Aside from her love for classic pop songs (that she then mutates into something harder and far more eccentric), Jackie’s heritage and geographical upbringing can’t help but increasingly politicise her music. She was raised in San Diego, 10 minutes from the border of Mexico – her motherland. So ‘Loco Flow’ stands out on the EP for addressing the current climate in American politics. “I’m challenging myself to write about different things I care about,” she says, “not just love pop songs. I think it’s a challenge every artist faces: what statements do you want to make and what do you stand for?”
In today’s political climate, amid reports that people are being attacked for speaking Spanish in certain parts of Trump’s America, it could be said that singing in the language is a statement in itself. Jackie says that it isn’t intentionally, but that “it does feel empowering to be in America singing in Spanish when people of all races are being discriminated against.”
As she wrote in a Notion blog, she also wants to be, “a person Latin queer people can relate to.”
She tells me: “I feel like I never really had that example and now I can be an example for anyone who’s like me.” If she’d had such a role model herself, she says, it would have encouraged her to come out at a younger age. “It would have helped her feel less weird or more comfortable. I guess I would have felt like, oh, there’s someone out there that’s like me – I don’t feel so alone.”
This evolution in sound and confidence has been ongoing since she got involved in music in 2013. It was then that she joined dream-pop band Gingerlys, who are currently in the process of re-grouping after the departure of a member. In parallel she launched her solo career so that she could be more experimental.
Her initial self-released tracks were far removed from where she is now, being traditionally structured folk that was performed solo on a ukulele, which is almost unimaginable when you hear ‘LuvHz’. The tiny instrument is still in the mix, apparently, but it’s completely unrecognisable: warped, spacey, and buried in beats that feel almost out of time to other percussive flourishes.
‘De Lejos’ is the track that marks the transition from conventional ukulele to a more electronic sound. “Because in that one I stripped away all the synth-iness and the regular beat,” she says. “Just using little bursts of sound made it more experimental than pop.”
Despite this, she still considers the ukulele to be her key instrument. “I just feel more comfortable writing on it,” she explains. “It’s easier but there’s also room to experiment with it with pedals. I feel it suits my voice really well. It also holds a special place in my heart because I started playing it in middle school.”
School is where Jackie discovered her voice, too, in musical theatre, performing in productions of Hairspray and The Pirates Of Penzance. “I was very, very shy growing up, and that really helped me get more comfortable with myself,” she says. “I think from there I fell in love with performing and making music, singing. And then I thought I don’t have to do this on stage like a play, I can do this on my own.”
Photography by: Tayo Okyekan
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