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October 2021
Feature

jxdn: "Punk's about being able to be who you want to be"

jxdn cements himself as a forerunner in the pop-punk revival with his debut album ‘Tell Me About Tomorrow’, out via Travis Barker’s DTA Records.
Published: 11:55 am, July 20, 2021Words: Steven Loftin. Photos: Cynthia Parkhurst.
jxdn: "Punk's about being able to be who you want to be"

"I am who I was born to be, and I was born to be a rock star."

Everyone, meet jxdn.

Thanks to a cataclysmic clashing of circumstance, epiphany, luck, and talent, the LA-by-way-of-Tennessee-via-Texas star is set to break a lot of hearts and save a lot of lives. Armed with his debut album 'Tell Me About Tomorrow', jxdn's toting music packed with addictively saccharine doses of saw-tooth edged pop-punk, dripping in occasional trip-hop beats and an honest depiction of life's strife.

Already having built up a fevered TikTok fanbase, jxdn's debut singles, 'Angels & Demons' in particular, are stacking up some serious, sky-scraping numbers. Mentioning that he's now at a cool hundred-million streams on Spotify ("that's like 1/3 of America"), this burgeoning young rock star is learning to understand the importance of staying humble, and soaking in these moments. "It makes you appreciate where you're at and appreciate where you're going," he starts. "Looking back, there are definitely things I wish I would have appreciated more because it's so different when you're inside of it, things happen so fast."

Before all that, however, Jaden Hossler had to exist. Growing up in the midwest of America, surrounded by church-going folk and a far more timid way of living, his first introduction to music came in the form of yer standard fare pop and classic rock. It wasn't until Jaden began making his way through high school, and the depressive struggles started to surface, that he discovered the likes of JuiceWRLD. It was at one of the late rapper's gigs, in fact, where the epiphany struck Jaden that music is more than just background noise. It can be a life-saving gospel. One that jxdn can be a part of.

It's impossible to skim over one of the key players in jxdn's dream becoming a reality - one Travis Barker - y'know, blink-182 drumming legend, and a feature on more songs than you can shake a stick at. Taking jxdn under his wing after hearing 'Comatose', Travis swiftly signed him up to his fresh-from-the-packet record label DTA (Don't Trust Anyone) and set to work on making jxdn's next chapter a big one. A voicemail sample of Travis exclaiming to someone that he's the future even opens 'Tell Me About Tomorrow'.

Yet even at this point, jxdn's musical exposure was limited. Unlike most teenagers, his time wasn't spent idolising rockstars or pop artists (bar an ardent viewing of Justin Bieber's Never Say Never doc). His first foray into his new mentor's world came from blink-182's 'Darkside': "I was like this is hard. This is tough; I love this. Even when I signed with Travis, I wasn't listening to punk music."

"I did like five minutes of cardio with Travis Barker, and I swear I almost died"
jxdn

Making up for lost time, jxdn is soaking in all the music he can with the voracious energy of a teenager scrounging through his older brother's records. Citing the likes of punk icons the Descendents ("This band is literally fucking amazing"), glam rockers Mötley Crüe ("They're probably one of my favourite bands of all time"), and of course JuiceWRLD ("He really changed my life in a lot of ways he was probably the closest thing I had to a punk artist"), jxdn's exposure to these elements is what continues to influence his modern take on a beloved genre. Along with feeding more personally into his ability to, quite simply, not give a fuck.

With all these ingredients slotting into place, jxdn's grown into an entirely different person. Even compared to last year. On Zoom with Upset, looking a bit like a punk rock Bieber - flattened mid-length dyed blonde hair, black tank top, fresh tattoos ("One day when I'm covered, everybody will be like 'Well, he did say he was gonna end up like Travis!'") and a lightly placed green cap - he's as fresh-faced as ever, yet understandably well adjusted to his new standing in the world.

"Whether it's in front of five or 50 million, it doesn't matter to me. I was born this way, so I can't wait to live this way for the rest of my life," he exclaims. For someone who's undeniably invested in his rock star manifestation, jxdn is also supremely humble.

It's hard not to be when your scrappy, teeth-cutting years fell during a period of severe inactivity for the world. Certainly, the adoring fans that have amassed into titanic numbers across his social media platforms are indeed tangible to a degree, but music is about a sweaty throng where people, much like jxdn previously, can have those moments of clarity. "It was so powerful for me I'm hoping that I can give the same type of energy or the same type of outcome for somebody else," he notes.

On his way to orchestrating those moments, jxdn's continued exploring of his new rock star realm is rooted in being grateful, a lesson learned from his mentor. "He understands that nothing's given to you," jxdn explains. "Opportunities are given, but they also have to be met - he never stops. Never!"

"He's 40 something, and he's basically the healthiest fuckin' grandpa!" He laughs, the ripping sound of a recording contract looming in the background. "I did like five minutes of cardio with him, and I swear I almost died. I was like passing out, and he's just going crazy!"

jxdn: "Punk's about being able to be who you want to be"

Fitness regime aside, jxdn is also a perfectionist. But the whirlwind of going from having a single to a record deal and now to an album has been all about jxdn learning to understand this whole music lark is a marathon, not a sprint.

"I will say that there's a lot of things that I'm not good at," he smiles. "This album has taught me to slow down and admit where I need to work on things, [and] get better at them, so I wasn't always a perfectionist. I don't know if this relates, but I'm pretty kind of messy; I'll be straight up," he says holding his hands up laughing. "Not like dirty, but I'm messy for sure. But when it comes down to things that I'm creating, I absolutely need them to be the best they can be, and I need to trust other people that they'll tell me the truth, you know?"

Travis' touch is littered throughout 'Tell Me About Tomorrow'. Under his crown as the godfather of the new pop-punk movement, his first endeavour into manning an entire project with his prodigy is sparkling with the same melodious trademark of his day job. For example, 'A Wasted Year' has echoes of blink's 'Feeling This' in its chorus, but these touchstones serve a greater purpose; to make jxdn's dream a reality.

Case and point, few artists get to play their very first show at a weed convention in Las Vegas. But few artists are JXDN. Recalling performing five songs at the city's extravagant Mandalay Bay resort, "A bunch of things went wrong, but it felt perfect, dude! It just felt so natural. I've never felt that way in my entire life; I could talk about it forever." It's this enamoured feeling that's helped jxdn push 'Tell Me About Tomorrow' even further, supercharging his dedication to its cause, simply "because I got to feel the energy from people, it just got me so excited."

"This album has taught me to slow down and admit where I need to work on things"
jxdn

Jaden's evolution into jxdn seems almost complete. Leaning truly into being that rockstar he was born to be, he notes that it's all based around one simple ethos of "100% literally just doing things like… just do it."

This isn't jxdn searching for a Nike sponsorship, it's his newfound truth, and the strength to live it. Especially after having fallen into a whirlwind, transporting him Wizard of Oz-style from that church surrounding to the City of Angels. Though he admits, there's still a stigma around being your true self. "People really need to understand that that's what all punk is about. Just being able to be who you want to be."

He's certainly found himself in the right circles to embrace himself. He's now busy living that mythological rockstar life, right down to popping up for a guest spot during his new friend and collaborator Machine Gun Kelly's recent rooftop performance in Venice Beach, California; Travis Barker in tow, along with their respective partners (Megan Fox and Kourtney Kardashian). Not bad for someone who was still living at home in Tennessee a few years earlier.

When jxdn eventually gets to hit the road properly, his first big engagement supporting Machine Gun Kelly, the manifestation will become complete. "I know that I'm going to live up to the expectation, and hopefully more, because this is what I'm made to do, man," he enthuses one last time.

"I really know I am, and there's nothing behind it; there's no ill intent or anything. I just want people to have a moment like I had, and I know it's gonna happen for a lot of 'em!" 

Taken from the August issue of Upset. JXDN's debut album 'Tell Me About Tomorrow' is out now.

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