Fox Jackson

📷 : LPR Agency

Having set up a Kickstarter for his latest single, Fox Jackson released Like You In Every Way in June, which he wrote alongside producer Nick Burns, and he is currently editing his music video for the track. Fox released his debut single Behind Closed Doors last year, and he is continuously working on new songs and is in the process of selecting his next release. Tomorrow, 24th July, Fox will be performing a gig at Kaleidoscope Festival at Alexandra Palace and in September, he will be playing his own show in Camden. As a young actor, Fox played Billy in the West End production of Billy Elliot the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre, where he holds the record for the most performances of a Billy Elliot in London, and on screen he played regular character Mobbsy in CITV series My Phone Genie. Chatting with Fox, he talks about his latest single Like You In Every Way, his upcoming shows and playing Billy in Billy Elliot the Musical.

Can you tell us about your latest single Like You In Every Way?

When I was writing this I wanted the message to my partner to be that they could believe in me. I wanted something that said more than just “I love you”. My partner was having doubts at the time as to whether or not we would work or be good together. I wanted something that would blow all those cobwebs away, Like You In Every Way is about allowing yourself to trust another, regardless of the doubts. There is nothing so deadly to a fresh relationship as too many questions, sometimes you just have to let go of those fears and trust that you want to be together.

How was it writing alongside producer Nick Burns and how did the song come about?

Working with Nick has always been a pleasure and a joy. I’m pretty sure by now people know that I am part of the Nick Burns fan club. We always spark really well together in the studio and when we are working on a new song it’s electric. When I took LYIEW (Like You In Every Way) to Nick, he instantly picked up the bass and started to jam the song with me. This is normally how it goes when I show him a new one. If you picture a person with no clothes, THAT’s the song before I take it to Nick. Then we dress the the song up and add a few bits of style and flare to keep it sexy and original. Maybe put a fedora on them, the perfect finishing touch.

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You set up a Kickstarter for the release, how was it seeing the response to it?

It was amazing to see how many people were ready to back the campaign and help me push my next single as far as it could go. Without them I would not be talking to you now. They allowed me to re-focus on my music after a hard year of pandemic and solitude, for that I can only be eternally grateful. The thing I’m most excited about is that funding let me dream big with the music video, which I’m currently in the process of editing. It’s all been shot on green screen which was really fun as I hadn’t done anything like that before. We are trying to go for that 70s style of cheesy but slick at the same time, think Michael Jackson’s video for Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough. I am so thrilled to get this video out for all to see! The Kickstarter gave me such hope and joy to see just how many people wanted to bet on this fine stallion of a racehorse to win. If any of the Kickstart backers are reading this, I love you! 😉

How did you find the experience of releasing your debut single Behind Closed Doors?

It was such a great learning experience and ultimately a great success. It taught me a lot in terms of if you love something you have to set it free. I remember calling Nick the night before the release and worrying if the drums were not right and we should go for something more pop and less lo-fi like we had previously discussed. There was a back and forth of if we should go back to mix ten of the twenty we did. This is known as “cold feet”. I was freaking out as my first child was going to make their way onto centre stage and I didn’t know if I was ready for that. But as every parent will tell you, you have to stand back and let them fly. Then, of course, after the song came out and did so well for a first single I wondered why I was even scared in the first place. The song just hit over 150k plays on Spotify alone and is still climbing. My baby is all grown up and Nick and I could not be more proud of our first born.

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What was it like filming the music video for the release?

It was great, I loved bringing some of the skills I picked up over the years from acting to my music. I think it helped tell the story of Behind Closed Doors through the camera, that felt really special.

I wrote the storyline with Nick, he’s always my right hand man. Then we got the skilled James Polley to shoot and edit the video. Then the last thing I had to find was the love interest to really portray the story. So, I called my talented friend Grace Morrison to be the star of the show. The whole thing was shot in my front room pretty much. It’s great what you can do with a few lights, a projector and a smoke machine. We shot it and did the edit in just over a week. There was no messing around, we made sure when we wrote it that it could be an easy shoot and a fast turn around. I love having a visual world where the song can live in. I have always loved music videos, sometimes if it’s a really good one it makes me like the song even more than I already did.

What encouraged you to start releasing music and how has it been doing so during the pandemic?

Behind Closed Doors is about the feeling of being shut out in a relationship. We’re all looking to further our connection with our significant others and I think at the time I was going out with someone that felt like they couldn’t communicate with me, that pushed me to write the song. Communication is always the most important part of any relationship, the moment that goes is when things start to get a little bit dicey. I suppose at the heart of it the song is just imploring the other person to let them really know what’s going on. We also felt like Behind Closed Doors was the perfect time to release as it was in the midst of a pandemic when everyone was at home and feeling isolated. That’s what the song is about, the feeling of being left out. It’s what I was going through when I wrote the song and it’s why I wanted to release music during a pandemic as we all could relate to it.

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We understand you’ll be releasing new music soon, is there anything you can say about it?

Yeah, that’s correct. You must have tapped my phones or something… I’m impressed how you know so much 😉. Nick and I are always working on the next track. We have lots of songs recorded and we fine comb the ones we think will be the strongest to put out next. At the moment, there are two songs in competition with each other. All Nick and I have to do is figure out what will work the best for my next single, but if I had to guess my money would be on a song called This Other Girl. It’s really different from my first two songs which are about trying to get your significant other to trust you. This Other Girl is about me breaking that trust. That’s all you’re getting for now! No more spying!

What do you enjoy most about being a singer-songwriter?

The freedom to just create and to have complete creative control.

When I first started to pick up the guitar to write songs, I was not thinking about how far it could go, I just did it because I loved it and it made my heart go Boom Boom shake the room. To create something out of nothing is truly magical and I still get that feeling today. It has been great to see how much my music and writing has changed and got better over the years. I know you have heard this a hundred times but practice really is everything.

I also love that I didn’t have to wait around for anyone. When I wanted to write, I did. As an actor, unless you are writing and producing your own stuff, you kind of have to wait for someone to give you a chance. With my music I get to make my own chances.

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You’ve previously performed as the lead role of Billy Elliot in the West End production of Billy Elliot the Musical, what was this like to do?

Well, that’s where it all started for me really. It taught me so much from such a young age. I was only 12 when I did my first performance. Then I played the role for two years and still hold the record for the most shows out of any London Billy Elliot.

The training process for the show is second to none, to even get to the standard of being able to do the show is a huge ask. When you get through the first round of auditions, they start the training right away – ballet, tap and gymnastics. Lucky for me, gymnastics was one of my strong points, I had won a few competitions in my age group for London and came fourth in the UK finals. There was no expense spared for training each Billy for the show. We have all gone on to do amazing things, the pedigree for the show is like nothing else I have ever known. To play the role was a joy! The highs I would get from doing the last number was breathtaking. It’s a feeling I will never forget. Performing on stage every night was a gift and you better believe I bring all of that knowledge into my own life playing as a musician.

Do you have any stand-out highlights from your time in the cast and performing on stage?

I have loads of great moments from my time on stage, but the one that stands out is performing the show with buddy Tom Holland, another Billy at the time who covered the role of Michael (Billy’s best friend).

Tom and I would get up to all sorts of mischief off stage. I remember one time trying to break the beds of the boarding house we lived in by jumping from the top bunks, we thought it would be smart to document it just in case we succeeded. We filmed it and got caught the next day, dumb stuff only kids would do.

When it came to doing a run of a show, it was hard to take it seriously. We tried to make each other laugh as much as we could, which is always a dangerous thing to do in live theatre. We changed some lines and even hid sweets around the set.

It was fun. We were kids playing around and doing what we loved most, trying to mess with each other. After the show, I remember the director scolding us… but it was worth it. Tom and I did not bat an eyelid. It would not be the last time we messed around on stage.

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You have screen experience including as Mobbsy in My Phone Genie, what do you remember most from your time playing the role and being on set?

WOW! You are taking me back, this was filmed in Ireland when I was 16. It was great to get some proper camera experience and it was a good show to be a part of. I think it was my first time being away from home for more than a few months so I enjoyed that and changing into the person I wanted to be.

It was crazy how fast we would have to get everything done. It was shot for six months and it was only one season with 26 episodes, which is a heck of a lot for a new kids’ TV show. One thing I do remember is that the last episode we shot was centred around Mobbsy, my character. It’s really funny, it was about a girlfriend app that you could download and talk to, but then she becomes obsessed with me and it gets a bit intense. Years later, the movie Her with Joaquin Phoenix would steal the idea from the TV show… just joking, but it’s strange how similar the premise was.

I just had a thought, I bought one of my first guitars out there and it’s where I started playing from scratch. So, in a way, My Phone Genie is why I became a musician, so thanks, ITV. Could not have done it without you.

Where does your love of acting, dance and music come from and how did you start?

Well, that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it! I think it’s a mix of everything I have been through in my life. I know I got my love for music from my dad, there was always classics playing in the house when we were growing up, the favourites being MJ, Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang! We used to wake up early on Saturday to listen to new music and have breakfast while we danced around. Music was a heavy part of my childhood. My love for dance came from watching MTV, I was CRAZY about music videos, I loved watching dance moves and copying them. The one that sparked it all off was Justin Timberlake’s Like I Love You. There is a break beat section at the end where Pharrell is going hard on the drums and Chad Hugo is playing some sexy synth lines. In the video, JT and Pharrell are body popping. I would spend hours watching and rewinding it just so I could pick up all the moves.

I think my brother Ted inspired me to start acting. Older brothers normally clear the way for the young ones. He was really good at it and was in a show at the Donmar with Sir Derek Jacobi. I think, as a kid, when you see someone do something, you don’t question how hard it’s going to be, you just see it and know it’s possible. Ted made me feel that way about acting.

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Do you have any favourite musicians to listen to?

EEEERRRRRR you sure you want to get me started on this question? Because once I start there is no stopping. To name a few, Anderson Paak, Tom Misch and Pharrell. But my biggest inspiration is the man, the myth, the legend, Prince! I listen to him pretty much every day, I don’t think there will ever be another Prince in my lifetime. In terms of his sound, style and live shows, there is no one like him. The fact that he had 39 studio albums and they are still going through the vault to find more music. He never stopped, a true creative force of nature.

My favourite Prince album has to be Sign O’ The Times. I think it really solidified him as an artist. People stopped thinking that he was “just” an artist from the 80s. He was always so much more than that. I can listen to that album from start to finish all the dang time! The best tracks on the album are If I Was Your Girlfriend and Adore. Two beautifully written love songs. The first being about wanting to be closer than just Boyfriend and Girlfriend, he asks the question in the song – “If I was your best friend, would you let me, take care of you and do all the things that only a best friend can?”. I think Prince wishes that he could do everything she ever needs.

Adore is just one of the best love songs ever written, I will let the lyrics do the talking:

“Until the end of time’
I’ll be there for you
You own my heart and mind
I truly adore you
If God one day struck me blind
Your beauty I’ll still see
Love is too weak to define
Just what you mean to me”

Sometimes in songwriting, the simple choice is often the strongest. Just say what you feel. Prince was a true master of that.

One last thing which I found out the other day which blew my tiny lil mind, I was watching an interview with Pharrell and he spoke about how he wrote the song Frontin’ for Prince! It’s so obvious when you hear the song. It’s like his version of Kiss. It’s funny to me how many artists are inspired by him and how he is always the root of it all. Feels like everything leads back to Prince.

Apart from your upcoming release, what music/performing plans do you have coming up?

I have a few gigs coming up, I have one at the end of this week at Kaleidescope, it’s in Ally Pally, so I’m looking forward to that. It will be the first time I play my own music at a proper gig since COVID started.

The one I’m looking forward to most is on the 21st of September at the Music Room in Camden. As I will be headlining that. I will be posting about it on all my socials so stay tuned! But yes! The gigs are coming in thick and fast now!

For my music plans, just keep making dope shiz, ya feel me. It’s straight on to the next one for me and my team, I’m excited to keep the ball rolling and see what the next release will be like when it’s all finished.

Right, that’s about it from me! Thanks for the questions! I hope to speak to you all soon!

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