There are a few places in the world which have a natural beauty so undeniable that they quite literally take your breath away. The rugged coastline of Big Sur California is one of those places, and anyone who visits there is likely to have a transformational experience. No one more so, however, than producer Jackson Stell.
Hailing from Massachusetts, Stell started his career producing hip hop tracks for up and coming rappers. But no matter how many tracks he produced under that project, you probably haven't heard of J-Beatz. Then, in 2012, Stell took a fateful trip to California. Inspired by the sweeping wild beauty of the place, Stell renamed himself "Big Wild," cultivated a stunning, elated sound, and hasn't looked back since. "To me," said Stell, "California really represents a fresh start. "
Big Wild's raw talent quickly caught the eye of duo Odesza, who helped launch him into the spotlight. After he produced an official remix of their hit "Say My Name" he stepped out from behind his computer to put on live performances- and he positively blossomed.
"When I first started [performing] it was more of a focus on making things sound really perfect, which is such a producer's mindset, he told Baeble. "And I still do it, but now it's more about who I am as a person." With a show that features him singing and playing a huge range of instruments, including the unique ‘cajon'(see below), it's clear Big Wild knows how to put on a show.
"You have to perform," he reflects. "There's a lot more to a concert than just music."
Big Wild has had an extraordinary journey so far, but he is determined to push towards something newer, something more exciting, and something that's an even closer reflection of who he is. This takes shape in his upcoming studio album Superdream
. "The goal was to make music that sounds like me," he said.
Stell put a heavy emphasis on the vocals of this album, and you can hear his own voice on many off the tracks. (So yeah, the album literally
sounds like him too). The production often fell into place around the lyrics, and allowed Stell's artistic process to transform and branch out. "Not every song on the album comes down to a drop or something," says Stell. "There's a wide range of things on the album, because I didn't want to just cover one particular subject, I wanted to cover multiple aspects of life."
That might be why Stell gave Baeble a word of caution: "The singles don't give a full idea of what the full project is." And how could they? The three released songs (Heaven, Maker, and Joypunks) are unique and beautiful in their own way, but as of now, how they connect remains elusive. "I'm really excited about the project as a whole," says Stell. "As a body of work, they all make sense together."
For now, we'll have to make do with the singles. First, there's Joypunks
was one that I've been playing live for 6-7 months," said Stell. "It was always a crowd favorite- It's not meant to be over thought." It's an endlessly cheerful tune that's there to lift your mood. To Stell, it represents his musical past, so when he released it, he also wanted to balance it with something that showed where he was going.
That was Maker, which heavily features Stell's soaring voice. "Maker reflected on this period a few years ago when I was having some medical issues," Stell said. But through the struggles, Stell fights to stay positive, which comes through in the bright and upbeat song. "The take away from that was learning to take away more from life."
See, even in Big Wild's push to explore new facets of the human experience, he stays true to himself. The endlessly euphoric feeling we love in his songs isn't going anywhere. "I love making that kind of music, I love having that feeling in my music," Stell says.
"All I know is when I make music like that, it feels right."
Be sure to catch Superdream, dropping Feb. 1st, and check if Big Wild is coming to a city near you here.