Jackson Scott is a 20-year-old soloist born in St. Paul, raised in Pittsburgh and currently based in North Carolina. He started playing piano at age 8, followed by drums and guitar in his teenage years. Though he’d always set his sights on being a movie director, disillusionment with the film industry — before even reaching drinking age, no less — sent Scott deeper into music, a passion that persisted throughout his freshman year at UNC Asheville.
“I never really had the intention of taking college too seriously,” Scott said in an interview ahead of his show Monday at the 7th Street Entry.
“Melbourne,” named after the street Scott currently calls home, came out shortly after he dropped out. Released on Fat Possum records in July, the debut album is a strange and somber mix of almost inaudible lyrics and hazy instrumentation. Dubbed “creepy” in a Pitchfork review, Scott’s tunes explore morbid topics such as the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
“I’ve had realizations in the last couple years about the duality of a lot of things,” said the new media and digital design student turned full-time musician. “Beautiful and happy and joyful things can only really exist if there are nightmare, bad, awful stuff, too.”
But lyrics aren’t Scott’s main focus: Melody is. “Whenever I’m writing, I usually focus on the musical aspect first and foremost,” he said, citing a nostalgia for ’90s alt-rock.
Scott is also nostalgic for the pre-Instagram era, as evidenced by snapshots of himself — all untouched and often unglamorous.
“I’ve been really obsessed with everything analog recently,” he said. “My friends were into 35mm disposable camera photography and I started noticing [that] the difference between a cassette and a really well recorded digital sound is the same as the difference between a disposable-camera photo and a high-def digital photo.”
Scott said he prefers the “cool aura” of printed film, just as he prefers the rougher sound of four-track audiotapes.
Don’t expect to see him posting many of his artistic endeavors — analog or otherwise — on social media.
He’s averse to Twitter and admitted he enjoyed a recent reprieve from Facebook after he was hacked out of his account.
“I can’t just totally dismiss it,” Scott said of the necessary evils of the Internet. “It’s definitely helpful for getting people to hear about stuff, but personally I think people can get oversaturated with it. I know I can.”
For such a young musician, Scott seems to have his priorities straight.
“Maybe some people are kind of bewildered that it’s all happening to me when I’m really young,” he said of his sudden popularity. “At the end of the day, it’s [about] whether or not you’re happy with the music you’re making and happy with the shows you’re playing.”
With: Prissy Clerks.
When: 8:30 p.m. Mon.
Where: 7th Street Entry.