Skip to main content

photographer: hunter moreno

styling: shabs mohammad

grooming: lovette limones

One of the few certainties in life is that the harder parents try to keep their child away from something, the more likely that child will become obsessed with the forbidden fruit.

Long before jxdn was playing packed stadiums with Machine Gun Kelly, he was simply Jaden Hossler, the son of two pastors being raised in a very religious household. Music was all around him growing up, but in the form of worship CDs his parents would listen to, the kind of music he and his sisters would fall asleep to but never really engage with. There was gospel music in church, there were songs he would overhear on the radio, but growing up he was never able to fully immerse himself in music.

Even without realizing it, there was something building in jxdn’s soul, just waiting to be released. In July 2019, well into his teenage years, jxdn had the type of spiritual awakening his parents preached about from the pulpit. Only it didn’t happen in church, it happened at a Juice WRLD concert.

“I’d never been to a concert before,” jxdn recalls. “It’s so bizarre because, at the moment, I wasn’t thinking anything like, ‘What’s gonna happen after this?’ But that shit just changed my life. I really heard music for what it is that night. I thought, if Juice WRLD can do this for me, then I’ve gotta do this for somebody else. It started this chain reaction.”

Photos by Hunter Moreno

Photos by Hunter Moreno

The experience jxdn had that night attending his very first concert at the age of 18 made him look back at everything that led him to that place. He started to see the facade of a perfect family that his parents had put up, particularly the way that the denial of experiences like going to concerts only pushed him towards them.

When he discusses that first concert and the way it changed his life, it’s easy to forget that it was only three years ago. More than that, it’s hard to believe that jxdn is only 21 as he imparts the wisdom he gained.

“Being involved in religion for a big part of your life shows you a lot of ugly lessons,” he says. “I think music is healing and religiousness isn’t. Religiousness breaks things down while music brings things together. It felt like I was shedding off all the baggage. All this shit that was supposed to tear me down actually turned me into who I am. I respect it and I love it and I appreciate my parents for who they are, even when shit got hard.

“We’re all a bunch of idiots trying to figure out who’s the smarter idiot out here in the world,” he continues. “We all don’t know what we’re doing and eventually you figure that out.”

Photos by Hunter Moreno

Photos by Hunter Moreno

Around the time that jxdn was having his musical awakening he was also struggling with some pretty serious mental health issues. Music was an outlet for him as he was dealing with depression. He found a recognition of his own experience in the lyrics of others, and this created a desire to pay things forward.

When a person thinks about pop-punk the first word to come to their mind is more than likely “fun.” And there is definitely an element of fun in jxdn’s music, particularly when you turn it up to a blistering volume, but when you take a second to listen to the lyrics there is something more there. Take the song “BETTER OFF DEAD,” one of the later songs off of his debut album, “Tell Me About Tomorrow.” The song is led by that bouncing beat that is undeniably the work of Travis Barker (who produced the album and released it on his DTA label) and jxdn’s vocals, delivered with a tinge of innocence as he addresses his own darkness:

“It’s been cloudy with a chance of depression

Broke my heart and I learned my lesson

It’s already over in my head

It’s been cloudy with a chance of anxiety

Can’t keep out the demons inside of me

Maybe I’m just better off dead”

There’s a braveness to baring one’s soul in such a public manner. It’s the sort of thing that not many people are comfortable doing, but because he’s been there himself, jxdn wants to make sure people in the same place know they aren’t alone.

Photos by Hunter Moreno

Photos by Hunter Moreno

“There have been people for me who are like, ‘Stand up, say something, I promise you we’re all going through the same stuff,’” jxdn says. “I just need to be that person [for others]. Music shouldn’t be talking about how to fix mental illness because it’s impossible to fix it in just one way. What we can do is remind people that maybe not everybody has it, but somebody does, and that’s a really comforting thing to feel.

“I’d be stupid not to talk about real things in my life,” he continues. “I think a lot of people are stupid in that and they just write about things they think are relatable as opposed to the things that are relatable to them. That’s something I want to fight and stay away from for the rest of my career, because that just kills music. You have to be authentic. And I think I’ve had a good response with my music because I’m not trying to fake anything.”

Prior to releasing “Tell Me About Tomorrow,” jxdn had made a name for himself on TikTok. He had started posting on the social media platform when he was still in high school back in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After growing up with relatively little money, he saw TikTok as a potential stepping stone to not only achieve fame but to garner some financial security.

He was having fun with it and getting paid, but in his down moments the platform gave him something he needed even more than cash—an endorphin rush. “TikTok was like an escape for me,” he explains. “I just felt really good about the affirmation I was getting because I was so sad my senior year as I was going through a lot of shit. That’s a big reason why anybody does it, and if they tell you differently they’re a bunch of fucking liars.”

Photos by Hunter Moreno

Photos by Hunter Moreno

It would have been simple for jxdn to keep on doing social media as a full-time gig. We’ve seen the amount of money TikTokers can pull in, especially when they have a follower count close to 10 million as jxdn does. But it was never about the money for jxdn, something he brings up multiple times during our conversation.

“In a very real sense, I grew up without money and it’s really nice that I have it now,” jxdn says. “But I promise you it usually just brings more problems. There are definitely physical, tangible things that get easier in life [with money], but the mental aspect of it is just not worth it. Find your value in relationships and in materials that can’t be bought, things that you create and work for.”

Jxdn’s rise up the charts came during the midst of the pandemic. Just like every other aspect of our lives, the music industry worked quite differently and jxdn wasn’t able to follow the usual playbook set out for artists—release an album, then get your ass on the road to promote it. People were listening to the album and loving it, but he wasn’t able to perform it.

When restrictions were lifted, all of the momentum his album had built up suddenly went into hypersonic speed. After a couple of shows to warm up, jxdn played his third show ever on the mainstage of Lollapalooza in front of 40,000 people.

“God, I cried that night,” jxdn says. “I was in the hotel room with my girlfriend and I just started crying. I don’t know if it was a good cry or a bad cry, but I was just so confused by what I had just seen. That’s so many people… fuck that. That confused me for a little bit. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do this.’

“I killed the performance, but it didn’t feel real,” he continues. “These people don’t know me. I was very concerned about how the tour [opening for Machine Gun Kelly] was going to go, but we got to Milwaukee and BOOM! It ripped, I finally felt at home. Obviously I get a lot of anxiety before and after, but onstage is the safest and most calming place in the world.”

Photos by Hunter Moreno

Photos by Hunter Moreno

Jxdn is very fortunate to be surrounded by people who not only want to see him succeed, but who fully understand the surreal experience he’s living day to day. On that first tour, Machine Gun Kelly took him under his wing to guide him through the daily grind of going on tour. The less glamorous side of touring is most often seen when the buses break down, and trust us, it’s not a real tour unless the buses break down at least once. But it was in those moments where the two musicians were able to chill and bond.

And jxdn wouldn’t have even been on that tour if it wasn’t for the guiding hand of Travis Barker. Jxdn was the very first artist to sign to Barker’s DTA Records, an unmistakable endorsement that proved the drummer turned pop-punk mogul believed very strongly in jxdn’s musical future. Barker not only gave jxdn a platform for his music, he also served as a music sherpa to the young musician.

“There are so many different types of punk, and I was so unaware when I first signed with Travis,” jxdn says. “He was telling me, ‘You’re like this clay mold that I can form,’ and I was like, ‘Word, I’m just here to learn.’”

As Barker gave jxdn a crash course in punk—from Finch to the Descendents to the Vamps to the Used and beyond—he also tried to serve as a tattoo mentor. Jxdn has been filling up his canvas at a pretty quick rate, including getting his hands done, a decision he attributes to being “young as hell and so dumb.”

“It’s funny because the whole time Travis is like, ‘Yo, chill. You’re gonna want to get better tattoos,’” he laughs. “And I’m like, ‘Nah, Trav, shut up. I love my tats.’ And now I look at my tattoos and I love them, but I totally could have done better.”

There are two things jxdn is adamant about when it comes to his tattoos. First, he’s not going to be getting any cover-ups. He might blast over some tattoos once he runs out of room, but he doesn’t want to hide any of his, let’s say, less technically excellent tattoos. Secondly, he wants to be covered. Completely covered. “I don’t want anybody to be able to see what my real skin looks like before I die,” he laughs. “And I think I’m going to go bald one day, so I need to make sure to get my head tatted.”

In conversation it’s very easy to forget that jxdn is only 21 and that his journey, both with tattoos and with music, has really just begun. He has plans. Big plans. And we’re not talking about becoming the next big pop-punk superstar, we’re talking about societal change.

Photos by Hunter Moreno

Photos by Hunter Moreno

“I want to change pop radio, I think pop radio is bullshit right now,” he says. “People are going to get mad, but what are we trying to say? As a country, as a world, there’s a lot of shit that we’ve swept under the rug recently, and I feel like music is the only thing that ever gets anybody [on the same page]. The thing I noticed at that Juice WRLD concert was 10,000 people singing the same song and I’m like, name one other thing that will get people to do that, and there’s literally nothing.

“I don’t think we’re going to fix everything with music, necessarily,” he continues. “But it’s going to start a change.”

Jxdn’s parents tried to instill their faith into him while protecting him from the world, to which he naturally rebelled. But the two pastors did manage to pass on a profound sense of empathy to their son. That empathy, that desire to connect with people, is what motivates jxdn every day. Pop-punk music is the platform he’s chosen to convey his message, but make no mistake, it’s the message that is most important to him.

“I rage and lose my shit more than anyone I know, I love having fun,” jxdn says. “But I’m here for a reason. I was put here to lead the lost souls. That’s what Juice WRLD’s music did for me, and I feel like that’s what I’m here to do with my music for other people. Genuinely, there’s no other reason I’m here.”