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Max Jackson shares a few of her favourite things

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Max Jackson will make her debut as the Official Ambassador of the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth, this month.

The talented Newcastle-based artist, that has been nominated for two Golden Guitars for Best New Talent and Female Artist of the Year, is successfully bringing country music into the mainstream, and all with a smile on her face. 

  1. You moved to Newcastle aged 12, tough age to resettle, what was that experience like? Can you recall your first impressions of the city?  

When we moved from Coonamble to Newcastle it was a massive shift in our lives. We left behind a little country town where we knew everybody, and everybody knew us, and we felt safe and comfortable in our lives. My parents moved so that my sister and I could have more opportunities. I just remember coming here and thinking that it was very big. There were no traffic lights in Coonamble, there was only one roundabout, and when we moved to Newcastle my sister and I had to cross the road at the traffic lights to go to school. That was one of my earliest memories – crossing at the traffic lights. I thought it was amazing. 

  1. You’ve been performing from a very young age. 

The very first time I ever went on stage was when I was about four. I was a child just wanting to do things all the time. I was four and I was begging my mum to let me go to school. I had this book of fairy poems and I used to perform them for my family so mum enrolled me in elocution lessons. I couldn’t read yet, but mum read these poems to me all the time, so I’d memorised them.  

It’s a connection thing for me, when you do something and you can see a reaction in somebody else that they enjoy it, or they feel connected to what it is that you’re saying or doing, that’s what I really like. I’m a people pleaser and I like going on stage because it’s something that makes people happy, it lights up a room. 

Max Jackson will make her debut as the Official Ambassador of the Toyota Country Music Festival. Photo: Peter Stoop © Newcastle Weekly 
  1. Why country? 

My mum and dad were massive music fans. Being out in Coonamble there weren’t a lot of artists coming all the time, but country artists like Gina Jeffries and Becky Cole and Lee Kernigan would include Coonamble in their tours and my parents would take me to the shows.  

The cool thing country artists do really well is stories, and I really liked that, but they also hang around after the show and do meet and greets and I got obsessed with wanting to meet the singers after the show. That’s where my passion for country music came from.  

I actually thought that country music was the only type of music that existed. The music we were listening to at home was the CDs we bought at shows which was all country music I loved, like the Dixie Chicks and Dolly Parton.  

I remember when we moved to Newcastle and my new friends at school were listening to music like the Spice Girls and I was like, “what is this music I’ve never heard before?”

  1. Is country music gaining followers? 

Country music is absolutely booming in Australia at the moment. It’s incredible to see.  

When I was growing up and particularly when we moved here, a lot of my friends had never listened to country music. It was considered daggy and uncool. I’d play the music that I liked to friends, and they were like, “oh, this sounds different to what I imagined country music would sound”.  

I think the stereotype of country music has changed. Country music is really coming into the mainstream. Now country music festivals and concerts are selling out within minutes.  

I think it’s because a lot of people who didn’t grow up with country music are discovering how connected it is, and how real and down to earth it is. It’s a very welcoming community, it’s all about going to the festivals with your friends, doing things like camping (which is included in your ticket), and enjoying the music together. I think people really like that, particularly in Australian culture. I mean, I have always felt like country music is a really important part of Australian culture, but that’s because it’s been an important part of my life.  

  1. Where does your songwriting inspiration come from?  

I would say I’m a super observant person, so it’s either from my own experience, my family, love stories of being from the country, or stories about country people. The songs come from observing other people. Sometimes I write songs as if they sound like they’re from my perspective, but it’s really from the perspective of one of my friends, something that they’ve told me, or things that I find interesting. I’m always grabbing my phone and writing things down in my notes, like little phrases that I hear people say and things like. I’ll jot them down and think, ‘oh, that would be a really cool idea for a song.’ There are like 2000 notes in my phone at the moment, and the voice memo section is even bigger.  

tamworth music festival
Max Jackson. Photo: Peter Stoop © Newcastle Weekly 
  1. Writing songs, live performances, YouTube videos – what’s your favourite?  

I would say touring is absolutely my favorite element. I love going to new places and meeting people who love music as much as me. I really like winning over a crowd, that’s always been a challenge for me. I have been having fun with social media lately. My latest song is called Little More Country and I’ve been making these versions of songs where I take pop and rock and popular iconic songs and make them a little more country. It started out as a little fun and now people are passionate about their favorite songs and commenting requesting songs. Last month I think I had something like five million views.  

I like it because it uses my songwriting brain. I’m looking at the lyrics and thinking “if that were reimagined and I was writing this song right now as a country song, how would it be, how would it sound to me?”  

  1. Tell us your five favourite things. My husband, my family, breakfast, clothes (denim/vintage) and popcorn. 
  1. Complete this sentence “Something not many people know about me is … 

One of the things that makes me really happy in day-to-day life is when my washing is drying in the sun. I get the biggest kick and the most excitement if I’ve just done a load of washing and the sun comes out and it can dry quickly.  

  1. How has your style changed over the years? 

I’ve experimented with lots of different things over the years. I released an album in 2020 called Life of The Party and it was much more focused on the songwriting side of things. The more that I’ve been playing live, and the more that I’m touring, and things get bigger, I focus a little more on the energy of a song, the way that it might make people feel in a room or the way that my set is going to have highs and lows and things like that. I think a lot more about the live performance side of it and taking people on a journey through the music. 

  1. Complete this sentence “You should get to the Tamworth Country Music Festival because…. 

Because I’m going to be there, and I really want to see you there, but mostly because the Tamworth Country Music Festival is an incredibly unique music experience that I think every music lover across Australia really needs to experience. It’s unlike anything else and people are going to love it. I can’t even put into words how special the festival is. Get your accommodation and be there. 

tamworth music festival
Max Jackson. Photo: Peter Stoop © Newcastle Weekly 
  1. Where do you see yourself in ten years?  

Just doing what I’m doing right now, which is making music that I love and playing it to people who love music as much as me. I also want to travel as much as I possibly can. I want to take my music overseas and showcase Australian country music on the world stage.  

  1. What is the best compliment someone could pay you?  

I would say the best compliment would be that someone felt that a song was written about them. That’s really cool. I’ve written my story, but in turn, there’s always going to be so many people out there who are going through something similar or they’re interpreting it in a way that helps them through it. I’d say that’s my biggest compliment. 

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