Living A Life With Love: Jessica Carter Altman Breaks Down New Single “Fake It” And The Journey Of Changing Career Industries

Photo Credit: Rebecca Michelson

“It gave me the space to try and fail, and not living a life with regret, you only get one chance at this life…”

It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. This famous motto does not only apply to relationships, but all aspects of life, and it’s something Jessica Carter Altman has taken to heart when it comes to her career. 

The 33-year-old singer graduated from University of Michigan law school, passed the bar, and became a practicing lawyer. But in those long days sitting in a windowless office, her heart tugged for another love: music. Melodic tunes have been part of the “Bad Energy” singer’s life since childhood. 

“From a very young age, that [music] was what my passion was, what I really wanted to do,” she says, “but I thought it was just the most ridiculous thing in the world to shoot for and having that rational mind, I went off to college and inertia kind of took over.”  

Carter Altman participated in musical extracurriculars as a child, but slowly fell off as she grew up. The further she separated herself from music, the more she was pulled back in. With music being part of her life foundation, it only makes sense this invisible string grew tighter with age, especially with the influence of her parents. 

“Growing up, probably my earliest inspiration in music was most likely my mom. She was always singing and performing,” Carter Altman told Loop in an exclusive interview. “I still love going back and looking at her specials that she used to have. They’re on Youtube, and they’re so much fun to watch.”

Photo Credit: Rebecca Michelson

With singing and performing running in her blood, the Aftermath artist ironically got back into performing during law school after sharing a special performance with her mom. That moment served as the final tension in the string pulling her into music, and snapping her back into the art of it, 

“It was in law school that I started to perform again, and that was kind of the initial…you know you shove something down, and it was like the first chink in the armour,” she said. “You know the floodgates kind of opened, and I knew by the time I finished law school that I was at some point going to be a musician and pursue music. It was just a matter of when.”

Carter Altman received her law degree in 2017, and almost seven years later is well into her music career with this year being one of her biggest yet. Her single “Fake It” came out last week, being the predecessor for her E.P. Aftermath II and her first full length studio album Aftermath which will be released June 14. 

Aftermath will be celebrated with a very special performance at West Hollywood’s The Troubadour on June 17. Getting to release the album “and now getting to share it with people, it’s that final piece of the puzzle,” the musician excitedly told us.

Just as thrilling as releasing the album will also be performing it as she is set to open for Tyler Hilton on his upcoming tour. When performing from small to large venues, Carter Altman told us “I really just want to put on a great show, and I’m always so humbled seeing people in the audience take time out of their day to travel to the venue, [and] pay for a ticket to spend their evening with me.” 

Keep scrolling to see the rest of our exclusive interview with Jessica Carter Altman as Loop breaks down the trajectory of her career, her upcoming releases, the impact of her supportive parents and more. 

Photo Credit: Tracy Ketcher

You said you grew up in a musical household. How did you learn that music is your passion? 

I have really just always loved it. I didn’t think about it as necessarily as my passion in that way. I was just always singing. I joined my first chorus when I was in the first grade at school, and I just grew up constantly singing. My mom used to make up songs all the time, and music just filled the house always. And every Sunday, we used to have a brunch at the house with my grandparents and my aunts and uncles, and every morning my dad would play Mozart’s French Horn Concerto, and to this day, if I hear that song, I am ready for some lox and bagels and eggs: it just reminds me of that, every Sunday growing up. 

Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music?

It’s constantly changing. I am constantly inspired all the time by different musicians and artists. […] I remember going to *NSYNC concerts. My first concert ever was The Spice Girls, which was amazing. I love that they were the first concert I went to. Last night, I went to go see Arlo Parks in Nashville, and she’s so incredible. I think I’m constantly amazed by the amount of talent there is in the world, and I just really love every opportunity I get to watch people perform and play their instruments, [and] sing. It’s just such a privilege. 

What was the final point that made you decide to switch career paths? Was it a gradual build up or more of a spontaneous epiphany?

Ooh, that’s a good question. I always wanted to be a singer growing up. it was in law school that I started to perform again, and that was kind of the initial…you know you shove something down, and it was like the first chink in the armor. You know the floodgates kind of opened, and I knew by the time I finished law school that I was at some point going to be a musician and pursue music. It was just a matter of when. That was back in 2017. So, I took the bar exam and I was about to start working at my first law firm and I came down to Nashville and started having meetings, that’s when I met my producer, and I started to pursue both simultaneously. So, Monday through Friday, I was in DC, I was at the office. Friday night I would fly to Nashville, and I would write and record and perform on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday, I would fly back, and that was kind of my existence for a while. It was very unsatisfying because I wasn’t really giving everything to music, and that was very frustrating. So eventually, I knew there was a point that just hit, and it was now or never. I quit my job at the law firm and haven’t looked back. 

You said you started performing in law school. Were you in a student group or band or were you performing solo? How did you start performing?

So my mom would have a concert at the Kennedy Center, and the year prior my brother had gone on stage with her to play the guitar. She needed two guitars for one song she wanted to perform, and the next year she asked if I wanted to join her on stage and without really thinking about it, I said “yes” because getting to perform with my mom in such an iconic, unbelievable venue, I just immediately said “yes.” I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous getting on stage. It’s really hard to perform in front of a hometown crowd because you have your friends watching you. And when I look back, that was really it for me. 

Photo Credit: Tracy Ketcher

You’ve done a variety of showcases, including having a residency at Hotel Café. What does it go through your head when you are performing live, especially in these intimate settings? 

In the smaller venues, I really try to talk about the different songs. I really try to highlight the band and musicians I get to play with, so that people can really appreciate the talent that is on stage. I am really, really so lucky to be playing with those musicians and just share a piece of myself and hopefully they get a little more insight. I hope that my songs help other people feel something. I love talking to people in those intimate settings. I get off the stage, and I’m immediately surrounded by everyone who just watched the performances and talking to people about the songs that resonated with them, and their own personal experiences…I was in LA, and somebody came up to me. I have a that just came out March 29th called “Fake It.” And it’s about a law school class, it’s inspired by a law school class. It’s about Imposter Syndrome, and somebody came up to me afterwards to talk about that and how they are actually a comedian. They’ve got a corporate job, but they like to do stand-up whenever they can and sharing similar feelings, that’s just the most amazing part. Getting to share those experiences with people.  

The last single you released was “Bad Energy,” which has a lot of strong feelings towards a certain person. What was going through your mind when you wrote that song and what goes through it when you perform it?

I’ve always been a people pleaser and will twist myself into a pretzel trying to accommodate everyone else’s needs, and I wrote that song at a time where I really just did not have the capacity to do that. And you start to realize that the people in your life you want to keep when you are more limited in being able to accommodate, almost every person in my life understood and they supported me, and that was just an unbelievable gift. But there were other people in my life who benefited from me having no boundaries and twisting myself into a pretzel to accommodate that I started to realize how toxic they really were, and I wrote that song as a signal that it is okay to acknowledge that someone might be toxic for you, and you have every right to tell them and to keep your distance and have your boundaries because at the end of the day you need to protect your own happiness. You need to do what serves you. 

Your next single, “Fake It” debuted March 29. Tell us about the inspiration.  

So I took in my 1L year of law school…I had a professor who taught another class called “Faking It.” He had written a book about it. You can look it up on Amazon, and that really was an inspiration. He would talk about certain principles of the faking it class, and it really stayed with me. I have personally always struggled with imposter syndrome, whether that’s practicing law or performing, and I have a tendency to pretend that I didn’t feel that way, and when I finally started to share this secret with other people, it was reflected back to me. A lot of people felt that way in their own jobs. Some of the people that were telling me that they felt like an imposter in their respective careers, it was mind blowing to me because I always saw them as so self-assured and powerful and confident. I just realized, “Wow, we all feel this way,” and maybe if we can stop pretending that we feel differently, then that power goes away because it is okay to feel like an imposter sometimes because we all do. 

You are on a marathon of releasing music. We also heard your album Aftermath is coming out later this year. What are you most excited for with your album?

I am so happy to have all these songs come out. It feels like it’s been a really long time coming, and I’ve been performing them for a while. But to have a full album…so I have the second e.p. Aftermath II that will come out, and then the album Aftermath will come out June 14th, and I’m going to perform everything at The Troubadour June 17. It’s just the best feeling in the world, kind of that final piece in the creative process to release it and have people make it their own and have their own stories become part of this narrative because for so long it’s been mine.

How has it been keeping up with such a fast release schedule as you have a constant stream of music coming out? 

To be honest, I thrive on the energy. I was talking to my husband, we were talking about being an introvert or an extrovert. And I said, “Yeah, I think I’m an introverted extrovert.” And he was like, “No, you’re just an extrovert, that’s all you are.” So I really just do thrive on interacting with people. I love sharing music, I love everything about it. It’s exhausting, but it’s also exhilarating. And I’m actually right now about to write my next album, so we have already started that process, and I’m just feeling inspired more than anything.

You had a beautiful Lake Como wedding in May 2023. How has marriage impacted you as an artist? 

As an artist, I just feel so supported by my husband. He is my biggest cheerleader. He comes to every show that he can. And there’s something really cool about making it official that we are partnered up for life, and he loves music, so he’s always sharing different playlists with me and songs and music. So I really could not ask for a better husband or partner. He’s actually coming to Nashville this weekend since I’m over here. He’s coming over to support me, which is just the best.

It was said on the Tamron Hall Show that your father told you “It is better to have tried and failed than to have lived a life with regret.” How has this advice shaped the trajectory of your music career?

I remember that conversation. We were in New York City, and I was walking in Central Park, and I just built up the courage to tell him I was going to graduate law school and I was going to take the bar, but that eventually I was going to leave law and be a musician. And it really just set me free. Especially when you respect and love your parents, you don’t want to disappoint them, and it really just took the pressure off. It gave me the space to try and fail, and not living a life with regret, you only get one chance with this life, and I just feel very fortunate to have parents who gave me the space to try and fail or try and succeed. 

We are so sorry that you lost your father a couple years ago. We read that he was one of your biggest encouragers. Is there any way you honor his memory or legacy in your music?   

Yeah, of course I do. My first original E.P. that came out “For You,” all of those songs were written about him, about our relationship. “Lucky One,” which was the first release off that album, was actually the only song of all these releases that he got to hear. And a simple recording that I made, it’s actually the vocal on the track “Lucky One” is the exact same one that I gave to him with the guitar part, and we added a few other things to it, and it was all about him and our relationship and that immediate time after his passing. I try every day to do something that makes me feel connected to him that he would love, and so anytime that I’m living my dream as an artist, I feel very connected to him because I think he would love it. 

You are soon going to perform with BBMAK for their first reunion in 15 years? How does it feel to be a part of something so special for this band, and how did this collaboration form?

It was back in 2021, I opened for O-Town in Boston and New York, and it was through that relationship that I got to play with BBMAK and also Tyler Hilton. I grew up listening to these musicians, so it’s the 11 year old girl in me who’s pinching herself. Watching their music videos, dancing around in my childhood bedroom, singing their songs…to get to share the stage with them is really just so cool.

You are about to start your opening act run for Tyler Hilton. How are you feeling about this?

I feel great! I’m really excited! It’ll be the first time I’m playing these songs on the album in an acoustic setting, so I’m playing with Mat Dauzat. He’s going to be playing the guitar and do harmonies. I was trying to remember how to figure out…I mean I wrote all the songs in an acoustic setting, but obviously they now have had a full production with them. So, we were trying to figure out do these songs, so they still work in an acoustic way. And I think they actually sound really cool. I’mplaying around with the idea of doing an acoustic album of my Aftermath album. That could potentially come out later this year. 

What is your favorite nightlife venue or activity? 

Who doesn’t love going out to dinner or grabbing a drink? I did recently go to Gold Diggers to see some live music. My bass player in LA, Brandon Brown, goes by Pastor Funk and I got to go watch his band, and they were amazing. I think my favorite thing to do is definitely go see live music. You never really know what you are going to find, and the talent is outstanding. And it’s fun to watch your friends do their thing on stage.

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