‘I just want to spread love’: An Interview with Jain
Interview and Photos by Karan Teli
Just after the release of her second album Souldier, which has been three years in the making, I sat down with French pop star Jain, while she stopped off in London, to discuss everything from her travels, Social Media, Kendrick Lamar and most importantly…why she sings in English.
How’s London treating you?
It’s cool. I woke up really early this morning, but tonight we’re going to Shoreditch tonight.
Of all the places you’ve travelled, is there something about London that stands out the most?
The music, of course. Music is part of the culture in London. There are a lot of live bands, a lot of places where you can just go and jam.
Of all the countries you’ve lived in, which has had the most impact on you musically?
Oh, that’s hard. I’d say it’s a mixture between English and American culture. When I was younger, I was listening to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and stuff like that. I listened to a lot of Soul music, people like Otis Redding.
It’s been just under 3 years since Jain’s last album. Everything in music has changed a lot within the last 3 years – whether it’s streaming or the overall sound of music, so I was interested in what Jain has been listening to over the past 3 years. “A lot of Hip-Hop. Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino a lot. I must say a lot.”
Which Kendrick album from the last 3 years do you prefer?
To Pimp A Butterfly. It just has so much creativity.
How long did you spend making Souldier?
I was really inspired while I was on tour. The live env-iron-ment, is that the right word? Am I saying it right?
Yeah that! It really helped me to write songs during the tour. I was touring for 2 years, so I wrote my new album on tour.
Do you have a favourite song?
Each song completes each other, so it’s hard to pick just one. But, for live shows, the songs that work the best are Inspecta and Star. Everybody is really jumping a lot. I’m alone on stage, I need that energy.
How did you find the balance between making Pop music and also having a meaning behind it?
The music I like is music that makes me dance. That’s something I really wanted to keep. But also, on the first album, I was 16 when I wrote some of the songs, and they were released when I was 23. Some of the songs didn’t fit with who I was at 23. So with Souldier, I wanted it to be a reflection of me. That’s why the subjects are a lot tougher.
Imagine my surprise when I was first introduced to Jain’s music, labelled as ‘French Pop’ to discover her singing in near perfect English. “I wasn’t even living in France when I first started writing music. So for me, it was all about communication and communicating with other people, not just French people. Even if it is broken English, it’s still the universal language.”
You were a product of social media before the social media era. How important is social media?
So huge. This day in age, you have to be on these playlists. When you go to big companies, they look at your likes, your followers and stuff. It’s so important. With me, when I made my demo, I sent it to lots of people from French labels and only one got back to me. He’s still my manager today.
Was there a specific moment when you said wow I’m in the American market?
When we were nominated for a Grammy. We were actually like ‘wow’. I still think I have a lot of work in that market. But, I have one foot in the door.
What inspired you to touch on the Orlando shooting?
I was watching the news and saw somebody bring a flower to the club where the shooting happened. That’s where I came up with the idea of having the song about a soldier that fights with a flower. I wanted to create a moment of utopia. I wanted to spread some love.
Any plans to go on tour or do any collaborations?
I would like to do collaborations for sure. I’m coming to London in November. So yeah, it’s going to be fun… I hope.