It takes just a few seconds of listening to Jain to know that you’ve stumbled on someone special. Pick a song – any song – from the Parisian’s glorious, globe-trotting debut album, Zanaka, and the effect is the same. Instantly, you’ll be startled, smitten and smiling.
It took about a minute for the audience at this year’s French Grammys, Les Victoires de la Musique, to anoint Jain pop’s most compelling new star. Performing her song Come at the televised ceremony, surrounded by dancing doppelgangers, backed by masked drummers and blaring brass, Jain stole the show as the crowd leapt from their seats in disbelief. The following day, Come was at No.1, helping to propel Zanaka to platinum sales in France within a couple of months of its release.
Photos: Jain in NYC
Jain, the unique singer-songwriter with a positive message making waves from France, just sold out two-straight shows in New York City, on the 12th at Rough Trade in Brooklyn and on the 13th at Mercury Lounge in downtown Manhattan. She also played recently in Los Angeles. Here are a few photos we snapped at the Rough Trade show. American music fans rejoice – Jain has already been selected to play at the famous SXSW festival in Austin, Texas in 2017!
Watch a short clip of the performance below
France Rocks Original Interview: Jain
France Rocks recently had the pleasure to exchange via email with an exciting new French artist with global influences, Jain, resulting in a very unique and intriguing interview. Jain, who grew up all over the world but considers Toulouse, France her hometown, is in the process of releasing a new EP, available digitally in November.
FRANCE ROCKS: Tell us more about the concept and musical style of Jain and how this project began
JAIN: This project began when I was in Congo, in a town called Pointe-Noire, I really felt the need to make songs and express myself on what I was living back there. My mother is half Malagasy half French, so I grew up with a lot of African music around me, like Miriam Makeba, Youssou N’Dour, Oumou Sangare and I think it really inspired me. For this album I wanted to find bridges between World, Pop and Electro music and still keep it simple, that was the real challenge. In Congo I met a beatmaker called “Mister Flash,” he gave me my first software so I could have a little home studio. That was the moment it really began
FRANCE ROCKS: You spent much of your early years moving around the world – in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. How has this poly-culturalism and mobility influenced your approach to music and the songs you create?
JAIN: It really influenced me in every way possible, it’s because of these experiences and those travels that I wanted to find a way to express myself. I listen to a lot of different types of music, African, Arabic, a lot of Hip Hop, and Soul…I wanted to do something eclectic and open minded and something very hopeful. In Dubai I took some Arabic percussion lessons, in Congo too, so the percussive side is really important in this album
FRANCE ROCKS: Speaking of cultural differences and influence, what do you find unique about music made in France (versus American music, for example) and how do you think these differences are reflected in your music?
JAIN: I think there’s a lot of very cool stuff going on these days in France, and Europe. The Electronic stage has always been very attractive and today, more and more artists understand how to mix styles, influences, and be fearless, because there is nothing to lose by trying new music. The Internet sometimes has a very good impact on music, because people can discover sounds from all around the world and be touched by it. Music is universal. I think in France, we have a lot of freedom because nobody is waiting for us in the musical landscape.
FRANCE ROCKS: Are there any French or Francophone artists you’ve been listening to lately that you would like to recommend to American audiences?
JAIN: I really like The Dø, Stromae, Christine and the Queens, Fakear for example, I think they all have something very unique….
FRANCE ROCKS: You list your hometown as Toulouse. What’s going on there musically? Any artists we should know about?
JAIN: Actually Toulouse has a very interesting history with music, a lot of new groups are from this town, and they have a very strong indie pop/rock stage. I would recommend Kid Wise… Toulouse is in the south of France, historically jazz and rock are the main musical genres over there, Claude Nougaro, one of the legends in France was from this town..
FRANCE ROCKS: Your videos, like the one for “Come”, have a unique and colorful visual style. In what ways are you involved creating the music videos and what role do visuals and visual imagery play in your music and your artistic vision?
JAIN: After my graduation I went to art school in Paris. I always loved to mix music and visuals and it’s very important for me to be part of this process… I have a really good team , when I make an artistic proposition, we all work together to make it happen. That’s how I met Greg & Lio the video makers of “Come,” two very talented guys…the pitch was the multiplication of Jain, with visual tricks to make something fun out of it and then they came with a lot of very cool ideas…Music and visuals are inseparable I think…
FRANCE ROCKS: According to wikipedia, the “three main principles of Jainism are non-violence, non-absolutism (anekantavada) and non-possessiveness (aparigraha).” How does this concept of the Jain fit in to your music, and if it does, in what ways do you think artists should or should not be involved in terms of social progress and political message?
JAIN: I’m not a Jainist, but one of the main themes of this album is Peace, so it kind of fits… I think artists should do what they deeply believe in, it’s a human choice before being an artistic one… So if it’s something like Miriam Makeba, sincere and not for the fame, they should feel free to choose…
FRANCE ROCKS: If you could collaborate with any living artists who would they be and why?
JAIN: Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar, Asap Rocky, Joey badass, Alabama Shakes, Florence + The Machine, MIA, Daft Punk, Gorillaz , actually they are way to many artists I would love to work with… Artists who have a very strong world…
FRANCE ROCKS: Tell us a bit more about your upcoming projects in terms of new recordings and tours.
JAIN: I just started a tour around France, some in Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. I’m really focusing on these shows right now, and I’m still writing songs and making demos on my computer…
FRANCE ROCKS: What is your plan for the US? Do you plan to tour here in the future?
JAIN: The album will be released on iTunes on November 6th , and will be in stores next year! I would love to tour in the U.S …
Interview conducted in English by Matthew Herzfeld