Digging deep into the grooves of Jackson Night’s latest single “Streetlights,” it’s impossible not to be captivated by its rich instrumentation and unexpected flair.
The Canberra musician is here to spill the tea with Happy Mag, giving us an exclusive track-by-track guide of this mesmerizing tune and two other gems. Get ready for a sonic journey that’s sure to leave you craving for more!
Last week, we caught up with Jackson Night for a chat about his most recent single Streetlights. The broad-ranging interview saw the producer discuss everything from the influence of movie soundtracks on his work to the “special” music community of his hometown in Canberra. And while his Happy Mag interview went some way in explaining the genesis of Streetlights and his other projects, the sheer complexity of Night’s work requires a deeper dive into the inspirations and processes behind it.
Seeped in instruments too plentiful to count, Streetlights serves as a rich and cinematic extension of the two singles that preceded it. Below, Jackson Night breaks down each of his singles including Streetlights, A Temporary Sense of Control and Faith with a track-by-track guide exclusively for Happy Mag. With mentions of muses like Nine Inch Nails and Frank Ocean, it’s no surprise Night’s discography is as diverse as the music that inspired it.
Catch Jackson Night’s track-by-track take on Streetlights, A Temporary Sense of Control and Faith below, and listen to his new single here.
Faith is the song I’ve always been most proud of in terms of the writing. I wrote and recorded the entire song in one night – it was all kind of a blur afterwards. I don’t really remember much of what happened or how it came together, but it’s always stuck out to me as the song that feels most authentic to my style and the best expression of the mood that I am trying to achieve.
I see Faith as a crossover between Hurt by Nine Inch Nails and White Ferrari by Frank Ocean. I was listening to a lot of both of these artists around this time and I think their influence is worn pretty heavily onto the sleeve of the track. The way I treated the soundscape of the song was inspired a lot by Welcome to the Machine by Pink Floyd.
It took a lot of fine tuning in the mix process to balance out an acoustic guitar that I recorded on my iPhone with a big synth plugin. I came to the realisation that background noise and ambience was the key to having the song build in a way that felt natural and seamless despite the pretty stark jumps in instrumentation. The lyrics of the song are quite dry and honest.
I didn’t edit any of the music or lyrics after that first night because it felt like I’d reached a really earnest place with myself, which is something I’m not used to. Without trying to dissect what the song means to me; I think it’s worth bringing attention to the final lines of the song. They speak quite heavily to how I feel a lot of the time, and I think it’s a feeling that most people can connect to. “Back through my mouth, it’s over now. I’ve been dreaming that it works out. Back to it now, I’m all worn out. Everything I’ll hope for is over now.”
A Temporary Sense of Control
A Temporary Sense of Control was never a song I intended on releasing. It was my attempt at making an ‘opening’ to this imaginary album I was writing at the time. Great opening tracks like The 1975 by the 1975 or Nikes by Frank Ocean and 22 Over Soon by Bon Iver always stand out to me. I’m a sucker for first and last tracks on an album. After I wrote it and put it on Soundcloud, I had a couple of friends tell me how much they enjoyed it which was probably the first time I ever had people actively listening to my music unprompted by me.
So I decided to release it. The line that everyone seems to gravitate towards is “I’m so sick of your voice, won’t shut the fuck up” which I love because of how off the cuff and real that moment was for me when writing the song. I was standing at my microphone and kept getting sound bleeding through the walls of my house that were ruining my vocal takes.
So I just sang that line randomly and it seems to be the thing that everyone remembers about the song. I was recording on a condenser microphone and it was picking up way too much background noise (I lived on a main street at the time). So I ended up just recording all the vocals in voice notes on my iPhone and processing the life out of them.
Streetlights is my take on the post-rock and shoegaze music that I love. Bands like Sigur Rós and Sleepmakeswaves were a big part of my development as a songwriter. I think this shows up in how linear a lot of my song structures are.
Writing Streetlights, I was living by myself in a house on the NSW south-coast and had taken all my recording gear to try and write an album during the COVID lockdown at the time. The entire song came to me within a matter of four or five hours. I left the song on the shelf for a couple years as it got lost amongst a bunch of songs I hated that I’d written at the same time.
But as I was going through my computer late last year, I found it again. I used all the original instrumental stems and remixed them with new drums and vocals, and ended up with what you hear now. I see Streetlights as the closing piece in this trilogy of songs that I wrote in a particular period of my life. I have some new material that feels like it deserves its own space – and equally, I like that these songs can sit together and represent a cohesive reflection of my life at a point in time.