By Amaris Pollinger
Think of a time when you felt out of place. You tried everything and anything to melt into the background with everyone else, but they pushed you out. You desperately tried not to be an inconvenience, but no matter what, someone was, or is, uncomfortable with you. It could be anything. Your looks, your body type, your sexuality, gender. Overcoming that feeling is what Jackie June’s new single, “Falling Apart,” is all about.
When June sent me “Falling Apart,” I was in the midst of, well, falling apart.. I was questioning my worth and what I’d do if I couldn’t conform to someone else’s expectations. And until she reads this, Jackie June has no idea that her single brought me back to life. It was the kick I needed to get back to me, and before hearing June belting out, “I’m so uncomfortable, trying to keep you comfortable,” I was in the throes of forgetting who I was. That’s a scary place to be. It’s quite telling of the artist, too, when they can pull you out of the void, shake you up, and remind you WTF you are (“I’m a bad bitch!” #inventinganna).
Over the past year, this New Jersey singer released a tribute EP to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of The Spirit Room by Michelle Branch, one of June’s many idols. “Falling Apart” will be her first original release in some time, as she’s been preoccupied with her mental health, specifically dealing with body image and an eating disorder. While Jackie June has always struggled with these things, it got progressively worse in the last ten years. As everyone locked down into their homes in 2020, June sought help. She’s been on the road to recovery ever since.
It was around her first treatment that June wrote the concept for “Falling Apart.” The song’s subject matter is still difficult for her to navigate, and the song was not easy for June to write. Still, she knew it was a step in the right direction and her goal is to produce honest work so other people don’t feel alone. “I felt like I was breaking into little pieces but instead of taking the easy way out, I realized I needed to take the time to put myself back together in order to heal,” June confesses.
Jackie June’s work is always uplifting and positive, yet poignant. “Afterglow” was a transcending, infectious pop song inspired by 2020 madness—and hope. That’s kinda June’s thing, besides doing her best to speak her truth. Like “Afterglow,” “Falling Apart” is influential, positive, and upbeat despite its darker subject matter. While I loved “Afterglow,” June’s new single is, in my opinion, her best work yet.
One of Jackie June’s stellar qualities is her ability to take a serious topic and turn it on its head by creating a fun, empowering pop song. This isn’t exactly intentional, but it makes sense. After all, that same songwriting quality reflects who she is as a person.
“I hate being vulnerable,” June laughs. “By taking something serious and making it fun and positive, it really allows me to get the message across without feeling like a downer. I’ve been trying to accept that it’s okay to have bad feelings. We need to accept and respect all the feelings we have, rather than avoid them.”
“Falling Apart” was shelved by Jackie June as she struggled to find the right words beyond, “I’m falling apart in all the right places/I’m taking my time to find the right pieces.” It wasn’t until the summer of 2021 after she heard (and loved) April Rose Gabrielli’s debut solo, “Do You?” that June found what she was looking for. June reached out to Gabrielli in search of the song’s producer, who turned out to be Gabrielli herself, along with her partner, KULICK. June then traveled to work with the couple at their studio in Pennsylvania. Together, they built out the rest of the song from June’s original chorus. “Falling Apart” might be June’s personal ode, but the trio constructed the song in such a way so that it would resonate with everyone, no matter what their struggle might be.
“I couldn’t have picked a better team,” says June. “They are incredibly talented artists and amazing human beings.”
Gabrielli and KULICK then connected June with director and cinematographer, Tom Flynn, who was responsible for Gabrielli’s music video, “Do You?” Flynn’s video reel resume includes iconic bands like All That Remains and Lamb of God. So when Flynn got back to June with his visual concept for “Falling Apart,” it’s no surprise that she was blown away. “Not only is it whimsical and fun,” says June, “but [it] really told the story I was trying to get across. Flynn killed it!”
The accompanying music video for “Falling Apart” is just as poignant, yet lighthearted as the song itself. A masked character stumbles awkwardly with a group of friends, unable to conform, and is therefore out of place. The video concludes with our masked friend discovering a whole new, like-minded group, and realizing that there is a place for everyone. You just need to find it.
I asked June if she had found her place, like the character in the video. But when it comes to her body image and eating disorder, June says she is still looking for such a place. “Recently, I started a body grievers course,” June comments. “I think that having others in the class with similar experiences will help me feel less alone.”
She opened up about a recent experience that inspired the lyric line, “I’m so uncomfortable, trying to keep you comfortable.” It arose from a conversation between June, Gabrielli, and KULICK.
“I was on a flight recently where the woman next to me complained that I was ‘spilling’ into her seat,” June comments. “I was already sucking everything in, making myself as uncomfortable as possible to avoid that.”
If this wasn’t bad enough, the flight attendant told June she should have purchased both seats or flown first class. “As if that were a simple thing to do financially,” June adds. While the experience was humiliating, it was also eye-opening for June.
“Living in a larger body, while recovering from an eating disorder and living in a world made for smaller bodies is pretty shitty,” June says, “But I’m tired of apologizing for it.”
I ask what Jackie June’s advice might be for anyone struggling like she has, or in general. At first, she isn’t quite sure if she’s the right person to give such advice. And yet… “Shut it all out!” she says confidently. “People will tell you to change so that you can fit in. All you can do is believe in yourself. Have hope and find the right team of people to surround yourself with. Block out the noise.”
“Falling Apart” is a persuasive dose of “Hey this is scary, but you’re doing great! Who cares about the rules” that beats marvelously into your brain. It is absolutely electrifying and arrives just in time for Spring when we’ll all feel the need to break out of our Winter blues. In fact, you should probably blast “Falling Apart” in your car with the windows open or the top down. It’s perfect for that.
Like all art, once Jackie releases “Falling Apart” to the world, it will no longer be just hers. “Falling Apart” will become a ballad for weirdos and other mismatched puzzle pieces that just don’t fit within the rigid confines of Society, and who wants to anyway? Perhaps that’s not quite what Jackie June had in mind, but that’s what “Falling Apart” is. It’s pop perfection that couldn’t have been written at a better time.
Looking towards the future, Jackie June would like to be on the road, touring and playing shows again. But she’s not in any particular rush, choosing, instead, to live one day at a time. Early in our interview, a quote stuck out to me. She said something about the world and life and human emotions that sums up her work perfectly:
“The world isn’t always positive, and life can be hard. However, we can choose how to respond to it all. And I’ve been working very hard to choose positivity and hope.”
Find Tom Flynn on tomflynndirector.com
Cover photo by Chris Fulcher