By Chris Treacy
Jacklen Ro is truly a breath of fresh air. It’s been a whirlwind for the L.A. based duo, (Jackie Giroux and Caelen Perkins), who’ve miraculously managed to stay focused since their 2019 debut, Love Junkies. A series of buzzy singles have ensued, including a charming cover of John & Yoko’s holiday classic, “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” Along the way, their buoyant, harmony-driven indie-pop bent the ears of the folks at Lolipop Records, who’ve since signed the band—now expanded to a foursome—and released an EP, Til There Was You, in 2021.
To tide us over until the full-length drops later this year, the new single and video, “Life With You,” premieres today as a Country Queer exclusive (below).
“It’s a song about unconditional love that’s reciprocal,” they explained in a press release. “It’s about the people you’re there for and are there for you when you need them. Like family. The people you want to shower with love cause they won’t judge.” While the song makes great use of the band’s contagious, playful energy, the accompanying video throws us some visual curveballs.
Jacklen Ro’s Jackie Giroux took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us about the new clip.
Tell us a bit about the concept for the video—did you help develop the concept or did the director just take the song and run with it?
Our director Caitlyn Phu actually came up with the concept on her own. We’ve worked with her for so long on other projects and because she is so close to us and so incredibly talented she was able to do the song justice. We created the image of a nuclear family being completely happy and trying to prove this perfect image to the world and themselves, and how that slowly wears them out. Once they accept their emotions they can find true happiness. That’s the moral of the story: you have to accept yourself unconditionally, with the ups and downs of being a person
The flipping around of gender roles in the clip is great fun and makes it a more intriguing story. How does that speak to the song’s theme of unconditional love?
I think acceptance is found through representation and normalizing queerness in as many ways as possible. This video was fun for Caelen and I because we got to play around with gender in a big way and explore it within ourselves a bit. I’m a gay woman and feel comfortable leaning into my masculinity and I feel empowered being able to embrace both sides of myself. Caelen is really comfortable leaning into his feminine side, which also brings him empowerment in a way that brings us both closer together as well. There is more queer representation in music than ever and I’m so happy that we can be a part of it in our own unique way.
In readying your first full-length for Lolipop, what can we expect? Are the songs a natural extension of the EP or have you taken things in a new direction? Is there a specific producer involved?
This album is not quite the same type of sound as the EP. The album is more rock and roll than the EP was, closer to the tone of our song “Sally”. The album is produced by Ignacio Gonzalez from Lolipop, who produced our EP as well, so it definitely has the same guidance, but with some new sound elements.
The pandemic took lots of things away from us, but for those of us lucky enough to have stayed healthy, we were blessed with extra time. Tell me some things the pandemic gave you more time for.
2020 was a crazy year for us because it was the year that our music journey really began. That’s when we started releasing and recording with Lolipop, which felt very surreal given the circumstances. We were living in different states at the time and finally finding success in the midst of all of the craziness the world was going through.
Once a duo, now a band. Can you tell me a bit about how the dynamic has shifted now that you’re a bona-fide foursome?
It has been such a gift for us to find our wonderful bandmates. We have Caden Bartlett on the drums and Lauren Hickey on the bass blessing us with a heavenly rhythm section. It feels really wonderful to have a full band to play with on songs I’d only heard with me playing guitar and Caelen on the drums for years. Now we’re out playing regularly with a band who kicks ass, and Caelen and I feel a lot cooler with them supporting us. Lauren and Caden have become some of our closest friends and we’re really grateful that we won in both business and pleasure!