In May of 2020, Travis Barker’s label DTA announced its first signee: a relatively unknown artist named jxdn. Since then, the rising rocker scored two top 10 hits on the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, opened for Machine Gun Kelly on tour and became a key player in pop-punk’s next wave.
But now, after a particularly trying few years – during which his best friend Cooper Noriega died of an accidental drug overdose, he struggled with his own mental health and ultimately entered rehab this summer – the artist is ready for his fresh start.
In July, he returned to social media after a brief hiatus, captioning a fresh-faced smiling selfie: “I finally feel like Jaden Hossler so that’s who I’m going to be.” In September, he announced his new single “Chrome Hearted” to be released under his full name for the first time. The single is not only a reintroduction, but also a redirection for the artist, as the trap-pop song more prominently features his vocals than previous singles and steps away from the punk and rock roots through which he launched his career.
“I’ve always wanted to be a pop star,” says Hossler while sipping chamomile tea (since prioritizing his sobriety, he’s cut out caffeine). “And I think I couldn’t be the pop star without being the rockstar that I was.”
And while his rockstar persona led Hossler to career highs, it also paved the way for personal lows. He recalls his breaking point this summer, when he “lost it” in London just before he was about to go onstage with MGK. Instead, he booked a ticket home and soon after checked himself into a treatment center for his mental and physical health as he battled anxiety, depression and addiction.
“This past year has been by far the hardest time of my life…and it’s all finally catching up to me,” wrote Hossler in a June Instagram post. “I am trusting my gut that this will put me in the best possible position to be who I want to be, feel how I want to feel and go where I want to go.”
When we meet in mid-July at the Sherman Oaks staple Sweet Butter Kitchen, it’s only been a couple of weeks since he finished his 21-day treatment – and it’s clear his manifesto held strong. Hossler wrote “Chrome Hearted” before entering rehab, saying “I think it was a big reason why I felt comfortable going, because I felt like I had a glimmer of hope. Like I wasn’t coming out to nothing.”
“I wasn’t coming out having to change everything, I had already started this process for myself,” he continues. “And if I came out of rehab and just wanted to drop all of it, I could. But being in rehab and leaving rehab, I felt even more [confident] about it. This song was really the first moment where I was proud of myself again in a really, really long time. And it felt the same way as soon as I got out.”
“Jaden has always had pop tendencies in his music, so it felt like a natural evolution,” says Johnny Minardi, SVP of A&R at Elektra (through which DTA signed a joint venture). “It’s been super exciting for me to witness Jaden’s [growth] both as an individual and as an artist.”
Below, Hossler opens up about his year of change, revealing what encouraged his reintroduction and why he finally feels like the artist, and person, he was always meant to be.
How did the idea for “Chrome Hearted” come about – and why was this the right song to venture more into pop music with?
I’ve been playing with pop for about a year, but I could never find the right sound. It was either too bubble gummy or just didn’t feel like me – I really wanted to find a sound of my own. I’ve always leaned towards ballads, but then I was like, “I want to make [a song] that is uplifting and could go on radio.” I kind of got obsessed with [luxury brand] Chrome Hearts at the time so it came into my mind to use it as an adjective. I had this melody and as soon as I sang it, I was like, “This is gonna be one of my biggest songs.”
We [Hossler and songwriter-producer Andrew Goldstein] made a demo of the hook in 15 minutes. I was showing everybody – I even went up to the president of Elektra, Greg [Nadel], because we were at the Blink-182 concert, and I was like, “I just wanted to let you know I just made a hit.” Once we finished the song, I woke up the next morning and [Greg] called me, my A&R called me, my manager and everyone called me, and they were like, “Holy shit, you were right.” I’ve really struggled with trusting my instincts over the past two-three years, especially when Cooper died, I felt like I lost my identity. And this was the first time where I trusted myself, so that was the start of this whole new process for me.
There’s a bit of attitude to “Chrome Hearted,” which is very different from your prior single “Elevated Heartbreak.”
I kind of wanted to talk my shit a little bit, you know what I mean? I haven’t really shown off my voice as much as I could because of the style of music I was making. This song isn’t the focus track of my album or anything – I’m working on my album separately – but this song is to let everyone know, “Hey, I’m Jaden Hossler now.” It felt like a complete 180 shift, but still felt like me.
Some of the lyrics are a little pointed, like “you don’t hold me down, you just watch me drown” and “she’s so obsessed with herself.” As someone who launched their career online, how do you deal when fans want to know who or what your music is about?
I kind of love it because now I’m in a position where I don’t really care. I think it’s awesome to leave it up to the interpretation of the listener because even when I listen to music I’m like, “What is this about?” I do the same thing. People want a story associated with it. But that’s the best part, a little bit of a mystery. Before, I thought I had to put everything on the table for people to accept me. Now I feel very different. I feel very confident and secure in who I am and my story.
It’s also important to not only have but protect your private life.
And I never understood that. And I haven’t really had one. Especially with social media and TikTok. It’s overtaken everything, and some people lean into it, but I know why they do, it’s because either side hurts. Either side is very invasive and anxiety-ridden and I just am not dealing with that anymore.
Is “Chrome Hearted” indicative of what your next album will sound like?
I haven’t completely put my project together but I made 25 songs, so my plan is to make around 40 and pick from there. I’m itching to make music. That’s all I can do right now. I’m genuinely obsessed with it, which is such a good feeling because for a while I just wasn’t in the studio. I wasn’t really present.
I’m reaching far and wide on the landscape of pop music and trying to center it on my voice. And more than that, center the songs on my story. I feel like I’ve been through a lot of shit and I really want to talk about it. It’s cool for me to express myself in a lot of different ways. It’s a lot of trap-pop, there’s an 80s pop vibe, like The Weeknd, which is really cool. And then R&B, these past few weeks I’ve been making a lot of SZA and Bryson Tiller [inspired] songs. This album’s gonna be a conglomeration of a few different sounds, I never want to put myself in a box again.
The Weeknd recently told W Magazine he wants to kill off his artist character. Do you see your own shift being as dramatic?
Oh it’s incredibly dramatic for me. When I decided to be jxdn, I just wanted to be anything but Jaden Hossler because I couldn’t live with myself from high school and my past. I felt like there was an opportunity to be someone different, and quite literally it was. And a lot of amazing things came from being jxdn, but then there’s a point where the pendulum comes back and I hit that wall of, “I can’t be this person anymore.” I’ve come to terms with all my trauma and all the things that I’ve hated about myself before and all my insecurities. That’s why I’m proud to be Jaden Hossler. I think it’s gonna be the key to open the door for everything that I’ve been dreaming of my entire life.
What is that dream?
I watched Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, when I was nine years old. I can see it clear as day, I was sitting in front of my parents bed and I just started bawling my eyes out throughout this documentary. I saw myself on the stage like he was. And so that was the beginning of manifesting that entire journey for myself. And that night I literally went and found a camera in my house, put on purple because that was his color, and started singing. That was the first time I realized I had a voice. I [always] knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know who I was. Having both is very important.
Who are some other pop stars you’re a fan of?
I didn’t listen to Taylor Swift really at all my entire life but recently I’ve been listening to her because she’s such an amazing writer. And listening to these different styles of music, I have a lot to learn. I’m excited about that. So I listen to anyone and everyone that I can right now, it’s almost like I have homework. There’s this guy named Brakence who I really love. Olivia Rodrigo is amazing; I love “Vampire.” Funny enough, I never listened to the radio before, but I listen to the radio a lot now because I want to see what they’re playing. I want to understand, because as much as people don’t want to believe, it is sort of an algorithm. And so I want to infiltrate it and then fuck everything up.
And Travis [Barker] has always been so supportive of what I want. He’s always believed in me, even when he really had no reason to. And so that’s really the biggest blessing, is to be able to have someone like him that no matter what I do, he backs me because he knows that I’m doing this for the right reasons.
How did the rollout of “Chrome Hearted” compare to previous releases?
I directed my first music video, which is pretty cool. I’m more invested in this project than I’ve been in anything else. Also, I’m fully sober. I thought that I would be less creative before I got sober, but I’m more creative than I’ve ever been in my life. Like, I needed sobriety to fulfill my dreams, and I never knew that.
In a weird way, it almost feels like restarting. Right now, I’m not thinking about 10 years down the line, because one of the things about being sober is trying to be present, but I do know that I’m building a career that’s lifelong.
What did you learn in rehab that you’re still implementing in your daily life now?
It’s the structure that I miss the most. The waking up, making your bed, going to breakfast. I eat three meals a day now, minimum, and I ate one meal every two days before. And obviously it has to do with sobriety, but even more so I meditate, I do things that actually help me throughout the day, that no matter if anything else changes, I have that structure, and that’s what I got to take from the treatment center.
I don’t drink caffeine because I know that if I start drinking caffeine enough it gives me anxiety, and then that anxiety makes me want to smoke, and that makes me want to drink. Little things that make a big difference.
Leading up to this reintroduction, why was it so important to be open about how you ended up here?
People like to talk about the story of starting from nothing and getting to the top. But there’s another story that I think a lot of people can resonate with: I started from nothing and I got success and then I lost myself in that success. I got lost in even good things, too much of anything can kind of turn you the wrong way, but it’s never too late to be who you really want to be, it’s never too late to make a change for yourself. I chose not to give up on myself. I’m here to remind people that you control what happens now and what happens next. And I’m really grateful for that. I feel like this is the start of a brand new life for me.
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