Interview with Jackson Simmons - Little Image

Interview by Alex Stinson with Lead Vocalist of Little Image,  Jackson Simmons

Alex: “ So, Little Image, tell us how you got started.”

Little Image: “So, I actually got a challenge from one of my friends to write an EP. I wrote the EP and recorded it with a close friend of mine, and I really wanted to do the songs live. So, I met like everyone basically through Instagram and Social Media when I was wanting to start it all. And Abby's my sister, so I knew her through that; but basically I wrote a solo EP and wanted to call it something. So I called it Little Image, and (then) got some close friends to make music with.”

Alex: “I love that EP, I actually got that at your concert. I rock that in my car a lot. So that was then; what did you guys look like then, and what do you guys look like now? What is the formation of your band?”

Little Image: “Uh, we had a little bit of a line up change since then. Our guitarists actually quit during Summer and then came back after this last tour. We all started the band when we were in high school and now we are all graduated. Actually, two of the band members just moved in with me, so we're all kind of living together now which is really cool. I would just say we are kind of growing day by day, turning into adults. Not really you know, we’re still one of the youngest bands like in our area but uh, we're growing up. I guess that's kind of the difference between then and now.”

Alex: “Do you see that like changing how you write your music and how you make your songs and does it show in the songs that you write?”

Little Image: “I would say yeah. Especially like now living together, we're getting to write a little more regularly than we have been in the past. Since we all lived pretty far apart from each other, we never had a whole lot of time to write together. Being in the same house under the same roof, writing just about every night; it's pretty productive in my opinion.”

Alex: “Yeah that's awesome! So when did you start making music? When did you start writing stuff personally?”

Little Image: “Me personally, I started writing music at an arts camp I went to uh like (in) 2012-2013. There was like a songwriting workshop there (that I) started kind of messing around with. Yeah I was actually drumming for that camp and then they taught me a little bit of guitar and (I) started writing some music after that.”

Alex: “So you started out on drums?”

Little Image: “My dad owned a bakery when I was a kid and he would get me all the wheat buckets (that) I would turn into drum kits. And that's kind of where I started.”

Alex: “That's awesome. Um, so back then what were like, you're biggest influences. What other bands really influenced you in your musical taste?”

Little Image: “I was super into singer-songwriter stuff when I was first writing. I saw the movie Dan in Real Life and really liked the soundtrack from there. So, I got super into Sondre Lerche, who wrote the whole score for that movie. Now, I really love Pedro the Lion. He is definitely one of my biggest influences when it comes to creating and writing; and we all really love Mutemath.”

Alex: “Yeah so you guys released Musings in August correct? So why don't you tell us a little bit about that? What was the writing process for that album like for you?”

Little Image: “The writing process is pretty chaotic actually. We crowdfunded the record and planned to have it out within like six months of crowdfunding it, and that definitely didn't happen. There was like a lot of life stuff that kind of happened for all of us. We were all graduating high school around the time that we funded it. So, we ended up writing and recording it in a year and a half instead of six months. There was like a lot of different processes for writing I would say. We went away on a trip to like the middle of nowhere to write, (and) actually came out with “Cardboard Box” and “Walls.” That was really good, we're actually planning on doing that for the new stuff we're doing. But that was kind of the most influential and inspiring part of the writing for me. Getting to go away and get away from reality for a little bit, and just write with just a few of us, and get some of the song's knocked out; it was cool. But the writing process was kind of like we texted each other a lot of ideas and met up and kind of finished them in the studio. Living far apart was a chaotic, stressful way to write music. It was fun, but it was definitely crazy.”

Alex: “Yeah, I believe it. So like the things you write about in your songs, does it come from a lot of experiences in your life?”

Little Image: “I would say yeah. There's a lot of things that I write about that aren't personal experiences; they’re things I see. Musings was a very relational record for me about a lot of different relationships that I have had, even relationships with myself. It’s kind of like a lot of personal experiences, but a lot of, you know, things I see from other people's experiences that I want to see changed.”

Alex: “Would you mind like maybe breaking down one of the songs from the albums? One of my personal favorites is ‘Bottles.’”

Little Image: “Yeah, that song has like a couple different meanings, but it, uh it was kind of about, you know, my relationship with God at the time was just kind of feeling a little left out, a little distanced from Him. I just kind of felt like He was bottling His love for me, but I kind of felt like I wasn't really loved by Him.  Sometimes we kind of shut out the Lord from a lot of different things. I think it was just kind of a time I was struggling with Lord. Kind of feeling that pretty heavy.”

Alex: “I know with your EP you guys definitely incorporated your faith a lot more. What was your decision in kind of switching a little bit in Musings? It's definitely a different tone to the album.”

Little Image: “We're all like, involved with our churches and stuff and with Little Image we want it to be a little more of that band feel. We want to be less of like a “worship” feel, but more still being able to love on people, but not box people into certain, you know, religion or anything like that. So I think we kind of took a turn when it came to the topics we were writing about. Just to be relatable to like every crowd of people.”

Alex: “Also about the album, were there any, like, really big moments when you're making this album that stand out to you that were some really tough times, or really great times when writing this?”

Little Image: “I would say, uh, towards the end was a really tough and great time for all of us. We weren't gonna use “Cardboard Box Spaceship” at all. We didn't know how the song (was) gonna go. We had kind of like roughly written it out, and we were just going to make it a nine song album. Me and Troy, our drummer, and Alex our bass player, talked; and Troy, was like ‘yeah there's no way we're not putting it on the record, we’ve got to figure it out.’ So, we had like one more day of studio time with the guy who was making a record for us and, uh, we're like let's do this tonight and then we'll just track it tomorrow. We had no idea what we were doing. Like we had this rough idea of how the song was going to go, and I had the lyrics written out; but it was kind of like I didn't really know where else to go with it. Because it's a pretty simple song lyrically, there's not a whole lot of dynamics when it comes to that; but we had to kind of like, restructure it. It turned out to be like our favorite on the record in terms of  how musical it is. It's just a banger in our opinion, in terms of like it's just really fun to play and really funny listen to. (The song is) a lot different than, like the rest of the songs on the record. It was a cool experience getting to restructure that towards the end of the record, and that being the first single that we released off the record was cool. And that was the first time we really wrote with our bass player; actually, because he was a guy that came in later on in the history of the band. But yeah, it was definitely (a) memorable experience for all of us.”

Alex: “The album cover. I know the artwork of it is pretty unique. Is there something behind that?”

Little Image: “We worked with a guy, he was actually my roommate at the time. His name was actually Jared Medeiros, and he's just a very creative guy. I kind of told him the meaning of the record, you know, a period of thought and reflection, which kind of summed up the whole process of the crazy, hectic writing that we did; and he kind of took those little marks that are on there I don't know if you recognize them but they're kind of  proofreading marks from like english papers. So when we were like looking back we were rewriting the whole time we were making the record, and thinking about a lot of things that (we) were writing about. So he kind of took that aspect of things, and incorporated proofreading marks to symbolize the name Musings as you know, looking back and rewriting, refiguring. Yeah, I thought is was genius. So I was like, ‘dude do it, I love it.’”

Alex: “Is a touring musician, a creating a band, is that something you ever imagine when you were younger? Like was that your dream?”

Little Image: “I always liked the idea of performing. My dad was a youth pastor and he had all these VHS tapes of the live bands to play like in between youth services and stuff and I would always watch those; not really imagine(ing) myself doing it, but you know I would kind of really want to do it. There was a video we had, for, I think it was the Newsboys and their lead singer would wear a cowboy hat, so I put a cowboy hat on and we just jammed to those videos with wheat buckets and drumsticks. I don't know, I think I kind of went through a lot of phases growing up. Music was always kind of like there, but (it) wasn’t always like the main focus.  I think around when I turned fifteen/sixteen, was when I really wanted to do it. It became a big dream to tour, and play in front of people, and share my music with people. Yeah, I think it was kind of a vague dream.”

Alex: “What is some advice you would give to like someone who's around that fifteen/sixteen age; who is interested in becoming an artist, or musician, or something like that?”

Little Image: “I would just say, you know, do it how you want to do it and, definitely take wise advise and wise counsel from people. Don't think you're better than anyone, because it's something that everyone does and it’s really not a good idea. Just do it how you want to do it. Make it happen however it happens naturally, because everyone has a really unique story to how it works. Don't try and go by some sort of formula.”

Alex: “What would have been most help for you; helpful for you as an individual and as a band, when you guys were first starting out?”

Little Image: “I feel like we had a lot of help in terms of the guy who had produced our record; he became our manager temporarily. (He) basically just really encouraged us to keep doing it and stay humble. I mean, obviously, you know, managers were usually pretty helpful. I would say we had a lot of help starting out as a small local band from him as a big brother, and as a mentor, and as a  producer. I feel like we had a lot of leverage having him (as) a part of our team, so I feel like we started in a in a good place that was very small, but had dreams and all that.”

Alex: “What was your biggest struggle then, like when you were first starting out, and what did you guys do to overcome that?”

Little Image: “I think it’s really easy to get caught up in yourself when people are liking what you (are) doing. I think that's something that we really had to work hard and keep each other you know in line with; remembering why we're doing what we're doing. It's not you know about ourselves, it's about you know, people we are getting to do it for. I think that was something that was really hard for us. There was a lot of people enjoying what we were doing and it was really hard for us to you know, take that for granted.  I don't know, I think it was kind of a hard place to be, being so young and building (a) fanbase pretty quickly was kind of a shock for us. There were definitely times where we played shows where we kind of felt like we were better than everyone, and that was something that we have to really catch ourselves and be like, hey, we can't be like that. That's not who we are, and it's, not who we want to be.”

Interview Edited by Macy Waddingham and Joshua Stanley