When the Beat Drops…Vandes Answers!
Vandes D. Jackson II grew up in the heart of the Washington Heights (the heights) neighborhood, one of the 77 established south side communities in Chicago. This neighborhood was established Oct. 25, 1869. Jackson remarked, “There’s so much rich heritage I’ve learned to love and accept. It’s truly an honor to call such a place home.”
When asked to describe his childhood, Jackson elaborated, “most of my childhood took place in the home of my maternal grandparents and my mother. My mother would work most of the day on Sundays leaving me in the tender care of my grandparents who would take me to church with them. I vividly remember watching the drummer from my seat and taking an interest in the art form of percussion at the age of 6. Prior to those Sunday morning experiences, my family tells me that I began beating on boxes and buckets around the time I developed the skill to walk. The reality of my musical interest is simply that music has been in me (literally and figuratively) my entire life.”
Obviously, music began for Jackson at a young age. The next question pertained to his musical influence and Jackson answered: “Throughout my life, I’ve had many influences on a variety of musical spectrums. For the sake of this interview, I’d have to say one of my “new-found” prominent influences would have to be the incomparable Anthony Bruno. During my time at The Chicago High School for the Arts, I was introduced to a contemporary musical exploration I’ll never forget. There was never a dull moment in the context of musicality, theory, artist development, or a simple jam session that was overseen by Anthony Bruno! Today, Anthony serves as the Director of Jazz Studies at The Chicago High School for the Arts, changing lives and most likely building a legacy he’ll probably never truly understand. My life has been changed for the better in great ways because of him.”
After learning of Jackson’s influences, it was interesting to hear he also worked with one of Greenville’s more well-known bands Nighttime Safari. This summer, Jackson toured with them. “Touring with Nighttime Safari was nothing short of spectacular! Over the course of time, we’ve become so much more than a lab band crafted under the umbrella of Greenville College; we are family. It’s truly amazing how much musicality can be crafted from a group of people with uncommon backgrounds! Some of us come from various perspectives in the context of our music: gospel, country, CCM, neo-soul, funk, fusion, indie etc. Road trips were filled with triple-entendre rhymes from the front man – the maniac himself (Ben Barber), many melodic lines and expressions from Ariana Thomas of course, classic Bryson Buehrer with sick mumbling bass lines in my ear as we crammed into the back seat of the 87’ Camry, plenty of air guitar from the amazing Austin Fredrich, and yours truly with miles upon miles of beatboxing, and literally beating on objects in the vehicle and venues.”
As if his musical abilities aren’t impressive enough, Jackson also has an eye for fashion. “In the last 4 years, I’ve developed a keen interest in designing and marketing. However, the products I wish to market and design come with a message of positivity and persistence. This is what makes my branding unique. Last month, I was blessed to release my official limited edition prototype (Nujaxxx) handcrafted in Italy to boycott another economic advantage of China and other countries responsible for the making of most products we consume. In March of 2016, I will be releasing another model that will support the campaign of breast cancer awareness. There will be separate men and women pink & black models. I’m excited to release them!”
Jackson’s future plans consist of finishing his Bachelor of Music Performance, immediately obtaining his MDiv (Master of Divinity) from an accredited seminary, which is the first professional degree of the pastoral profession, then obtaining his D.Min (Doctor of Ministry) from an accredited college. He states, “I have a desire to lead people to Christ in any way possible. I understand my plan is concrete and straightforward. However, I’m prepared to make a discourse from my blueprint if I’m led in a different direction. God’s plans for me are far greater than the plans I have for myself.”
The interview closed with the question, “What advice would you give to students?” Jackson responded, “We naturally have an inquisitive nature as students and as human beings. My advice would be to simply not be afraid of exploration and open your mind to new things. This can vary from new perspectives, new music, new foods, new belief systems and even clothing you wouldn’t normally wear. I have a reformed joy and appreciation for life because I’m an explorer! You too can find this within yourself if you open your mind! I wish you all the best in your studies, God bless!”