French Pop Newcomer Brightens NYC and Brooklyn
If 25-year-old French indie-pop musician Jain isn’t yet on your radar, listen up. The Toulouse native was nominated last year at the Victoires de la Musique Awards for her debut album Zanaka. With a knack for folk music songwriting, Jain electrifies her stage show [tonight at Bowery Ballroom and Saturday, April 8 at Music Hall of Williamsburg] with electronic elements, manipulating her Ableton Controller and Akai Apc40, creating live vocal loops to set the production in motion. She bounces around the stage spreading peace with her messages of love, respect and unity on the chant-like “Hope” singing “try to make it better, better together” or on the reggae-tinged “So Peaceful.”
In her signature black and white outfits and white Nike Air Force 1’s, she’s got the charisma and style of a Janelle Monae meets Maria Von Trapp at a nightclub. The live experience is like the feeling of euphoria after a sugar rush, but with a purpose, and it’s all inspiring and liberating all while bringing people together. Jain took some time to speak with NYCMonthly.com about hearing her song for the first time at a grocery store in France, why she loves New York and how she keeps the crowd dancing…
You just made your U.S. TV debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in February in New York. Was there a lot of pressure for you to play this show or with your years performance was it second nature?
Yes, I was very nervous because it was my first TV show in the U.S., it was something big for me. Because I’m from a small town in the south of France, and I was on this big TV show in New York, and I’m really happy to have done it.
You come from Toulouse, France, but you have also lived in Congo as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Your previous homes seem to really have informed your music sound and style. As you know New York is one of the biggest melting pots in the world. Have you felt the cultural
variation in New York during your visits here?
The first time I went to New York I think was about five years ago and yeah, I really fell in love with this city because there’s a lot of different cultures and music and different acceptance, and that’s what I want to do with my music, and that’s why I really enjoyed New York.
Your debut single “Come” has alone landed in spots for Orange in France, JEEP Wrangler in Italy, El Corte Ingles in Spain and most recently in the Netflix series “Santa Clarita Diet.” Do you remember the first time you heard one of your songs in a commercial or show?
I don’t watch so much TV, I have got to say, but a lot of my friends heard. [Regarding Santa Clarita Diet]: I was really surprised to hear it also. I have a lot of tweets of about it and I was like
what’s going on? I knew about it like a week before but I didn’t know so much about the series, so I’m very happy. [Regarding first time she heard her music]: Yeah, I think actually I was in a supermarket and I was buying bread and stuff and I heard my song “Come” and I screamed
in the middle of the shop and it was very surprising. When I was at the beginning, I thought maybe I’d hear a song during my shopping and that’s what happened and it was quite funny.
Besides your infectious new single “Makeba,” your music seems to have a lot of positive elements and themes on songs like “Hope,” “Heads Up” and “So Peaceful.” As you know, there are so many uncertain questions in our world right now. How important is your music to
bringing people together?
I wrote this album between the Congo, Dubai and in France, so it’s special for me to have this open mind and this peaceful spirit because it’s all about my music and it’s all about me. My goal is to familiarize people with my music and make them forget about their everyday life. That was my ambition when I started to make music.
You have already played Mercury Lounge and Brooklyn’s Rough Trade last year, and on April 6 you are playing Bowery Ballroom, one of the venues in New York City that most major talents come through at the start of their careers. What do you think will be most memorable to New Yorkers and U.S. audiences about your live show?
I heard a lot about this venue because a lot of my technicians knew about this venue so it’s very special for me. Last time it was very joyful and people were dancing and there were some French but also some Americans, and that’s actually what I want, and I can’t wait to be back. When I’m alone on stage I use some machines, loop machine so I can record my voice and make harmony, there’s a lot of rhythm and dancing with the audience.