“Accepting who you are is a beautiful thing, even if it’s a lowkey confession of how messed up you are.” — LACES
Like bubble gum before it pops, ‘Almost Happy’ is fresh and sweet. It recalls our favorite indie songs from the 90s while referencing the conscious and clever songwriting of today. Touches of keys and electric guitar follow the vocal melody, making it feel even more tangible; like we’re getting a taste of who the artist LACES – moniker of Jessica Vaughn – is in her everyday.
‘Almost Happy’ is pensive, winding like a canyon, yet focused merely on the path in front of you. It’s only appropriate that Vaughn’s old road buddy, Butch Walker, plays electric guitar on the track. “Butch took me on my first tour. I was 19 and petrified! He was always supportive, kind, and a total rock star. To have Butch share this song with me in this stage of my life is a full circle moment.”
‘Almost Happy’ is, metaphorically, like analog recordings from the 90s: raw, honest, no filter. Musing on where LACES is in her life today, we catch echoes of her past within the song, lingering like fuzz on a VCR tape. But it’s all about the journey, not the destination; right? So true happiness, LACES tells us, is being rooted and grounded wherever you are.
A certified ‘head bitch’, Vaughn has had a decorated career in the music industry, writing gems of truth for other artists as well as herself, and managing a sync licensing company. Read below to find out more about this intelligent, moving super-creative.
Happy is by definition “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” Yet many people choose to reframe the idea of chasing happiness into something more sustainable or achievable. What does the word “HAPPY” genuinely mean to you?
Happy has always felt like this fairy tale that is not based in reality. Happiness to me is loving myself and feeling stable. I’ve always liked the saying “my feet are on the ground” – if you’re rooted or feel rooted – that to me is happiness.
‘Almost Happy’ has a bubbly, uplifting vibe, even if happiness isn’t your goal. What do you feel when you listen to the song now?
It feels like an honest conversation with a good friend – like yes I am good, I’m stable, but here are some of the takeaways. Clearly, I’m a little jaded and beat up but I’m alive and I’m giving myself permission to show up as I am. That’s better than happy – that’s a love letter.
“Would they say I faked my way to the middle?” What does that line mean to you?
This is my favorite line in the song for some reason. It resonates in the deepest part of me and the darkest parts of my humor. Like, look Ma I made it… to the middle of success – to the middle class – to the very elite middle management of the music industry. It feels like an entertainment inside joke but you have to be in it to get it.
Love the song, girl. It takes me BACK. But I don’t like to assume genre or anything: why did you choose to populate your instagram with photos from your childhood leading up to the release of ‘Almost Happy’?
The last time I can remember being truly “happy” was in the 90s. The song is a comment on where I am, where I was, and where I’m headed. I felt like I wanted to celebrate my favorite decade and thank it for inspiring the song while also looking back at how I got to this place in time. Sometimes you can’t move forward without looking back.
Why did you want Butch Walker on this track?
Butch is a LEGEND! When I was on tour with him at 19 years old – I was in AWE. He’s one of the best live performers I have ever encountered. It’s truly an honor to watch him. He’s been in the business for so long and is such a 90s hero to me. I knew I wanted a guitar solo on the track and I couldn’t think of a better person to lend their shredding skills. I am hashtag blessed or whatever the kids are saying these days.
Anything else you want to share with us about the track?
I feel like this song is a departure from what I normally release, but at the same time… this is the most me I’ve ever been. This song reflects who I am in my day to day life and I’m so excited to share that side of myself with everyone. It’s about time!
Being a Head Bitch is simple for women – we’re superheroes. But no one said it was easy! How do you compartmentalize your creative and your boss self? Are they the same person? How do you switch between modes?
Women are superheroes for sure!
I feel like both sides can’t exist without the other. If I’m only creative, I feel like something is missing and vice versa. I think business Jessie is more cutthroat than creative Jessie, but I lean on both sides to move our business forward to the best of my ability. We could all do better with more empathy and a little more strategy. I don’t want to separate those sides of myself, because I can be both and after all… this is the business of art.
You are so supportive of your community of women, songwriters, and creators. Who has encouraged you in your life? What did they do for you?
My husband leads with empathy and passion for creators. He has given me a safe place to be myself and explore. He inspires me to do better and we both have committed to disrupting and changing the industry. He was my drummer and best friend for years when I really felt lost. I wasn’t sure there was a place for me in music. He never let me give up, always believed me, created opportunities, and told me to just do the work and stay out of the results. I know I am a boss bitch, but I credit finding my voice and my strength to his unwavering belief in the boss bitch he knew I was and could be.
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photos / courtesy of the artist
story / Ari Tibi