Who Is Fancy? Talks “Goodbye,” Beyonce, Beards & His Forever 21 Past: Idolator Interview

Jonathan Riggs | April 15, 2015 6:00 am

For the past few months, a mysterious new artist has sparked a full-on panic in the industry. As the mysterious debut single “Goodbye” became a hit, the world wondered: Who Is Fancy?

Revealed at last in an unforgettable April 7 performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the answer to the mystery turned out to be 24-year-old Jake “Fancy” Hagood, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter, who, as it turns out, was signed by Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Rixton) and Taylor Swift’s label head Scott Borchetta.

Fancy was once a a gay, small-town Arkansas boy who dropped out of high school due to bullying, and eventually Fancy moved to Nashville to pursue music. He earned his affectionate nickname while working at Forever 21, where, he says, his story really began.

At last, the mystery is revealed of Who Is Fancy! Was it hard to keep the secret? WHO IS FANCY: Yeah! I am not a mysterious person in my day-to-day life at all. It takes about 10 seconds for anyone to get to know who I am, so it was definitely a challenge the whole way.

What was going through your mind during your ultimate reveal on The Tonight Show? I was thinking to myself, “I hope no one can notice how violently my leg is shaking right now.” [Laughs] It was just so surreal. But when I actually turned around for the first time, I felt free. I was just really excited to be able to perform, finally.

Your performance-ending glitter kiss was instantly iconic. Is that your new trademark? [Laughs] I wouldn’t say it’s new. Anyone who knows me knows that glitter is my thing.

First things first: are you more of an Iggy Azalea “Fancy” or a Reba “Fancy”? I’m split right down the middle. I have my Iggy tendencies and I definitely have my Reba tendencies.

You’re one of a few openly LGBT artists making a splash on the mainstream charts during a time when the industry and world seem more receptive to that than ever. What’s caused this sea change? Just look at what’s going on politically in America — there are so many people challenging the so-called norm. Right now is the perfect time for me or Sam Smith or any other LGBT artist to stand up and make a difference and be a voice for people who don’t have as much of a voice as they deserve…yet.

In “Goodbye,” you tell an ex-lover, “she’ll never know you like I do,” which is pretty attention-grabbing. Why is it “she” and not “he”? As a writer, it’s really important for me to be honest to my story and stay true to myself. I am not ambiguous. I never planned on being ambiguous. Everything I write is my diary so I have to write everything down the way it went and that’s exactly how it happened.

Growing up, who are some artists who really spoke to you? I always gravitated towards strong female artists because they were singing about boys and men and I always felt like I had to reach to find songs that related to me and what I was going through. I’ve always loved Beyoncé. Her records just slay me every single time. I also love Nashville and country music.

When you’re writing a song, how do you know that you’ve nailed it? I started writing songs as an outlet when I was 10 or 11. When I’m just being authentically myself, through my words and my music, that’s when I know that a song is truly special.

What song do you wish you’d written? There’s so many! I really wish I could’ve been a part of “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé. Dolly Parton is also one of the most legendary writers and performers in history, so for her to have written a song like “I Will Always Love You” that crossed genres and still today is a top-selling song — I hope to one day be a part of a song like that.

What inspired you to launch the #IAmFancy movement where you ask fans to share what makes them special? For so long in my life, I felt that were so many things wrong with me. Because of where I grew up, I never felt that I stood out in a good way — all of these things that made me different were bad. To be part of a movement where young people can self-proclaim what makes them unique and makes them good was just really moving and emotional for me.

One cool promo you did was a secret concert for 10 kindergarteners where you revealed your identity before anyone else knew Who Is Fancy. Those kids absolutely adored you. What was that like? Oh, my word. It was one of the most humbling experiences because they were so sweet and so honest and so sincere. One of the little girls, when they asked her, “Why did Fancy move away from Arkansas?” she goes, “He said he was different.” And they said, “Do you think Fancy is different?” and she goes, “Not different from me.” And I just about lost it. I just wish that as adults we could all be like that.

Do you feel a responsibility to rep for the bearded folk? Any community I can be a voice for, I’ll take it. [Laughs] If that’s the bearded community or the gay community or the cute-and-chubby community, I’m down.

Speaking of, has the bear community flooded you with marriage proposals yet? [Laughs] Not yet. I think I’ve gotten a couple shout-outs from the bear community, but I haven’t gotten any marriage proposals. I’m single, sassy and looking!

What’s your advice for guys who want to have a flawless makeup game? Keep experimenting. You know how when girls start doing their makeup at like, 11, it’s really awkward? All my friends were so patient with me because I went through that stage at 21. I learned a lot from YouTube tutorials.

What’s the story behind your nail art? I went and got my nails done before the Fallon thing, and I wanted all white. I just went to some random nail salon and I didn’t like what they did. So I went home and tried to cover it up with my go-to, glitter.

Is it true that you once embarrassed yourself in front of Taylor Swift? Oh, yeah! I saw her at this Nashville place, Café Coco, before I had anything going on in music. I was literally walking in with my friends and someone was like, “Oh my God — there’s Taylor Swift!” So I turned around quickly — as anyone would — and she and I made eye contact. Then I stumbled over a chair.

Now that you two are pretty much labelmates, will you team up to conquer the world?] I definitely would love to join Tay Tay’s world domination. I don’t feel like I could proclaim, “We’re going to do that!” until she invites me, so it’s fully up to Tay Tay to say the word, and I’m there.

Do you ever feel the urge to go back to Forever 21 and say, “Ha ha!”? You know what? Forever 21 is such a big part of my story. It’s where I became Fancy and I am so grateful to a lot of the people I worked with. It was the first time in my life that I felt like I was an individual who mattered. My story starts there. However, my desire to say, “Ha ha, I did it!” is across the board — I want to go back to Arkansas and be like, “What up, y’all?”

Finally: are we going to get a Fancy album soon? You sure are. I’m working very hard to get that out.

Do you feel like you learned more about who exactly Fancy is? Let us know your thoughts on our interview with the singer below!