ARTIST NAME: Seth Hilary Jackson
SONG TITLE: If Love Had A Butt
ALBUM TITLE: This One’s For You
GENRE: Adult Alternative
State your history.
I wrote my first song in 1983 while I was an MBA student at the Wharton School.
The second song I ever wrote received airplay on a major Boston area radio station and was favorably reviewed in The Beat Magazine covering the local Boston music scene.
I thought the music business was going to be a snap! A few years later, I moved from Massachusetts to Los Angeles to study songwriting at the Grove School of Music.
Eventually, I decided that my best bet would be writing songs for licensing to other artists and for film and TV projects.
I started out targeting the country music market and later expanded into pop/dance/R&B.
For about 2 decades, I made the commute from my home in Los Angeles to Nashville, TN to co-write with Nashville writers and to pitch songs to the industry.
For many years, I served as the Los Angeles Regional Coordinator for the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), the world’s largest songwriter trade organization.
I signed several deals with small publishers and had some near-misses on major publishing deals. I had many song placements with independent artists and I had songs on hold with major labels for major artists, but the big break has so far eluded me.
In 2017, I recorded and released my debut album as an artist, “This One’s For You”. The album has received critical acclaim.
Describe yourself as an artist.
As an artist, I write whatever moves me at the moment. I like writing both light-hearted, fun songs and songs that are deeply emotional. I give myself the freedom to write in any musical style that suits the song.
Tell us the genre of your music.
I write and sing an eclectic variety of music from country to alternative rock. If I am forced to classify myself into a genre, the closest would be Adult Alternative.
Tell us the story behind your song.
“If Love Had a Butt” was co-written with Nashville writer and producer Chip Martin. Chip has been a regular co-writer over many years.
In Nashville, it’s typical to write songs starting from a title. This title was Chip’s idea and he pitched it to me because he knows I enjoy writing silly songs. Of course, I loved the idea.
We wrote it in one 3-hour writing session. When I got home later, I noticed some things that could be improved, so I did a rewrite and sent it to Chip, who then recorded it.
Tell us the problems you are facing as an artist.
When pitching myself as an artist, the first question they always ask is “What is your genre?” Or sometimes they ask, “What artists do you sound like?” These are hard questions for me to answer because I don’t fit neatly into a genre, and I don’t sound like any other popular artist.
Another issue is finding gigs. Every venue wants me to guarantee that I’ll draw a certain number of people. As a new artist, I’ve yet to build enough of a following to guarantee the numbers they’re looking for.
And, of course, money – Recording studios and musicians are expensive. Promotion can also be very expensive.
Discuss the recording and production of the song.
My first album was produced and recorded by Los Angeles musician and songwriter Kevin Fisher.
Kevin is one of the greatest songwriters I’ve ever been exposed to. He’s also a talented producer who I felt would be perfect to capture my sound.
I recorded all my vocals and some of the guitar parts at home and sent Kevin the recordings. He came up with the arrangements on the spot in collaboration with me in the studio.
I’ve been recording my new material at home. It’s a challenge because I don’t play lead guitar, bass, or keyboards, but so far, I’ve managed to find a way to come up with stuff I like. The hardest part is mixing. I’ve been studying the mixing process.
List the names of blogs, radio, or television stations that have supported you so far.
I’ve received excellent press from Indie Band Guru, Screaming Match Productions, MusicNotes, Dancing About Architecture, and Oddnuggets.com. I’ve received airplay with Rio Bravo Radio, WFM New York, and Pose Productions internet radio.
Elaborate on your music career, experience, and future goals.
For most of my career, I was a pure songwriter, writing songs for others to record. When I started, the place most open to this was the Nashville, TN country market.
My first love was for rock music, but I did listen to a fair amount of country, so this was a good fit for my talents and interests. Living in Los Angeles, I eventually expanded into pop/dance/R&B.
As time went on, I developed the desire and the confidence to begin recording my own material as an artist. I like the freedom of self-expression I get from this. I’ve been very happy with the reception I’ve received from blogs and radio stations and from audiences at my live performances.
I’m looking to expand my fan base and find new opportunities to get my music out there.
My goal is for my music to make a positive emotional impact with enough people that I can earn a livelihood from it. And there’s always that dream of a Grammy!
Brief us what inspires you to write, compose and sing.
It varies. The best times are when inspiration comes over me in the form of a song idea or even better, a specific emotion or message that I want to express.
Other times, I sit down to write simply because I’ve made a writing appointment with myself or a collaborator. Collaboration is virtually essential when writing songs for the commercial pop or country market. I’ve been doing a lot less of that and a lot more solo writing since I began working as an artist, where my songs are more personal.
I love performing. When I play live, it’s me connecting with an audience in the most direct way possible. It’s the ultimate in musical self-expression.
Brief us the top-secret behind making a hit song.
The overriding factor in writing a hit is to create something that makes listeners feel an emotion. It can be happiness, sadness, or any other feeling that people commonly experience. It has to connect in a way that makes people want to listen to your music again and again. Everything else you can learn about songwriting is a set of tools to help you achieve this.
Tell the advice you will give to an upcoming artist.
Learn as much as you can about the craft of songwriting, performing, and the music business. Don’t ever start to think you know more than the successful professionals in the business.
Discuss at length your music careers, albums, songs, tours, recognition, or awards you might have received.
As I mentioned earlier, I wrote my first song as a Wharton MBA student. It was my final semester, and everyone was caught up in the frenzy of the job search. My heart wasn’t in it, and I created a song satirizing the whole process. Everyone I played it for loved it, which encouraged me to continue writing.
Although I did find a very good corporate job, my heart wasn’t in that, either. What I really cared about was songwriting, so I left the corporate world and the East Coast to study songwriting at the Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, CA.
I wrote hundreds of songs as an “outside writer” looking for song placements with major and independent artists.
I became a student of songwriting craft, learning as much as I could from successful hit songwriters and attending seminars they taught. That work began to pay off, as publishers began making copies of my songs and meeting with me.
I was honored to be told by a well-known executive that I was “la creme de la creme” of Nashville songwriters. I had the good fortune of co-writing songs with several #1 hit songwriters. I chose to put one of those songs, “You’re a Diamond”, on my album.
Dozens of my songs have been placed with independent artists and in Films and TV. Several reached the Top 10 on the European Country Music Association Airplay Charts. My song “Wait’ll I Get My Hands On You” made it to #1.
In 2008, I received a Presidential invitation to the White House because of my song, “Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis”, honoring a war hero who gave his life to save his friends. The song was performed at the US Army reception following the soldier’s posthumous Medal Of Honor ceremony.
This song led to an interview by The Pittsburgh Tribune. The interview was published on the newspaper’s front page.
Earlier in my career, I received an Honourable Mention award in the international Music Bridge competition. The grand prize for that contest was a trip to Europe for a weeklong songwriting camp to co-write with major hit songwriters and recording artists.
I was also a Top Three Finalist in the Songwriter Universe contest. I’ve been featured in American Songwriter Magazine and Recording Magazine.
As a new artist, I’ve been playing out at open mics both for the fun of it and to gain exposure. It’s starting to pay off, and I’ve been invited to showcase at QTX’s Nightclub in Newark, NJ, and at Rubulad in Brooklyn, NY within the past 2 months. I’ve been asked back for another showcase at QXT on June 27.
Tell us how you write your lyrics, compose, sing and record in the studio.
Most of my songs have started by coming up with an unusual or interesting title and going from there. This is typical in Nashville.
Writing for me as an artist has been a little bit different. Most often, I start with a particular emotion or message I want to convey. Figure out the title is my usual next step. I usually write the lyric before the melody, although it’s not unusual for me to come up with melody ideas as I write the words.
The recording is tough. I typically create the rhythm guitar part first. Then, I’ll do the bass. Since I don’t actually play bass or own a bass guitar, I use technology to help me out. I’ll use the guitar to play single notes on the lower strings. Then, I’ll use Melodyne software to convert that part into a MIDI file that I can use to play bass samples. I can also use a MIDI editor to make corrections and improvements to what I originally played.
I do the same thing with keyboard parts, playing chords on the guitar and converting them to MIDI. This usually requires heavy MIDI editing to create movement within the chords and make it sound more like a keyboard player.
I use Addictive Drums or EZdrummer software to create drum tracks, which I can also change with a MIDI editor. Occasionally, I’ll use the MIDI editor to create the entire drum track without using any drum software.
And, of course, there’s the vocal, which takes longer than one might expect. I get obsessive about trying to make it perfect, although I rarely if ever achieve it. The most important thing is to make sure the emotion comes across.
Name your favorite artists for collaboration.
There are several writers in Nashville and Los Angeles that I have collaborated with on an ongoing basis. Most of them are non-performing writers, so their names won’t be familiar. One of them is a very talented independent country writer/artist named Olivia West, who you can find on YouTube.
Share your press release and reviews with us.
Tell us how you will spend a million dollars.
I wouldn’t go crazy. I might sell my New Jersey home and move to an equivalent place in New York City. I’d hire a housecleaner.
I don’t think I’d bother with a new car. I don’t need an ostentatious lifestyle. I might do some traveling. I’d spend the most money on my music, recording, and promoting myself.
I’d give some to my family members and to charity. I’d invest the rest so I’d be set for life.
Discuss music promotion and how you are boosting your fan base.
I have an online distributor that gets my music out to all the major platforms like iTunes/Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, etc.
The distributor also promotes my music. I pitch myself online to music blogs and send out updates to my mailing list and social media.
And I play out as much as I can. I sell physical CDs at my performances and give out business cards so people can find me and buy my stuff online.
Tell us how you manage other activities with your music career.
I’m nearing retirement age, and I’m no longer working a day job. My kids have recently gone off to college. That gives me a lot of flexibility with my time.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
I go by Seth Hilary Jackson. It’s my full name as written on my birth certificate.
When I was a kid, I was proud of my middle name until some kids started laughing at me and telling me I have a girl’s name.
For a long time afterward, I kept the name to myself. Eventually, I started becoming proud of it once again and decided to use it as my stage name. I like the uniqueness. If you Google “Seth Jackson”, you’ll get hundreds of hits. If you Google, “Seth Hilary Jackson”, I’m the only one.
State the title of the song and the meaning.
The title “If Love Had a Butt” is just a funny title for a fun song. Audiences always love the song, and everyone remembers it.
Other songs’ titles on my album have much deeper emotional significance. For example, “Fear” is about struggling with anxiety. I’ve learned from performing the song that lots of people relate to this.
State the title of the album and the reason for choosing the title.
The album is called “This One’s For You” after one of the included songs.
After spending many years writing songs for the commercial market, I sat down one day to write one specifically for my wife and her alone. For once, I wasn’t thinking about commerciality when I wrote it, and I had no intention of playing it for anyone but her – Thus the title. But when she heard it, she told me it was a hit and I should record it. So I did. And I used it as the title song to dedicate the whole album to her.