Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's new home for exclusive music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
Jillian Jacqueline is part of the next generation of country music stars. Jacqueline, 29, makes music that doesn't necessarily fit snugly into the definition of "country music." Country is bursting at the seams these days, and Jacqueline is one of a brave new group of artists extending beyond its reaches.
"I think with all the media platforms people use to find music, the industry is realizing that there's a whole slew of fans out there that might not even identify as country fans," Jacqueline told Refinery29 over the phone.
The Nashville-based artist presents as 100% country, but her storytelling goes beyond the traditional narratives. Her single "Reasons," her first on her 2017 album Side A, explores the period of desperate rationalization that occurs when two people really need to breakup. Breakups are hard, so it's easier to create reasons to stay together. One such reason provided in the song is that both people will have to tell their parents about the split. (Oof.) Who wants to do that? Better to avoid that awkwardness and just stay together.
To coincide with the release of the "Reasons" music video, and in anticipation of Jacqueline's late night debut, which will happen January 15 on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Refinery29 chatted with Jacqueline about breakups, the future of country, and horoscopes.
Refinery29: “Reasons” covers a sort of relationship purgatory — the place between blissful relationship and successful breakup. Why is this such a rich topic to cover in song?
Jillian Jacqueline: "Yeah, that's actually a perfect word for it — purgatory. I haven't used that one to describe it yet, but it's very accurate. I really had no choice with that, because it was something I went through, that particular experience in a relationship, which actually only ended last year. It was this huge hiccup in my life right before I was about to sign my record deal. That song just became my therapy for what I was going through. It was one of those things where I was admitting the truth in the song before I could even admit it to myself."
The story is sort of unfolded as these vignettes of what I was living. It actually came from a real place, but what I liked about it was that we married it with this buoyant, fun track. And it becomes something you want to sing along to. So, it sort of catches you off guard. You feel the song and how it feels, and then you feel the lyrics. The juxtaposition of really tough situation with something that feels like fun — you put it on in your car and you can actually sing to it when you're driving down the road. To me, that was real. You don't want to cry about [a breakup], you just want to move on."
Yeah, the video also has a sense of humor about it.
"It does, for sure. I'm a Wes Anderson fan and I love quirky films. I had this dream in my head of turning the song into an art deco film. It has a sense of humor through the vignettes, these scenarios taking lines from the song and interpreting them quite literally. But doing it with a sense of humor. I wanted the video to be an extension of the song and also give new life to it and make it feel a little bit tongue-in-cheek and like we're playing with it a little bit. Because in hindsight, looking at it now, I realize there can be a sense of humor in realizing that you're tiptoeing around the truth with someone and turning into roommates.
We put some funny stuff in there. There was some we put in there that I loved, like [the director] suggested that I pretend to stab my boyfriend in the back of the head with the hairbrush. And it turned out as one of the best scenes."
I appreciate when the sisters in the video point out the couple isn't horoscope compatible.
"I actually do have three sisters as well, so we tried to make it literal in that sense. Anyone who has siblings knows they like to weigh in with their opinions every now and then. So, we toyed with a couple of lines going there. Then at the end, there's just this onslaught of all these different opinions coming at you from the sisters.
My sisters are way into horoscopes, so I thought that would be off-kilter and fun, which speaks to them being a little bit more ethereal about it, not really realizing that it's much more of a fundamentally wrong relationship rather than just that our horoscopes were incompatible. I liked making it a little bit weird in that way."
A lot of your music embraces mistakes and messiness. For starters, there's "God Bless This Mess," and I also feel like "Reasons" is a call for self-forgiveness. You sort of have to forgive yourself before you can admit that you've failed at your relationship. Why is this something you've chosen to explore?
"Probably because I don't give it to myself in real life. I think also I always try as a writer to really be both sides of something. That requires giving it some time and processing it correctly. And I don't like to write something until I feel like I've really wrapped my head around both sides of the story. Because I don't ever want to sound biased or judgemental of someone, especially the partner that I've chosen to spend five years of my life with. So, for me, 'Reasons' was a way of owning up to the fact that it takes two. You know, sometimes you both make mistakes. For me, it's self-forgiveness, but it's also forgiving the other person, and saying, 'I know that neither one of us is perfect.'"
It feels like country music is in the middle of a transition. What do you think is the future of country music?
"I think the future of country music is extremely broad. I think it's really exciting and it's adventurous. I've seen some incredible solo artists that I've known for a few years now in Nashville come out with very unique sounds. I've seen those people getting play on radios, where in the past that might not have been the case. So, the doors are opening a little bit wider, and people are getting interested in fringe artists. I love it because honestly I grew up as a super traditional country music lover. I only listened to what was on the radio. But as the years went on, I was introduced to so many different types of genres. I'm just so grateful that today, anybody that likes my music doesn't even have to identify as a country music lover, they just have to be interested in what I'm making. That's what I'm most excited about."
Watch the full music video for "Reasons," below.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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