features / spotlight

J for Jackie: Family Reunion Talks Debut EP

“I just make music that I, myself, would want to listen to,” Jackie Carlson, otherwise known as Family Reunion, said about her work.

Native to Waukegan, IL, Carlson started posting her music on Soundcloud in late 2017. The 18-year-old describes her music as alternative, although she feels she does not fall neatly into one genre.

“I’m really thankful for all the stuff that’s been happening to me. It’s been three months since I released my first song and the amount of support I’ve gotten is amazing and I’m thankful for [everyone],” said Carlson.

Since first publishing music on Soundcloud, and later on Spotify, Family Reunion has received thousands of listens and hundreds of followers. Family Reunion’s debut EP, “J,” drops today.

Photos by Gian Frias (@Friasphoto)

How do you work as a one-man band?

For the first few songs I did, [I] played the guitar, the keyboard, and sang. I had a friend play the drums, and another friend play the bass. For these new songs I’m doing, I’m going to someone else, and [I‘m] playing everything except for the drums. Tombo, my producer in Milwaukee, does the beat and gives creative input. I’ll usually bring a song to the table first, and we make it after that.

How did you get into music?

I always really liked it. It was the only thing that I have continued to do my entire life. I’ve tried to do a lot of hobbies and activities, but the only thing that I really did that I know how to do is music. It’s not that I ever got into it, it was just always a thing. My parents were in a cover band [as well].

Where did the name ‘Family Reunion’ come from?

I saw it on a sign on the side of the road.

What things do you like writing about most?

I honestly just write about what’s bothering me and whatever is on my mind. It’s just things that go on in my life.

Where do you get inspiration from and who are some artists you listen to?

Probably the most would be Paramore, King Krule, and also Kevin Abstract’s American Boyfriend album. … Lately, I’ve been listening to the new Brockhampton album a lot and Homeshake.

Who contributes to Family Reunion outside of the music?

My team right now is Angel, my manager; Tombo, my producer; and Nancy, who edits videos and makes beats. We’re working on a music video together. Ellisa helps me a lot too. I talk to her a lot about planning. We’re just a really close group of people, who I was friends with before we started making music. I also worked with my friend Jordan, who did the covers for my first three songs; Angel did the last two covers.

Can you tell me more about the artwork for your songs?

For the first three I saw that Jordan was doing a lot of drawings online and putting them on t-shirts which I really liked. The first three songs were a lot more upbeat, and I thought the mood of my songs and his art would match very well. With Angel, he does cover art often for many people and I liked his approach on things a lot too; I was looking for more of a picture of me so people could see a face behind the music [for the single “Vacation”].

What can you tell me about your new EP, “J”?

The EP is six songs long, with two already out: “Flower” and “Vacation,” which represent one part of the EP. I decided to release them as singles because I didn’t want a huge gap between my song releases, and I wanted to post every month. Three of the songs have live drums, and three have a drum machine. They all come together with the sound I want to portray. While I liked my first three songs, I feel my new songs better portray who I am as an artist. They also have guitar on them because it’s my favorite part to write. I’m trying to incorporate guitar into all of my songs.

Do you have any upcoming shows planned?

I’m playing in Chicago on February 24. I played in Kentucky on February 3. It was me, Rosario and Diamond Ray. Rosario is the one who asked me to be on the show. Kentucky was great and everyone there was really nice. I played for a dance at my old high school that I graduated from, but nobody could come unless they were a student.

Check out Family Reunion’s upcoming performance at Bando Ba$h Pt. 2, and stream her debut EP “J” here.

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