When you think of someone struggling with depression or anxiety or being excluded socially, you might picture them lying in bed, isolated and sad — but Jessica Vaughn, also known as Jessy Jones, turned these emotions into a cathartic dance party for her upcoming EP Sad Girl Disco Party. The songs aim to promote self-celebration and finding fun in the midst of difficult situations, especially for those considered outcasts. Her latest single “It’s A Revolution” expresses this spirit with playful instrumentals and invigorating lyrics about triumphing over oppression.
Nineties pop meets blues rock on the three-minute track, which uses a fun, catchy beat to discuss social justice-induced euphoria and the power that comes from standing up for yourself: “Feel it coming a change/A new dawn and a new age/It’s like a rush to the veins.”
“I wanted to touch on the political climate we live in,” she explains. “With the rise in hate crimes, I was starting to feel like you have to ask for permission to be different and that it’s controversial to stand up for your rights. I wanted a song where you could stand in defiance and in your power. It’s a song about the pursuit for equality, inclusion, diversity, and equity.”
Jessy Jones is just one of Vaughn’s many personas. She began her musical career as Charlotte Sometimes, signing to Interscope Geffen A&M Records at age 19 and hitting No. 145 on the Billboard 200 with her debut 2008 album Waves and the Both of Us, featuring poppy hits like “How I Could Just Kill a Man.” Today, she estimates that she has about 25 different monikers, each with its own unique sound and persona.
She also runs custom music house Head Bitch Music, where she records and licenses music for film and television, and works for a music publisher, where she licenses others’ music. Her project JPOLND had a song (“The End“) placed in Bridgerton, while “Moved,” created under the moniker LACES, was featured in Lucifer.
She describes Jessy Jones as her “queer celebration project,” explaining, “I felt like a lot of my projects are a little serious, and I don’t get to show off as much of my playful energy as I’d like.” Sad Girl Disco Party, out August 5, embodies this energy, with songs about “celebrating who you are” and “dancing through the bullshit,” as she puts it.
On her previous single, the synth-heavy ’80s-esque “Crying on the Dance Floor,” for instance, she sings about forcing herself to go out and dance, even on those days when she feels like crap and doesn’t want to do anything at all. “Be Yourself,” released earlier this year, has a similar dance party vibe, giving listeners permission to let loose with a chill bass track, sparkly keys, and confidence-boosting lyrics. “Everyone who’s a misfit, I hope they were attracted to this EP,” she says.
“It’s obviously very disco-inspired, and we definitely had a lot of fun elements there,” she adds. “But we didn’t always commit to it completely because then we’d get almost like teen pop. I wanted it to be sonically in between a full-blown disco party and an element of ‘this is someone who lives on a periphery.'”
She and producer Stefan Lit got together and wrote and produced the songs on the spot, aiming to make them a bit more lo-fi and gritty than mainstream disco tracks. They completed the project in a span of about three weeks. “Production-wise, there wasn’t a lot to it,” she says. “We just went and put it together quickly. We didn’t stand in our own way, and we did the work and got the results. I feel like it really encompasses the entire idea of the sad girl disco party — you don’t think about it, just let it all out.”
In her usual fashion, she’s currently at work on a number of projects through her various acts, perhaps most excitingly a collection of Britney Spears covers by women and non-binary artists, whose proceeds will go to charities that combat abuse of power. While it’s still in the works, she knows for sure that it will include “Overprotected.”
“I think there’s just gross displays of power in the music industry in general, and we’re not a well-united industry,” she says. “There’s just so many women that I know that have been abused in some way that it wouldn’t sit right with me to not show some display of solidarity with someone that is being abused by her family and the entertainment industry as a whole. There’s not too much you can do, but we can still make some noise and stand with [Britney].”
This spirit of solidarity has inspired her music lately, particularly her last few songs as Jessy Jones. “I hope that everybody wants to join my sad disco party,” she says. “Put on a dress, put on a wig, and we will put a disco ball up and throw confetti and ride the wave out.”