turned Into A Cat”] turned out really well, especially with the string arrangements.
11: How excited are you to tour?
JB: This is my third or fourth tour, but only my second as a solo artist. I’m very excited. It’s totally what I want to do and how I want to make a living. I want to build this thing and do it, we are beginning to break out nationally. We have been doing this thing DIY, my bass player and me booked the tour ourselves without a booker. This is what I have always wanted to do with my life. Meet new people, stay open, sing, and open portals of positive energy. »
– Brandy Crowe
Jackson Boone celebrates his latest release live September 9 at Mississippi Studios