Metro Weekly

Who is Who Is Fancy?

His mysterious identity revealed, Jake Hagood is enjoying a slow, steady march to hopeful success

Who Is Fancy
Who Is Fancy – Photo: Stephen Schofield and Sarah Barlow

Who is Who Is Fancy? That would be Jake Hagood.

“There is a little bit of Fancy inside everyone,” says Hagood, the 24-year-old budding pop artist behind the song “Goodbye” as well as a buzzed-about publicity campaign concocted by his label earlier this year. “I wanted people to hear my story — my song — and the heart of that song,” Hagood says. Republic Records released this sumptuous, mid-tempo breakup anthem in early February, listing the artist as “Who Is Fancy” and including no identifying details about Hagood. Then, the label released three music videos, starring three very different actors lip-syncing to the song — a white male model, a chunky black woman and a black transgender model shorn of female attire.

It was eventually revealed that Hagood was a cute gay cub unfearful of his feminine side.

“I started wearing makeup and doing my nails and dyeing my hair crazy colors, pretty much immediately after I came out,” he says. He was working at a Forever 21 store in Nashville, Tn., and it was the first place he felt free to be himself and explore his identity. A co-worker nicknamed him Fancy, referencing Drake’s early hit, popular at the time. “It was the first time I had a nickname that I really identified with and that gave me a sense of comfort,” he says. “I agreed wholeheartedly that I was fancy.”

A native of Bentonville, Ark., Hagood originally moved to Nashville to study at Trevecca Nazarene University, founded over a century ago as the Pentecostal Literary and Bible Training School.

“I grew up in the Nazarene Church. My parents are very faithful in their belief system,” Hagood says. “So coming out was a struggle, but it was something all of us worked through and worked at. And I think we’re all better for it.” Now, his parents rarely miss a performance, and were present when he revealed his true identity to the world — in April on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. “I think that’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he says. “Music has been so important to me, and performing has been my passion since I was little. It was really just a dream come true.”

It was hard to stay quiet and maintain the mystery while his song was on the radio, becoming a modest hit on Billboard‘s charts. His videos went viral, garnering millions of hits on YouTube and Vevo. “Even at my song’s highest peak, I was just chilling, watching a lot of Gilmore Girls, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — just Netflix-ing it up. It was absolutely wild,” he says.

Now comes the hardest part — parlaying that initial success into a musical career. He’s got heavy-hitters behind him, including Big Machine, the same management company that discovered Taylor Swift. Having recently made the move to Los Angeles to step up his game, Hagood feels the pressure — and yet he’s reluctant to rush. His second single, for example, is more happy and fun, “a different facet of who Fancy is.” “Very soon” is all he will say about a release date.

“It’s not lost on me that this opportunity doesn’t come for a lot of people,” he says. “I’m really wanting to take my time. I want this to be right…. I want it to be me all the way through, and it’s not something I’m willing to rush to get out.”

Later this summer he’ll open for Meghan Trainor on a few dates of her tour, but the focus is on releasing new music. And yes, all of it will be released as Who Is Fancy. “Throughout my career, I want to always be reminding people what makes them special, or fancy,” he says. “Everyone has something that’s different about them, and it’s not necessarily wrong.”

Listen to “Goodbye” and watch the videos at whoisfancymusic.com.

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