By Alexander Duarte
Over the past few decades, the bountiful live music scene in Colorado has cultivated opportunities for musicians and artists of all kinds to showcase their talents. Through providing artists with this opportunity, Colorado has become a bustling cornerstone of the American live music industry,- and right in the center of it all lies Jaden Carlson, a Boulder local legend. Being only fifteen years of age, she has already toured the country, guest performed with jam-band legends like Umphrey’s McGee, and released her first full length studio album, Polychromatic. This young guitar lord’s jaw-dropping rise to fame is a story of dedication, passion, growing, and perseverance. I had the opportunity to sit down with Jaden and her mother to discuss how all of this came to be.
All it took was one moment for Jaden to realize her dreams. She was six years old and attending her first Michael Franti and Spearhead concert in Copper, CO. The seemingly magical transfer of energy between band, music, and audience spoke to her in a way that she has never been able to forget. “This is what I want to do” she told her mother; and with no musical background from any of her family members, she hit the ground running and never looked back.
With her rigorous practice schedule and mix of lessons from classically trained guitar teacher Andrew Schiller and voice coach Kristen Henry, she seems to have found the winning recipe for success. Ever since Jaden was around ten years old, she has always played with musicians sometimes three or four times her age. Jaden and her mother both expressed the difficulty of finding anyone her age to play music with, especially since most of the locations to play in Boulder are twenty-one and up clubs, requiring underage band members to bring their parents along for the show.
At the age of thirteen Jaden released her first full length album “Polychromatic”. Largely composed by Jaden herself, the album features many bluesy introspective ballads, ripping solos, and funky jams. As of late, The Jaden Carlson Band’s entire lineup has changed, and they have begun to incorporate electronic elements into the core of their sound while still managing to keep it all funky. Jaden described their new sound as a sort of blend between Zoogma and Lettuce.
Two guitar legends she looks up to and draws influence from are Derek Trucks (Allman Brothers Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band) and Eric Krasno (Lettuce, Soulive, Eric Krasno Band). Last time Eric played through her personal amplifier, she decided to keep the all the settings exactly how he set them. Already endorsed by Fuchs Amplifiers and Harper Guitars, she has already accomplished much more than most teenagers her age. Harper guitars are handmade in Indiana; she currently owns three custom guitars and has her own specially designed model. She amplifiers her Harper guitars through a Fuchs Custom Blackjack 21 that Fuchs customized to her exact specifications. She prefers to keep a cleaner guitar tone, tending not to use many overpowering effects in her playing.
Here are four favorite albums of hers that she would like to pass onto Deep Nerd’s readers:
– Animals – Pink Floyd
– Tell Your Friend – Snarky Puppy
– Studio Killers – Studio Killers
– Fancy Footwork – Chromeo
Jaden’s heightened emotional intelligence has separated her from the rest of the kids her age in Boulder, but she has never been very interested in spending much time with them anyways. While seeming to have many personal experiences with bullying, she chose to share just one during our interview. She was much younger and a member of a ski team at the time. During a run on their dry-land training, one of her female team mates decided to punch her directly in the face, for seemingly no reason at all. She took it like a champ and shook it off but unfortunately ended up with a black eye. The experience resulted in a comedic memory the next day when she had to attend a photo shoot wearing sunglasses that made her appear to be blind. The best part about it all is that the album she was shooting for has the title Tell Me What You See. In the fifth grade, Jaden opted into being homeschooled, so she could pursue music and not have to attend classes. In between legs of her tour, she will usually spend some of the day finishing schoolwork online, then practicing guitar and producing music into the late hours of the night for her independent electronic project, Preliminary Malfunction.
Her story explains that being different has never been easy, but as you get older, you will realize that there’s nothing more important than being yourself.
Words of Wisdom from Jaden:
“Stand up for yourself. No matter what that entails. Don’t take it.”