Jacquie Lee takes control of her sound back from the music industry

After being coached by Christina Aguilera on “The Voice,” Jacquie Lee was thrown into the music industry ever since her season concluded in late 2013.

Today she’s here to talk about the immense pressures she’s faced to compromise herself to sell out without being true to her music and sound. She’s finally taken back the wheel and has just put out her first single “Am I the Only One,” which highlights the lows she’s been feeling the past few years battling back and forth with herself and the people mandating what she can and cannot do.

What are you here to tell us about today?

I’ve spent the last year and a half developing my sound and just living life, but now the first single is finally out!!! “Am I the Only One” is the first song off the EP I’ve been working on. I wrote and lived through every song on it and am finally able to have complete control over what I create and release. It’s all me. There’s a lot more on the way. More music, more visuals, videos, etc., all coming this year.

It seems like you’ve been through a lot on your journey through the music industry. Have their been bridges burned? What kinds of things did you not agree with that made you leave your old label?

I wouldn’t say any of my bridges are burned. I’m not the type of person to ex anyone out of my life completely. But there have been relationships that have fallen apart. The biggest issue was that I wanted to have my own voice and write my own shit. I didn’t know exactly what my sound was at the time but I knew I was a writer/ artist and not just a pop vocalist off a reality TV show that people could use as a vehicle to make fast money.

I just didn’t agree with the vision people had for me. I felt like I couldn’t be myself and I had no control over anything. It was a dark time but it made me a lot stronger. That time period helped shape me as an artist and a person.

I listened to your single and I seriously got chills, you can really hear you pouring your heart out into every lyric. I feel like kids our age are plagued with anxiety, what are your thoughts on that? 

I feel like there’s so much pressure on our generation and it’s only getting harder. Kids are mapping shit out and looking at what Ivy League they want to attend in like third grade now. I just think that it’s easy to get wrapped up in planning and stressing about insignificant shit. It’s important to remember to live and explore. Try to find yourself and your passion… and to enjoy the journey. In the end the goal is to be happy.

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Can you explain what led you to write this song?

Change. I wrote it when I first moved out to Cali. I just felt super unstable. Music-wise, I wasn’t fulfilled with where I was at. I had also cut ties with one of the closest people in my life and that hurt a lot. I didn’t want to be on my record label anymore. I was tired of feeling like I had no say in my career. My outlet was just crowded with bullshit. I wanted to feel passionate about it again, not depressed.

Choosing to pursue music as a career is obviously not the most stable path- but I have no regrets. I wrote this song when I was feeling anxious about not choosing to go to college like every single one of my friends did. But even so, my friends that went to college still felt/feel lost and uncertain.

The process of writing this song was really therapeutic because almost immediately after I felt at peace. I am not the only one that deals with this shit. We all go through change no matter what phase we’re in and it never gets any easier. We just keep learning and growing as people.

Do you think social media pressure and the digital age has anything to do with that?

YES. YES. YES. First let me start by saying that there are a lot of positives and benefits to social media, like the ability to connect with people. I love that. BUT there are a lot of negatives too.

People post what they want you to see on social media. It’s not a full picture. People have the ability to control what their profile looks like and how they want to be perceived. Most of the time it looks way more lavish than the reality. There is also an added pressure of keeping up with your profile and wanting likes. It’s validation, and it’s so easy to get caught up in that shit and start to let it affect other aspects of your day to day life.

It’s only human to want more, but when is enough, enough? Young kids shouldn’t have to worry about that shit or let it be the foundation of their self worth.  I feel bad for the generation after me because I feel like social media is the root of so many insecurities. Body image, lifestyle, not to mention the fact that people are a lot less filtered with sharing their opinions through a computer screen. It’s addicting and time consuming, it deprives human interaction and strips away a layer of realness we all need more of at this point in time.

How did you break out of the pressure and overcome it? Is there some sort of activity you do that helps you deal with it?

By focusing on what I love: creating music. I think having an escape and a passion is EVERYTHING. Do what makes you happy. Life is too fucking short. Put your mental health first. For me, meditation and working out really play a big role in my life at the moment. I’m obsessed with Barry’s Boot Camp and an app called Headspace.

What advice can you give others that might be going through the same thing?

No matter how bad things may seem in the moment just take a second and breathe. You are not alone. Turn on some music, that’s what it’s there for.

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What are the three things everyone should know about this project?

Everything I wrote about on this project has been based on my own personal journey and perspective.

There are three videos coming out that help visually express my experiences from start to present. I came up with the concepts for all of them and Chris Le directed them. I wanted to work with him ever since I saw his work on Anderson Paak’s video “The Seasons/Carry Me.”

I’m doing the project independently, which has been great because I’ve been able to have more control over the music and creatives. It’s way more authentic and hopefully anyone who listens can relate it to their own personal story.

This is your chance to give anyone in the world a shoutout! Who do you pick and why?

Shout out to my manager Tyler Rutkin and the entire Steel Wool team for being a dope ass company that actually cares about music in this shit industry. And shout out to Chance the Rapper for being an independent artist and running shit yourself. I feel ya.

If you were magically transformed into an animal overnight, what kind of animal would you be and which celebrity would you want to take care of you?

I would like to be D.R.A.M.’s dog. Idnit seems like the SHIT.

What motto did you live by but then realized it didn’t help you?

“That’s future Jacquie’s problem.”

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If you ran for president what would your slogan be? 

“We’re getting there.”

What’s next for you? 

Touring, more music, Grammy’s 😉

You can listen to Jacquie’s single “Am I the Only One” HERE

Photography by Justin Jackson

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