This week’s conversation is with Randy Jackson, a world-renowned musician, record producer, A&R executive, and founder of Unify Health Labs.
You might be familiar with Randy as one of the judges of the wildly popular “American Idol” but Randy’s roots in the music industry go way back.
Randy first entered the music industry in the ‘80s as a for-hire studio session bassist.
His skill, easy-going personality, and never-say-die work ethic saw him appearing on stages and records with world-famous acts like Journey, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny G, Aretha Franklin, Maze, Jean-Luc Ponty, Billy Cobham, and Tracy Chapman.
He soon made the transition to the production end, working first in mixing and eventually full production.
The list of artists he produced include NSYNC, Whitney Houston, Céline Dion, and Fergie.
So Randy gets it – he’s been fortunate to work with the best.
In this conversation, we discuss the “it” factor – the common trait shared by the best musicians, entertainers and beyond.
In This Episode:
His approach to life
You’ve got to be positive. You’ve got to keep those positive thoughts around you because then you attract the positivity into your life, and other people coming in. So, try and have no dark clouds, man. It doesn’t end well. You are what you attract. You are what you think.
What are the principles that are most important to him?
Compassion, humility, honesty, and also acceptance of who I am, where I am, what I’m doing. I always say, “We are the choices we have made. Are the choices we’re currently making.” So, if you’re in a position, or in a place where you don’t want to be and you don’t like it, consult the choices you have made. Don’t blame others. Don’t blame the system. Don’t blame the Government. Blame… You made these choices. Why did you make this choice?
What he says to almost every artist me meets
There’s who you think are, there’s who you think you want to be, I only want to deal with who you are. And if you don’t know that, you got to figure that out and accept that then we can talk. If you don’t know that and you haven’t accepted that, I can’t really help you because you’re not really living in the here and now.”
Know yourself and know your gifts
I had to do the work and I had to find within my soul what was going to be my voice. What is my individuality? Does anybody need another great singer? I would always say, on Idol… Simon and I would always say this, “No. But the world needs another singer that’s different with a different personality, with a whole different sound.” Somebody that’s great that’s unique, not somebody… Not more of the same. The beach doesn’t need anymore sand. But that in itself is hard for people to understand. So, that purpose of understanding who I am, or what do I have? Because God has given us all something unique within ourselves. It’s up to us to find out what that is and build upon that.
What practices does he recommend for self-discovery?
I think really having conversations with informed people, listening to podcasts like this and others. I think digging as much as you can, and really sitting quietly and just saying to yourself, “Who am I? What am I best at?” Not, “What am I good at?” “What am I best at?” I meet people all the time, “Oh, I can do this. I can do that.” People would come in and audition on Idol, “I sing jazz, blues, rock, country, R&B, classical.” Whatever. We’d always say, “Yeah but which one of those are you the best at? Let’s start with what you’re the best at.” If you can’t identify that, then you need to call through all of the trials and tribulations to identify that. Start to build there. Let’s get it back to bumbling basic simple. I’m born. I’m a man, woman, child, whomever I am. What do I do best? Not what I want to do. Not what I think I do. What do I do best?
What makes an artist like Billie Eilish special?
She did what all of the greats did. Somehow she figured out who she was. You may have said it’s who she wants to be, or who she thinks she is. She figured out who she was. She figured out… You’ve heard her say it in interviews. “I don’t have a big voice. This is my voice.” She found her voice and stuck with it. And authentically became herself, her clothing, her look, her vibe, and man, what conviction. “I don’t care where I am. This is what I’m doing.” So, that opens up the doors. When you connect the dots, there in becomes the power. If you can connect the dots, and give it the best that you have in fun, your individuality, somehow the doors start to open and you’re convicted saying, “I don’t care.”
What makes a great song?
To me, it’s two things. Unbelievable chorus. And a lyric in that chorus that I can hear one time and I’m singing forever. One listen. “I love you, yeah, yeah. Oh, wow.” Okay. So, hey, whatever the song is. I mean, you know, Megan The Stallion with Savage. Whatever it is. It just rings to me, I get it, I love it right away. Almost like love at first sight, Doctor Mike.
Is there a verse, lyric, or a song that’s in the forefront of his mind right now?
Not necessarily a song but resonating in my mind right now is, “This too shall pass. A change is going to come. Oh, yes, it will.” To quote Sam Cook. Change has to come. The world’s at it’s knees. COVID. Everybody’s stopped. The world. Not just America. Not just China. Not just Russia. Not just Australia. The world. Then we see a reflection in the mirror of what Dr. Martin Luther King and so many others tried for so long, and we’ve come far but we see the reflection of how far we really have to go still. My God. When you look at that, and you think, “What is this? The ’60s? The ’50s? Where are we? What happened? What did we do? Where are our leaders? What the hell happened?” We thought we’d come this far, so this is God saying, “Uh-huh. Look at how much work there is to do.”
The fear of other people’s opinions
You can never become that star worrying about what other people think. If you’re a star, and you’re willing to go out on that stage, and sing in front of 500, or 1,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 people, you could be wearing a whole bear suit but to them, you’re nude. They’re judging every part of you. “I don’t like his eyes, they’re too close together. His ears are huge. His nose is just crooked. His knees…” I mean, they’re tearing you to shreds. You cannot go into the battle unless you’re ready to take on all sides. So, that means, you have to have, “I don’t give a whatever about who says what. I’m convicted to who I am.” As I say to people, do you believe that so you’re convicted? Are you willing to carry your cross into the strongest wind, the strongest wind blowing and all the naysayers?
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