De'Wayne Jackson Talks His Upcoming EP: 'Don't Be Afraid'
De’Wayne Jackson knows a thing or two about the hustle: after leaving his Houston home at the tender age of 18, for the intimidating-yet-sunny streets of LA, his big dreams were met with an even bigger reality—this was going to take a hell of a lot of work. A few short years later and that work is certainly paying off: he’s “shaking hands” with all the right people, putting out tracks that prove his potential, and setting his sights on what’s ahead.
We caught up with Jackson on the heels of his “Truth Is” release, and since then, he’s dropped another dope track: “Watchin”. Check it below, then keep scrolling for our full interview with this budding hip hop maven. Oh, and that EP? Stay tuned—it’s set to drop this Friday, May 26.
Congrats on releasing “Truth Is”! We love it.
Thank you! I really appreciate that. Thanks, that means a lot to me.
What has the reception been like so far?
Oh man, it’s the first song that I’ve ever released where I feel like it’s a really good song and I feel like people can tell and they can see and everybody’s been really nice about it. [Laughs] It was cool, getting on some of the Spotify playlists and you know I’ve never really had anything like that so it’s been going well. I’m proud of it, so I’m happy that people are liking it.
And I know that’s from your upcoming EP—is there a narrative that runs through all the songs?
Yeah, most definitely. With the EP I called it Don’t Be Afraid and it’s just cause, you know, I left home straight out of high school, and came to LA. I was hit with life, pretty much, and was like, “I have big dreams, I’m gonna make it happen,” thinking I was gonna be this and that overnight, and that was not the case, you know—I had to work hard and work odd jobs. It was just getting in with people. I didn’t know anyone when I came out to LA. So it’s just pretty much my story of leaving home, leaving my brothers and sisters and my family, and everything I ever knew, to go to a whole new, completely new place, and a big place, rather than a suburb outside of Houston. So it’s just that experience that I dealt with, kind of going from a boy to a man, and really learning what I wanna do and trying to put my foot out there.
What’s your creative process like for each song from start to finish? Do they come to you immediately or do you have to work through the lyrics?
It’s weird sometimes because I feel like I have to feel it. You know? I have to feel what the beat is and I’m down to sit on a song long if I have to but usually when the songs are right, for me, they just come. They just come from deep down in my soul, not to sound all like crazy but they really come from a place that I don’t know. It’s like I’ll be working and the producer that I work with, he’ll just play a certain guitar or something on the keys and then it just comes from my spirit, I don’t know, it’s weird! [Laughs] I like to listen to a lot of kind of sad music before I create too, and kind of take down notes and observe people to get in the creative process. Because you know, just creating, some people can just write something just ‘cause they have to do it, but for me I just let it flow and come from a deeper place. So that’s how I like to work on each song from the EP and how I like to create music going forward as well.
Is it hard to get in that space when you’re hustling and working all these jobs on the side?
Right, exactly—yeah, it definitely can be. But it’s bad, ‘cause I like to be in pain, you know, when I’m creating. So even if I’m working the two jobs or things are not going so well, it gave me something to write about, you know? It was tough, just to be up still when you got work in the morning and stuff like that, but, I was pretty focused on really trying to create, and it gave me a story, you know, it gave me something to say. Even if it was pain or heartache, it was my story. So I was able to give it in a real way and still be able to create and figure it out.
I’m from north Dallas so I totally understand the suburban upbringing thing.
Yeah way! So as far as your upbringing in Houston, I know you had kind of a strict upbringing but how did that influence or affect you creatively?
Yeah, it was very strict. My stepdad is a preacher and we were at church three days out of the week, you know, choir rehearsal and bible study and the board meeting—we were there for everything, and so when I was 14 and I was like, “I wanna do music!” they were like, “No Devil in my house!” [Laughs] It was like the old times, for my family—everything they do is by the book. And I love it, and I respect it, I was just kind of the first one in the family to say, “Maybe this isn’t for me.” I didn’t want to go to college, I really wanted to do music, and I was set on it. I was so passionate about it that they kind of let me slide, but they definitely didn’t really support it until like last year. So they were pretty strict on me, but it helped I guess, it helped me create because I was kind of like, maybe music was my little rebel thing. When I really started taking it seriously, it was like, “What are you doing. What is this.” It slowly grew on them and my mom is so proud now and that makes me really, really happy. That’s all I ever wanted.
I know the EP is about to drop—how are you feeling?
If I can be honest, I definitely am nervous, you know, ‘cause it’s been like a two year process of no music and I feel like a completely new artist so I’m nervous, but I’m also very excited for people to hear. I have total confidence in the music and in what I’m saying and in my story, so I’m excited. I’m stoked to hear what people have to say and I’m stoked to just have it out in the world. It’s been in my email for a long time so I’m ready for people to hear it. I’m more excited than nervous but a couple of nerves for sure.
And what’s in the pipeline for the rest of the year besides the EP?
Just doing more shows. I finally started to create new music for the next project and I’m loving what I have so far, so I’m super stoked on that. So yeah, just doing more shows and hopefully just shaking more hands with people and letting them see me and really feel the music in a real way. I really wanna spread this music as far as it can go so that’ll be my goal for the rest of the year.
Featured image courtesy of De’Wayne Jackson
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