The last 12 months have been anything but “a wasted year” — at least, that’s the case for Jaden Hossler. The all-encompassing punk musician, known as jxdn, spent the better part of the past several months in a state of catharsis while writing, producing, and constructing his first-ever body of work as an artist. And he hopes that the debut album, Tell Me About Tomorrow, will earn him a title beyond musician or artist. Simply put, jxdn wants to be recognized for what he already knows he is: a “rock star.”
The road to punk notoriety was a whirlwind for 20-year-old jxdn, one aided by an existing dedicated fanbase and otherworldly collaborations for someone just finding their footing in the industry. At the height of his career as a content creator on TikTok two years ago, a label that feels somewhat like a past life now, jxdn first became acquainted with the world of punk music.
When jxdn first began listening to punk (and eventually became inspired by it), it was as if two strangers stumbled upon each other in a busy intersection; there was no slowing down for jxdn, but there was certainly room to head in a new, uncharted direction.
And that journey, according to jxdn, is the most crucial part of it all; Tell Me About Tomorrow is, essentially, a bonus earned in tandem with the lived experience of learning, creating, and developing his image and sound as a strong punk musician.
“I’m just so excited,” jxdn tells EUPHORIA. “I really think that it’s going to be the craziest journey of my life. And it’s more about the journey than just the moment of it coming out, so this is just the beginning of a really cool journey.”
There’s no doubt that the trek was a laborious one. jxdn packaged a lengthy 18-track album that blends his grungy, pop-punk singles with a more nostalgic collection of songs that don’t hide their influence from the early 2000s era of punk that jxdn explains he “didn’t really grow up listening to,” but found himself deeply in love with as he developed the project with collaborator Travis Barker.
Thus, the last two months have been a waiting game for jxdn — acting as sort of a “now what?” phase between finishing the music and the album’s release date — but the pause also gave jxdn plenty of time to reflect on the music, the people, and the artistic vision that led him to step away from social media and dive head first into becoming jxdn.
jxdn has noted in most every published interview that it was a Juice WRLD show that encouraged him to take the leap. It isn’t so much that he grew out of his initial influence, but tailoring his sound led him to broaden his listening horizons to draw influence across genres; punk music is one of the newest additions to jxdn’s catalog, but he was determined to thrive while making it.
jxdn’s favorite band at the moment is The Descendants, though KennyHoopla, glaive, and Screeching Weasel are also in rotation, while Taking Back Sunday and Blink-182 are the bands that jxdn describes as the musical parents for his initial sound. That’s also why jxdn believes it is such a blessing to have Barker on his side; what better way to revamp and reignite a sound than to work with someone who developed it in the first place? “I didn’t even know how much it was going to help out until later on, you know?” jxdn says.
Though the sound of Tell Me About Tomorrow is certainly a mixed bag, jxdn explains that he wanted to stick to a pop-punk-centric sound because “it’s super familiar to people,” drawing fans into a genre they already love while building awareness for his budding artistry. It’s just a taste of what he intends to do, teasing that what comes next could be any array of grungier, dirtier, or even more animated, perhaps a hyperpop moment.
“I just wanted to let people know that I’m a punk baby,” jxdn says. “… and then I want to start bringing in these raw materials and stuff and allowing people to broaden their genre of listening just as much as I would be.”
Despite that “punk baby” mantra, jxdn also doesn’t pretend to be a punk music expert — he admits that he is still learning about the genre’s history (and present, really), but that intimidating learning process didn’t take away from the allure of the punk scene. “I don’t think it could go any better right now,” he explains.
Whatever the formula of education, innovation, and inspiration might be, it’s working. jxdn’s second single, “ANGELS & DEMONS,” was recently RIAA-certified Gold — the track was re-produced by Barker, but jxdn credits a “powerful session” with writers and producers Keith Varon and McKay Stevens to the overarching success of the track. “All of the energy we put in before the song came out I really think translated to what happened afterwards on the music side [and] on the side of it blowing up,” jxdn says.
The success of the track is also a direct callback to the social media audience that helped him to build out the early days of his music career. Though he explains that he really only uses TikTok to give fans a “behind-the-scenes” look into the making of his music, it was once the centerpiece of his online celebrity.
Really, the image of TikTok musician is one that jxdn believes he has already separated himself from; it doesn’t feel like a complement. Social media is a tool for jxdn now, rather than the entire world, and he considers that opportunity to break away from the life of an influencer as “a golden ticket” that he is constantly pushing to live up to the expectations of as an artist.
“I definitely came from TikTok, there’s no denying that. But I don’t live on there anymore,” jxdn explains. “… I don’t even consider myself in that scene at all, whatsoever.”
But the decision to step away from his ever-growing platform didn’t come without some pushback. jxdn has 9.2 million followers on TikTok with over 265 million likes; at first glance, turning attention away from the content that they originally hit the follow button to receive would seem like a misstep. But jxdn wants to be more than a TikTok musician; if he wants to be a rock star, he’s going to have to bring those fans along for the ride.
“It’s really hard because I think there’s people that will always make music for TikTok,” jxdn says. “But I think there’s also people that will come from TikTok that will make music, good music. I really feel like I’m the first, if not one of them, you know?”
One of the first steps to finding footing outside of the world of virality was, perhaps, to begin shaping a sound that distanced itself from his debut. “Comatose,” jxdn’s debut single, is notably missing from Tell Me About Tomorrow’s tracklist; for day-one fans, it will be a sore loss, but jxdn explains that the decision was one made out of a desire for growth, not regret.
He describes it as the beginning of his journey as an artist, explaining that the song was made with the intention of making a rock song that would separate him from the slew of other artists trying to make waves on the platform. It was created less out of a strong passion for the lyricism or sound and more for the pursuit of a breakout hit. It worked, nonetheless, but jxdn is ready to start talking about music that defines who he is as an artist in the present.
“I hope people still listen to it; maybe I’ll play it in shows,” jxdn says. “But I think it’s cool to just kind of keep it going. We’ve already been over it. That’s my first song, you know? We don’t need to keep talking about it.”
Like “Comatose,” “ANGELS & DEMONS” doesn’t exactly reflect jxdn’s recently evolved sound, but jxdn will always recognize it as a crucial piece of the foundation to the house that built it. It’s also a constant reminder to keep pushing to new heights, as he cites having a “record like that” so early in his career is an indicator of the imminent possibilities for finding artistic prosperity.
Barker, as well as more recent collaborator Machine Gun Kelly, are two of the central catalysts helping him to break through the genre ceiling. MGK’s musical film, Downfalls High, was the second time jxdn and the Tickets to My Downfall musician met (but the first “for more than five seconds”) and the visibility created an undeniable public association that resulted in the collaborative “Wanna Be,” the album’s first post-release single.
“Never in a million years would I have thought that I would go on tour with MGK, and never in a million years I would have thought that he would have a fire ass single on my album with me,” jxdn explains. “And we literally have both.”
The track is certainly a focal point on the album, which acts as a bridge for fans to listen into jxdn’s artistic evolution in what feels like real-time. Much like the reality of finding oneself, Tell Me About Tomorrow is often delightfully disjointed; this is, in part, due to jxdn realizing that the sound of his initial singles (“ANGELS & DEMONS,” “TONIGHT,” “SO WHAT!,” “BETTER OFF DEAD,” and “THINK ABOUT ME”) wasn’t the vibe he wanted to latch onto for the rest of the project.
In turn, the final product gave jxdn the opportunity to reflect on his own growth. He describes the music he is making now as “some far left emo shit that’s just really raw punk,” a genre-bend that is certainly different from what listeners will hear on this debut. But the tracklist is positioned, subjectively, to give the listener a cliffhanger of sorts; thus, anything is possible, and jxdn is preparing fans for just that.
Tell Me About Tomorrow opens with a voicemail from Barker, announcing that jxdn will likely be his first sign to DTA Records. “This kid’s next,” Barker says on the voicemail, opening the album with the confidence that jxdn is here to stay.
“He has a lot of faith in me,” jxdn explains. “If Travis Barker from fucking Blink, who knows every fucking punk band in the world, is going tell people and have faith that I’m next, I’m next in line to be one of those greats? I don’t know what else I could ask for.”
Immediately following Barker’s voice is “PILLS,” the only song that jxdn wrote entirely on his own while on a trip to Vegas a year ago. It’s also one of the first tracks that he wrote for the album, nearly missing the final cut; unsurprisingly, it was Barker’s encouragement that landed it at the top of the tracklist.
The song has the most “bedroom” vibes, according to jxdn, and that was exactly the point. The track was created to feel homemade, creating a sound that almost contrasts the rest of the project’s production. This is further evidenced by tracks immediately following: “THINK ABOUT ME,” “WANNA BE,” and “A WASTED YEAR,” a throwback track about frustrated heartbreak all precede an interlude that, at first glance, appears to be teasing but holds a sweet and devastatingly symbolic meaning for the artist.
“My sister was videoing me and I was in my mom’s closet looking at the clothes,” jxdn explains. “And she’s like, ‘Tell your mom you love her!” And I was like, “I love you, mommy.” And she was like, ‘Aw, he’ll tell you he loves you even if it’s to the camera.’ And then she’s like, ‘OK, well, we have one minute left, so I’m going to turn off the camera.’ I saw that video, [and] it just gave me a lot of inspiration. I was like, if I had one minute left, I would just tell my family that I love them, you know? It’s kind of a self-reflecting moment. So that one’s really, really powerful.”
The song that begins to play directly at the interlude’s conclusion is “ONE MINUTE,” a song that is centered lyrically on what jxdn would do if he only had a minute left to tell those around him how much he loves and admires them. It’s far from the most emotionally wrenching song on the album, but in some ways, it does feel the most raw; the vulnerability that jxdn showcases on “ONE MINUTE” is some of his best in writing, a throughline that carries across the remaining 10 tracks.
Essentially, the tracklist is intended to represent a mostly true representation of the unpredictability of life, following jxdn through moments of heartbreak, distress, and crisis while acting as a cathartic and sometimes diary-like outlet for fans to follow as jxdn comes out on the other side. Ultimately, that was more important to jxdn than creating some cohesive order to the songs — it is meant to be more emotional than methodical, and the tracks that speak to jxdn most as an artist are reflective of that.
“‘TELL ME ABOUT TOMORROW’ makes me cry every time,” jxdn says. “When I perform that live, it’s going to be gnarly. I did an acoustic version [recently], and I kept it together. Low-key. It’s the only true story, I guess. I was trying to really tell a story. All my other songs are more metaphorical; I bring in different elements from different times, you know. They sound like they’re all about a girl, but they’re not. I’ve actually been through real pain from this shit. Seeing addiction and almost losing my friend. It’s hard. So having a song that really represents him, and not only represents him, but the whole album and millions of people that I know go through the same thing. It just hits me every time.”
And that feeling, that emotional, aching breakthrough, is precisely what jxdn intends for the album to feel like. It is cathartic, undoubtedly, but he wants it to act primarily as “a symbol of hope” for those listeners who share those lived experiences. jxdn wants to convey that things do get better, just as they did for him.
For jxdn, those symbols of hope are three women that helped him heal and turn those experiences into art: his mom, his girlfriend, Nessa Barrett, and a longtime fan-turned-friend named Sadie.
“I love my mom so much, she’s my best friend,” jxdn explains. “I don’t think I could do anything without her. My girlfriend, Nessa, gives me a lot of safety; she makes me feel like an actual artist, you know? She makes me really feel like what I do is profound, almost.”
jxdn continues, “I have like a fan that’s not even a fan anymore at this point, but I say she’s a fan to give her some credit. She’s been with me since the beginning, since I started going live two and a half years ago. She’s been with me and she’s believed in me. And about halfway through, she became like a really good friend … so we built this relationship over the years, and I’ve gotten to send her some of my music — not all of it, because I want to keep it like a surprise for her. Her name is Sadie, and she’s incredibly talented as well. She’s given me a lot of patience … I feel like she gave me constant peace throughout this album. She had a lot of faith in me, and knowing that I had her, my girlfriend, and my mom, I felt like I could take over the world.”
And jxdn did conquer — though maybe not the world, certainly this first project. “NO VANITY” and “TELL ME ABOUT TOMORROW” close out the tracklist of a high-energy, introspective and overall impressive debut for jxdn. While the album has only just made its first steps out into the world, he is already nailing down what he is ready to do differently to positively shape his artistry (and his own private persona) post-Tell Me About Tomorrow.
“Stop trying to be cool; 100%, stop trying to be cool,” jxdn says of the change he is ready to make — and already beginning to implement — moving forward. “It’s not like I was trying so hard to be cool that I missed the mark on this album, that’s not it. I just mean that I still feel like there were times where I was thinking about the outcome before I was thinking about what we were doing in the actual song. For example, I love ‘ANGELS & DEMONS PT. 2.’ I only started to make the song because Uzi has part twos to his songs, and I was like, ‘That would be so cool if I made a part two to my song.’ And that wasn’t wrong, because we made a really good song out of it. But I think for my next album, I really just want to get to my core. I want to get to the music I want to make.”
The rest of summer 2021 will leave jxdn with the time to get started, but his opportunity to showcase what it means to be pop-punk’s next big thing sits just on the year’s horizon. Next up? His fall tour with MGK, complete with the two things he can’t wait to experience: his audience’s response to his set from the first track to its conclusion and the food.
“I think that the change in people’s eyes after I perform for them is going to change my life,” jxdn says. “And then I think that food is a blessing, and I love the aesthetic around food. So, traveling the country eating different foods would be really, really fun.”
As jxdn has always noted, it’s about the journey — not the outcome. Just as the process was cathartic for him, he’s ready to make that restorative feeling a universal one with his music. Now equipped with the tools and experience to shape his next venture to his precise, punk vision, jxdn stands directly in front of the door that leads him to doing just that.
“I’m so grateful for every opportunity that I’ve been given,” jxdn explains. “And I promise you, I’m going to shock the world because I’m ready for the world to shock me. I’m ready to build that relationship and I’m ready to heal together.”