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Interview: Jillian Jacqueline talks C2C, Reasons, new music and more

We catch up with Jillian ahead of her return to the UK for C2C in March.

Jillian Jacqueline
Credit: Big Loud Mountain

Jillian Jacqueline performed in the UK for the first time last October as part of the first ever Country Music Week.

The rising singer-songwriter wowed UK audiences with her bold lyrics, perfectly crafted songs and endearing personality. In March Jacqueline will be returning to the UK to perform on the Spotlight Stage at C2C: Country to Country at The O2 Arena in London.

Ahead of her return I caught up with Jillian to talk about the momentum she’s gaining in the industry, discuss her plans for new music and to talk to her about getting the recognition she deserves after working so hard for years.

How are you doing?

Good! It’s good to talk to you again.

It seems like only about five minutes ago we were sat down at The Borderline having a chat and here we are months later…

To me it feels like a year! A lot has happened. That was such fun.

Since we last spoke, things are really building for you. Congratulations on your late night debut…

Thank you so much. Man, that was fun. It was definitely a very incredible first. I was a little nervous but my band was great. My whole family showed up because they all live in New York so I got to see all of them and it was so much fun.

What kind of reaction did you get after the performance on social media from your fans?

Man it was overwhelming! It was kind of like everybody from my second grade teacher to my friends from high school, to my aunts and uncles…like just random people we’re texting me, emailing me calling me and just congratulating me. I think when people see you on TV it really feels like you’ve come really far so all the people started coming out of the woodwork. It was awesome to hear from so many people. I think the response has been good.

There’s always this misconception with artists that you recorded the song yesterday then went on TV to perform it. You’ve actually taken years to get to this stage. What kind of feeling did you have about hitting this milestone?

It’s hard to put into words honestly… it’s overwhelming. The other day when I was about to go on TV, it suddenly hit me all at once. You don’t really stop to think about it along the way, you’re just sort of working really hard and putting your head down and trying to do your best. It’s moments like that when you’re like ‘oh wow this has been a journey of blood, sweat and tears’. It kind of hit me all at once and it was just a proud moment for sure.

I’m loving the new video for Reasons. It has a very Wes Anderson feel to it and it’s very funny. You co-directed the video so tell me a little bit about how it came together…

I did, yes! I had so much fun with this video man. It was like a dream come true for me to get to kind of dive in and create this. Luckily my director is a good friend of mine so he was immediately asking me what I wanted and what I was looking for. We weren’t quite sure in the beginning how to approach the song with the video and then I just sort of got hit by this inspiration and lightning bolt. I realized, ‘you know what, I want to make this look like some of my favourite movies and sort of give the song a humorous twist and a lighter sort of quirky element’. The song is talking about a pretty intense break-up subject but I thought it would be really cool to use the video as a way to give people a whole other dynamic on the song. We had a ton of fun with it.

Reasons is a song that you’ve been living with for a while now. How does it feel to finally be taking it to Country radio as your debut single?

It’s taught me a lot. This whole process of being on a radio tour has taught me so much about how long it takes to actually get a song out on radio. As you know we released this song last year so we’ve been out on Spotify and iTunes and all that stuff, and people have discovered it in their own way. This coming week is the official add date for the song so for me it’s just sort of a sigh of relief that now we can actually say it’s officially out. We can see what it does on Country radio and hopefully get the word out there more. Regardless it’s been an amazing, amazing response so far to the song so I’m excited to see what it does at radio. I’m also just really glad that we’ve given it all this time to live and that people to find it on their own.

The way you rolled out your singles and Side A has obviously worked because because there’s a real buzz around you at the moment. Are you aware of how much that’s building?

Yes and no. Sometimes I feel like, ‘oh OK wow this is really cool people are paying attention’ but most of the time I don’t notice (laughs) because I feel like I’m surrounded by other artists that do what I do and so I always feel like I’m hearing about them. The way it probably looks on the outside. it doesn’t necessarily feel that way but I will say I feel an incredible amount of support from my peers and from general music lovers. That’s the great thing about social media that you can see in real time people tweeting about listening to the song and seeing it on TV. That does make me feel like, ‘OK there are people out there that the songs are resonating with’ and of course that’s what I want.

After you were here for Country Music Week so many people mentioned that you were one of their favourite artists they discovered over that whole week…

Wow that’s awesome!

You’re going to be back for C2C in March and there’s a lot of anticipation for your return. How excited are you to come back for C2C?

I don’t even know how to put that into words (laughs) because it was so much fun. It was probably one of my favourite things (performing at Country Music Week) I’ve ever gotten to do. Meeting you and everyone else over there who were so kind. They were really interested in the music and I wasn’t expecting that. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. It was just an overwhelming response for me and the fact that people knew the words really blew me away. I am ten times more excited this time to come back because I know that there’s people over there that really enjoy what I do and I’m just super excited. I can’t wait!

Jillian Jacqueline

Credit: Big Loud Mountain

I was looking at your touring schedule and you’re going to be busy this year! You’ve got the White Wine and Whiskey Tour with Jordan Davis and then some dates with Thomas Rhett before joining Brett Eldredge’s tour. How do you prepare for such a gruelling schedule?

That’s a really good question (laughs). Right now I’m just flying by the seat of my pants so I honestly don’t look at my calendar much because I don’t really want to overwhelm myself with all the details. Usually I check it the morning of and just see what I’m doing today because that helps me not get too overwhelmed. It’s going to be a crazy spring.

I’m so excited because for me the best part of my job is getting to actually play shows and meet people after the shows and hear their stories. I was so thankful that we were added to the Brett tour and Thomas’s tour. Jordan is a good friend of mine. He’s kind of in the same boat that I am with getting on radio so I feel like we’re going to be introducing ourselves to people together and I love that. I couldn’t be more excited. Somehow we’re fitting in C2C and I’m going to be doing a couple of other really fun things. I’m actually going to do Sundance, which is just a really cool film festival. I’m doing that next week in Salt Lake City. Somehow it fits in there and I’m just going to make it work and try to get some sleep in between!

Obviously Reasons is just going to radio now but are we likely to hear any new music this year?

We are talking about that right now. We have always had this idea that we would keep music steadily coming out because I have so much of it to put out there. There is a new song coming in about a month, something kinda special, then we’re going to be releasing more music off of the rest of the record in the spring. There’s going to be tons of details about the full album coming very soon. So yes you’ll be getting these new music very shortly and I’m excited for you to hear it.

Did I see on your Instagram Stories that a vinyl release is coming soon?

There is! Yeah, you’re really paying attention! There is a vinyl coming soon and we’re going to be talking about that on social media very soon so stay tuned. I can’t wait.

Have you started to think about maybe coming back to the UK to do some headline shows?

Of course that’s always at the top of the list, just because of how great it was to be there for the last trip. My whole team and I’ve been talking about how to get the whole band over there and be able to spend a substantial amount of time, make it work financially and all that stuff. That is definitely on the radar. I don’t have details yet but hopefully soon we can make that happen.

EF Country named Side A as one of the best Country releases of 2017. Your music has been picked up by a lot of influential publications and championed. What’s it like to be getting that kind of recognition from these huge publications?

It’s honouring, it always is. It’s really flattering and obviously for me one of the most important things, and something that I really appreciate, is respect from my peers. Whenever I hear that it really makes me feel like, ‘OK I’m hopefully doing something right’. As far as Rolling Stone and Billboard and all these great publications, it’s always an honour to be recognised by the best in the business as doing something worthwhile that has value. I’m always flattered and thankful when they when they write about my music.

One of the things that I’ve been particularly pleased to see is that people are talking about your lyrics, which is something we’ve discussed at length before. That must be rewarding as a songwriter to get that recognition?

Yeah for sure it is because I’m so particular about them and I spend a lot of time analysing the lyrics and making sure that they say exactly who I am and what I want to say. When I realised that people are really listening and paying attention, and listening to the choices that I’ve made lyrically – the things I choose not to say and the things I choose to say – it makes me feel like my presentation is resonating with people. I’m super stoked that people are gravitating toward that conversation about about how I present my story and how I tell people who I am. Thank you for recognising that, it’s awesome.

Do you think that 2018 might finally be the the turn of the tides when it comes to women being heard on the radio?

Yeah I do. I have full faith that it will. I’ve been noticing when I’m out here on the road, I feel like that conversation comes up a lot. It mostly comes up with the intent to change the way it is now. I have no doubt that that’s going to be shifting very soon.

What are your goals for 2018?

My goals are to meet as many people that love my music as I can… as many of them as I can and look them in the eye and hear their stories and tell them that I appreciate them. That’s definitely a huge goal. At the end of this year it would be really amazing to have my own bus and be able to say that I’m full-time touring. I can hopefully support bringing the band out with me full-time because right now it’s sometimes a band and sometimes it’s so we’re just hoping to get to the next step where I can always have my band with me. That is a huge goal. To release all the music and just get the whole record out. I cannot wait for people to hear it.

Jillian Jacqueline’s EP Side A and new single Reasons are available to stream and download now. Jillian will perform as part of C2C: Country to Country at The O2 Arena in London from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th March 2018.

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