Jax has some advice for anyone looking to make it on TikTok. “Do not hold back,” she tells POPSUGAR. “Literally, do not hold back.”
It’s a lesson that took her a minute to learn. “I spent my whole life as a songwriter with negative dollars in my bank account, wondering why people don’t care,” she says. “And it’s because I held back in every way. I listened to every whisper in my ear about what I should and shouldn’t be doing, what’s cool and what’s not cool, instead of just naturally doing what felt right. The first time things started working for me was when I just stopped caring and I didn’t hold back, and I just unapologetically posted my music.”
Since then, Jax has clearly taken her own advice and run with it. Following the success of her 2022 hit “Victoria’s Secret,” the star’s career has been on a rapid upswing. She’s made a name for herself by making what’s essentially protest pop, taking on everything from toxic relationships to beauty standards in her infectious singles, and it’s endeared her to a huge community of fans.
She didn’t exactly set out to make protest music, though. “My intention as a songwriter is never so much to be an activist as much as it is to just tell truths about what I’ve gone through,” she says. “And then, when I leave the studio, cross my fingers and hope that people can relate.”
It certainly seems to be working. She’s currently on tour with Big Time Rush and is working on new music, including a collaboration with Simple Plan – though in the midst of it all, she’s found some time to relax and have fun. In July, she partnered with Malibu and released a cover of “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” complete with an infectiously summery music video. The project was “pretty much the first and only time I got to hang out and do a pool party this summer,” she says, describing it as a “vacation day right before I went on tour.” Still, the fun hasn’t stopped entirely. “Everyone on this tour bus has been drinking Malibu the entire tour,” she laughs.
Jax also managed to carve out the time to see “Barbie” this summer, and she noticed a lot of parallels between the film and “Victoria’s Secret.” “I felt like it was paralleling ‘Victoria’s Secret’ in so many ways,” she says. “I was wondering when they were gonna address concepts like cellulite with ‘Barbie,’ because that damaged a lot of kids. I think growing up, we idolized Barbie’s body. Now, [in the “Barbie” movie], it’s turned into – hey, you can’t have a fully patriarchal society, and you can’t have a society really run by any one gender at all, ’cause it won’t work either way. That was one of the coolest metaphors I’ve seen in a movie in a long time.”
It’s hard not to notice similarities between “Barbie” and Jax’s music, which also asks audiences to question restrictive social norms by sharing positive messages in fun packages. And like “Barbie,” Jax has also been accused of being virulently anti-man. “I have comments on the internet that are like, ‘Don’t blame men for things,’ and ‘She hates men,'” she says. Meanwhile, Jax notes, she’s engaged to a man she loves and trusts deeply. “It’s all about the man you have in your life,” she says, emphasizing that it’s critical to have a “partner that’s gonna support the things you do and lift you up and make you feel special in your work, your life, and in your body.”
Like the effectiveness of simply being herself online, Jax wasn’t always aware of how important it is to stay true to herself in relationships. “I definitely learned not to change who I am for not only any guy, but anyone ever,” she says. “And I learned not to bend on issues that I feel passionate about. A lot of times I did that just to get a guy to like me, and I blew it.”
“I definitely learned not to change who I am for not only any guy, but anyone, ever.”
Now, the 27-year-old singer wants to inspire her fans to stay true to themselves as well. Jax has a devoted following on TikTok, and though at first she felt pressured to replicate the viral success of “Victoria’s Secret,” she’s since leaned into the connection-based aspect of the app. “I’ve kind of just built a community of friends and family on the app, and I see it as the most incredible way to test out new music and get a focus group of millions of kids to just tell me whether or not they like my songs and if I should put them out or not,” she says.
Jax has been able to meet some of her fans at different tour stops and has even taken the time to collaborate with them on songs and videos in person, a process that’s often given her a “spark that I needed creatively” during the tiring touring process.
Her digital success has also allowed her to help other people tell their stories. “Now I just kind of get to have fun and feature other people’s very unique stories on the app, especially young kids. I’ve kind of taken on the role of honorary babysitter for all the kids that want to jump on TikTok and write songs with me and tell their stories,” she says. “It’s been a lot less about views and numbers. It’s more about how special the app is for music and for telling stories that haven’t been heard yet.”
In a landscape that often offers musicians bleak outcomes and few possibilities, Jax says, TikTok can also offer rare rays of light. “I feel like it’s saved more lives than people realize,” she adds, “especially for songwriters and creatives that have been hustling for no money and long hours their entire life . . . I think the common consensus, at least amongst the songwriting community, is that this app really changed everybody’s life for the better.”
It’s certainly changed Jax’s life, elevating her from a struggling musician trying to make it in Los Angeles to where she is today – and all because she decided to stop holding back and letting others dictate the way she takes up space in the world.
Of course, TikTok contains its fair share of toxicity as well, but Jax also wants to remind fans that it’s possible to curate their own TikTok feeds, just like it’s possible to curate one’s own self-image and perspective. “The internet as a whole is always feeding you unrealistic expectations of what people’s pores look like and what their bodies look like,” she says. “Face-tuned filters, Photoshop, you name it. But with TikTok in particular, you can train your algorithm.” And ever since “Victoria’s Secret,” she says, her feed has been full of body positivity, without a filter in sight.
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