As Big Wild, producer Jackson Stell crafts lush soundscapes and sweeping melodies that challenge the status quo of electronic music. First breaking out in 2015, Big Wild has become one of the fastest-rising electronic artists in recent years – touring and working with the likes of Odesza.
We caught up with Big Wild after The Great Escape to dig a little deeper on his debut album and find out where he’s headed next.
How was your experience at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton?
It was lovely! A bit of whirlwind with so many different acts but it was a pleasure to see a bunch of new bands live and learn more about Europe’s music scene.
What made you choose the name ‘Big Wild’?
The name is about being adventurous, staying curious, and not being afraid to be yourself. It reflects both the period of my life when I was going 100% into music for a living, as well as the ethos I base music on.
Talk to us about your life-altering trip to Big Sur, California…
California was somewhere I had wanted to visit for a very long time at that point and my girlfriend (now fiancé) was from the Bay Area. She invited me to visit for two weeks and the first thing we did was camp at Big Sur. The natural landscape of the area, the mountains diving into the ocean, the sun, the hot springs, the massive trees, etc. – there was so much beauty and it was so bold. The entire experience affected my core. Shortly after that trip I came up with the name ‘Big Wild’ and began my current journey.
What feelings do you want people to take away from your new album ‘Superdream’? – and what would you say is the running theme?
‘Superdream’ covers a variety of topics that are all rooted in my own personal experiences: existentialism, falling in love, and moving across country are some of the themes I sing about. The album is largely a reflection of moments in my life & it was ultimately inspired by a need to create music that was a greater reflection of who I am now, which led me to feature my voice as the main focus for the first time. I wanted to create a personal record & an entire body of work that people could relate to, using my own life experiences.
How did the collaboration with Rationale come about? – and how was it working together on 6’s to 9’s?
I’ve wanted to work with Rationale for a long time- it’s really cool to see this track come to life. I sent him over the initial instrumental & hook idea, he came back with the vocals, and I put the last touches on it. It’s one of my favourites on the album.
What inspired Purple Sand (My Home)?
About five and a half years ago, I visited California for the first time. I felt so inspired by the landscape and natural beauty. It felt like home. It felt special. It felt like a new chapter. Several months after that trip, I followed my partner & moved to California from Massachusetts and made one of my biggest leaps of faith in terms of starting new and pursuing my music full time. This song is about the rush and high of that period of my life. While I no longer live in California, it will always hold a special place in my heart.
You released early EPs on Foreign Family and are supporting Odesza this summer. Would you say they have helped to influence your sound?
Their support from the beginning was invaluable; it gave me confidence in myself, my music, and the creative direction I was going towards early on. Releasing ‘Superdream’ on Counter Records has proved the next chapter in my sound, but I can’t thank them all enough for their continued encouragement, and I’m really honoured to be supporting ODESZA on their ‘A Moment Apart’ finale shows in LA this summer. Those are going to be special.
What is one of the weirdest dreams you’ve ever had?
I’ve had inception style dreams when I woke up and thought I was in reality and then woke up again. It’s such a terrifying experience cause you are doubting reality completely.
If you could throw a festival anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Somewhere in Oregon. I currently live here and there is so much potential for a kickass outdoor festival.
Was it always your dream to be an artist? – When did you first start singing?
I began producing when I was 13 and within a year I knew I wanted to make a career out of it. I didn’t start singing until a year and a half ago. Diving into singing though was a natural progression as I was reaching a point where I couldn’t fully express myself with production alone.
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Tame Impala – ‘Currents’. Great production and songwriting. I get excited every time I listen to it.
Any new up and coming artists we should be checking out?
Channel Tres and Louis Cole are two artists that come to mind. They’re both very different but have something special going on.
What’s next for Big Wild?
I’m working on stuff for the shows for this summer and fall, especially Red Rocks in September. Very exciting! Also, I’m diving into new music when I can. I’ve been feeling very inspired lately.