FOLLOWING A ROCKY START TO 2015 THE CHICAGO MUSICIAN IS SET FOR STARDOM.
On a cold winter afternoon in February, we visit singer/songwriter/artist, Jean Deaux, on the South Side of Chicago, past Hyde Park and into miles of potholes and struggling neighbourhoods. Her apartment is empty and quiet. The heat is out at the moment, so she wraps herself in a blanket with the space heater on as high as it will go. Jean has a great deal to say, so we listen as intently as possible as the words tell her story.
During our hour-long conversation, she speaks on everything from a recent life-changing incident to plans for the release of ‘Soular System Vol. 2’. But to start off the interview, Viper asks how the year’s been treating her. “I had a pretty rough beginning of the year,” she starts. “The third day of January, I got super depressed and I attempted to off myself. I try to be honest about a lot of stuff. It’s the only way that I’m gonna get over it. It was definitely a life-changing experience.”
“It wasn’t funny or humorous to me,” she continues, “but it’s actually kind of ironic because I purposefully hid my ID and they brought me into the hospital as Jane Doe.” Despite the Jean Deaux / Jane Doe coincidence (it’s pronounced John, the French way), she wasn’t at a point in her life where she could laugh. “I felt like I had hit rock bottom but I had been looking to hit rock bottom for a while. I thought it was proper to put the tape out at the end of December because it was the soundtrack to the year that I had. I didn’t want to take ‘Dark Matter[s]’ to the new year.”
Although Jean has been releasing music since 2012, it wasn’t until December of 2014 that she released her debut project, ‘Soular System Vol. 1: Dark Matter[s]’. Covering emotional topics like heartbreak and depression, it was an intimate look into the life of a teenager with a lot riding on her voice and her words. The story featured backdrops by Childish Gambino affiliate, Tim Suby, as well Chicago talents, THEMpeople and Donnie Trumpet of Chance The Rapper’s Social Experiment.
“So yeah, the first three days of the year sucked,” she says. “I spent the next three days admitted. I had to admit myself to the psychiatric ward and be placed on suicide watch. I went to this group, it was just me and this other guy, and we basically did this music listening group. [We were] just playing a lot of mainstream music but they were cool songs that I can see why people like, like ‘Fireworks’ by Katy Perry and ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ by Lauryn Hill and ‘Waterfalls’ by TLC.”
“The other guy in the group,” she continues, “he was just talking about how low he felt and how he felt that God had turned his back on him. Very deep and dark, poetic things. I was listening and really tearing up. I told him to give my tape a listen – even though it was the worst time of my life, I could reach out to someone and do that. I’ll never know if he listened to it or not, but I really couldn’t give him anything else other than the gift of music.”
Now that almost two months have passed since her dark matter grew darker, she is back in her South Side apartment, living with her boyfriend and planning for the future: she will turn 20 this year. I ask if she’s in a better place? “After all of that, things started getting better. I think everybody started to realise how much I need support even though I’m so independent. I moved out when I was eighteen. I’ve been completely on my own for two years. It’s not easy but a lot of people thought that since I was independent and making music, they thought I was rich. When I was in that hospital, I was ashamed of myself, but people started to understand how serious it is. It’s scary to think about because now, when I think about all the good stuff that’s happened, I could have missed out because I gave up. That’s important for other people to know. I didn’t just go through some Lifetime movie depression. That shit was real to the point that I convinced myself to not want to be here anymore. It’s scary because you’re your own worst enemy.”
Jean mentions that her manager and close friend resigned shortly before her sobering hospital visit. Naturally she was crushed, but as she wasn’t in charge of her business/inquiry email account, she was disconnected from feedback. “A few weeks ago, I started reading through all these emails from people around the world. [Fans] who like my music, people who wanted features, who wanted to book me for shows and festivals and a lot of stuff that I not only missed out on, but had never seen. Part of that depression was me being like, ‘What if my music is not what everybody is telling me it is?’ I wanna create and that’s what I’m meant to do. To see those emails after all these months, I just wished [my manager] would have shared those with me.”
Now that things are looking up and the braces are coming off, what’s the rest of her year looking like? “I wanna go on tour,” she begins. “I wanna apply for the Red Bull Academy at the end of the year and I wanna go out of the country. I wanna go play somewhere. I already got emails about booking tours across the country.” She continues, “I’m working on volume two of the tape, which is the soundtrack of this year. I want it to be yin and yang. I’m telling a story. It’s the story of my life and not only the dark parts of it, but the fun and the joy of it. It’s art so I’m going to try to make it very dramatic and eventually put the story all together. ‘Soular System’ is going to be a two-part series, it’s gonna have the dark matters and it’s gonna have the rebirth. My rebirth. Being awake again. We go through cycles of getting used to the circumstances and we not only acknowledge but we accept change. We’re constantly being reborn. I think every year that I’m getting older, I’m realising more and more stuff that held me back the year before. And that’s what you should be doing. I have to change. I’m still learning.”
This is an extract from the Spring Summer 15 Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.
Words by Ben Niespodziany
Photos by Nosidam.