Jillian Rossi is a singer with a big voice and lots of stories to tell to back it up. In our exclusive interview, the singer and songwriter let us in on how she has cultivated a following on TikTok and begun following in the footsteps of her own inspirations like Bebe Rexha and Demi Lovato. In 2020, Jillian’s song ‘So What’ drew in millions of streams and featured a music video starring fellow TikTok stars like XoBrooklynne, Sienna Mae Gomez, and Danielle Cohn. Soon after, her single ‘Fever Dream’ gained traction on TikTok before even being released. Because of its TikTok success and relatability, ‘Fever Dream’ became a massive pre-save success.
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Now, Jillian has only continued to build upon these successes. From a big move to LA to celebrity support to her most recent single ‘Give Me A Reason,’ Jillian has proven she’s a Gen Z artist we do not wanna miss out on! Check out our interview below and find out about her influences, what it was like to sing in front of Billy Joel, her experience at Berklee College of Music, and more.
Your song ‘Fever Dream’ blew up on TikTok – what made you want to get started on TikTok with your music? Are there any current TikTokers who inspired you to start on the platform?
Yes! I’m so happy that ‘Fever Dream’ resonated with the TikTok community because I love the platform so much. I started sharing my music on TikTok when I noticed a lot of artists really getting their foot in the door that way. ‘Fever Dream’ is one of my favorite songs and I hoped if I shared a song of mine that I loved, other people would love it too. The response was beyond what I could’ve imagined and I’m so grateful for that. I’m pretty much on TikTok every day and watch a lot of different content. A few Tiktokers I love are Addison Rae, Jasmine Chiswell, Ellie Zeiler, and XoBrookylnne. Brooklynne was in my first music video and has been a close friend since she and I have the same manager. She is so inspirational and we both love to use our platforms to promote positivity.
You’re a big fan of Bebe Rexha – what artists were most influential to you growing up? Where do you get inspiration from?
Bebe is amazing! I love female artists with huge voices because I feel there are only a few of us trying to make that happen right now. Being from Long Island, NY, I grew up listening to a lot of Billy Joel, of course. My dad loves classic rock so I had to listen to a lot of that as well. A few female artists I remember listening to growing up were Kesha, Demi Lovato, Avril Lavigne, and a lot of indie & pop/rock bands once I got into my teens like 5SOS, The 1975, and Walk The Moon. I pull a lot of inspiration from guys from my past. I think the best therapy is writing and I’m lucky that I am able to say all the things I need to say in my music without anyone really knowing what song is about who!
Do you think that graduating from Berklee College of Music has helped you figure out your sound?
I am so glad I got to go to Berklee and finish college with a degree in 3 years. While I was there I learned so much about songwriting, producing, and was prepared for what real music industry sessions would be like. At Berklee, I learned a lot about myself and how to navigate rejection, and how to work hard on my own. I definitely always knew how I wanted to use my voice in my music but I really found my sound this year during the pandemic. I had all the time in the world to make music and figure out what worked best for me. It’s sad that the pandemic happened but it gave me a lot of free time to really hone in on my artist project and be the best version of myself.
Both ‘Fever Dream’ and ‘So What’ feel empowering, though in very different ways. Is that something that’s important to you in your music? What does that mean to you?
Aw, thank you for saying that! It is a huge priority for me. I love being able to make empowering music for people all over the world to listen to. I think empowering, at least for me, means to have an impact on others and to write relatable music. I think the most empowering thing is knowing that other people in the world can relate to my music and feel something when they listen.
The lyrics of ‘Fever Dream’ are especially honest and hit the listener right in the heart. Which line hits the most for you?
My favorite line of the song is “how’d you make mean feel so nice?” I think that line just hits home for me and a lot of people. It’s the entire song’s meaning in one sentence.
Talking about ‘Fever Dream,’ have you ever gotten inspired by any dream? Have you ever dreamt of something and wrote about it?
I definitely used to wake up in the middle of the night and write songs, but I haven’t had that happen in a while. That definitely used to happen way before I was writing in sessions every day.
Your song ‘So What’ was super raw and honest about mental health and body positivity, and ‘Fever Dream’ continues that honest songwriting. How do you approach writing such vulnerable songs? What’s your process like?
I love writing about my own experiences in my music. I think sometimes when you tell the world something you have gone through it makes people feel less alone. Being authentic is something I try to do in all of my songs. I’m so glad people relate to my music, this makes me feel less alone too.
You recruited a bunch of TikTok stars for your music video ‘So What.’ What can you tell us about that experience?
Yes! That is still one of the coolest things I’ve ever been able to do. Brooklynne (XoBrooklynne on TikTok) and I have the same manager and her brand is all about spreading positivity. I showed her the song one day and she loved it and helped recruit a lot of her friends from TikTok to rally around the song to spread positivity with us. We both recently moved to LA and I now look at her like a little sister. That experience definitely brought us close.
Getting to play music for living legend Billy Joel must have been crazy! Is that the most mind-boggling experience you’ve had career-wise so far, or is there another moment that comes to mind?
That was definitely one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever had! That happened when I was 16 years old when Billy Joel donated money to my arts high school. It’s truly a moment I will never forget. I’d say singing in front of Billy Joel and performing by myself at Fenway Park are tied for the craziest experience I’ve had so far. It’s really nice because both of those things happened because of my actions and not anyone else’s. A big part of my story is that I come from knowing nobody in this industry. I asked Billy Joel a question during a Q&A and I sent in a demo to a link that had the title ‘Do you want to sing at Fenway Park?!.’ Knowing both of those things happened to me based on nothing but me putting myself out there feels really awesome.
How do you think that performing in front of Billy Joel and hearing his comments about you changed you or impacted you?
I’m glad you asked this question! I didn’t really go into detail in my last answer about how he responded to me singing an original song for him. The two most memorable things he said to me (which I also have on video) were “You should send that song to Taylor Swift!” and “The way you play the guitar reminds me of Joni Mitchell, keep going.” It definitely impacted me.
What can fans look forward to in the future?
A lot more music – and very, very soon. I have so many songs that I love sitting on my computer at the moment. I also just released my new single ‘Give Me A Reason’ too. I write 1-2 per day now that I am living in LA and doing more sessions. There are too many songs I can’t wait for everyone to hear. Might even have an EP planned out for the end of this year! They can also look forward to a lot more TikTok videos of me singing my songs in the car!
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Featured Image Source: Josefine Cardoni & Afnan Acharki from THP Graphics Team