Following her set at Corona Electric Beach’s Volleywood Chicago, we spoke to Jack Novak on her artistic reinvention and finding her voice.
Hey Jack! I’m loving your new sound—what prompted you to switch things up?
That’s a good question! It was a lot of things. I grew up going to shows. On the weekend it was raves, and during the week I was hitting rap, punk rock, and metal shows. I love pop music too. So DJing was a natural thing for me—I could mix in whatever I liked and gather influence from every genre in my sets. Then I went through a rough year —I got sued by my old manager for half a million dollars and couldn’t hire a new manager, which left me so depressed. I felt like I had worked for so long to get to a certain place, and right when things were starting to really get exciting, it seemed like it was all being taken away from me because I didn’t want to work with someone any longer. I’d go in the studio to make dance music and just wasn’t feeling as connected as I normally did, due to the fact that I was feeling so depressed.
One day, I was hanging out with my good friend Blackbear. No matter what I’m doing or where I’m at, I’m always singing, but it had always been just a joke because I’d never considered myself a good singer. But then he stepped in as an awesome, inspiring friend, and he pushed me to record a song and offered to engineer. I went in there, sang the song, and really wasn’t expecting much other than a good laugh, but when we listened back to it, it actually sounded all right. Slowly but surely I started to gain the confidence that I needed to sing and put my voice out there for the world to hear.
I noticed when I went to meetings and played all my music, people gravitated towards the music that I was singing on the majority of the time. Once I finally got past the whole ordeal with my ex-manager and was able to hire new management and move on, my new management instilled a lot of confidence within me and pushed me to fully pursue pursue my music that I was singing on. The rest is history.
I’ve been working so hard at learning what I like and don’t like in this brand new genre of music, and I finally found a sound that feels 100% me. I can’t wait to release the next single and then my very first project, which is either going to be EP or a full LP—I’m deciding right now.
It’s always scary trying something new and I was really worried about making such a drastic change. Change is scary, but I’m so, so glad I went for it. I’ve never made music that feels so me. For all you dance music lovers out there, I still love to DJ and I still do DJ! Just not as full-time.
Your video for “The Greatest Night of My Fucked Up Life” is amazing and so personal. What were some of the visual inspirations behind it?
That was the first song that I ever wrote once I decided to move forward with the new music. I decided that I was going to take control of what was happening visually with this project, because in the past other people had and I was never fully happy with the way things turned out because it just wasn’t my vision. I’m a very visual person. My life has been pretty damn crazy, and the idea behind the song was just me thinking about a lot of pain that I have been through and crazy shit that I’ve gone through. But at the end of the day, I’ve always been able to find something positive in every situation and latch onto that, which in turn brought me hope. Loving others has taught me a lot about loving myself. The video, which is the first project I’ve ever produced or directed, is about that vibe when you look at someone and say, “Everything is so fucked up, but it’s okay because I have you“.
What’s the most valuable advice you’d pass on to other creatives as a musician and an independent businesswoman?
I’ve actually got a lot of advice that I would give. I should probably do some sort of a blog post or YouTube about all those pieces of knowledge I picked up along the way that could maybe save somebody from a bad situation or wasting time, but then again, you live, you learn. If I had to pick only one piece of advice to pass forward, as corny as this may sound, it would be to stay true to yourself.
You’ll find in the music industry that everybody has an opinion, and people will and try to impose their opinions on you from telling you how your music should sound to what you should look like. In the end, if you take everyone’s advice and don’t listen to your creative vision, you’re not really being honest with yourself or your audience. People won’t connect with you unless you’re really you. People can see through disingenuous art, if you can even call it that. Stay you all the way and never falter, no matter what they say.