In an era of intense political disunity, when the world seems suddenly and acutely aware of the stark lines drawn between differing cultures, artists will rise to remedy. French singer/songwriter Jeanne Galice, known professionally as Jain, is one of the artists whose music aims to band the divided.
Jain, who credits her globally diverse upbringing as having greatly influenced her sound, creates vibrant pop songs, featuring various African and middle-eastern rhythmic styles. Her mother is half Malagasy and her father’s work moved the family around the world. She has lived in Dubai, Congo, Abu Dhabi, and France—to name a few.
Her music is seemingly borderless, devoid of singular origin, drawing heavily on her multicultural coming of age. The finished product is enticing and impossible to ignore. Jain’s songs are infectious, her rousing mix of French techno beats evoke shoulder shakes and knee bounces from even the stiffest of bodies. “I really wanted to make something that’s real…that unifies people… and what is amazing with music is that it’s international… everybody is listening to music and everybody dances,” says Jain.
DRESS, TENBY. COAT, SHARON WANG.
It is this concept infused in Jain’s debut album, Zanaka, that is most compelling. Her music breathes with an air of activism, whether intentional or not. It begs the listener to hear beyond their borders. This is art that transcends entertainment. Her music is not just a call to dance, but a call to be better, to be more accepting, to be curious.
Jain cites Miriam Makeba as a preeminent influence in her musical style. Upon the realization that Makeba’s music and civil rights activism was unbeknownst to most of her French friends, she wrote a song which she named after her hero. “I think that there is not a lot of recognition for strong women in the music industry. [Makeba]…fought against apartheid, was a great singer, was composing songs, and she was helping a lot of African countries. I really wanted to give her this homage…to make young people ask themselves Who is Miriam Makeba?”
“Makeba” earned notoriety in the US after its feature in the Levi’s “Circles” commercial. The song reached the top of Billboard’s TV Commercials chart for February 2018.
“Heads Up” is another one of Jain’s more revolutionary songs. Finding herself daunted by the uptick in ultra-conservative politics, Jain wondered how others were coping with similar fears. She wanted to write an anthem evoking pride and an appeal to endure, even in the face of racism and oppression.
TOP, TENBY. HAT, WOODHOUSE.
“I want [my music] to talk to everybody around the world, because I think we can feel the same things, and we understand what’s happening in politics. It’s not only in France, or the US, or England, it’s happening everywhere…music unites people and we shouldn’t be scared of anyone and we should stick together… I think music can speak to everybody.”
When asked if Jain is ever worried that her diverse sound and active message might deflect a certain audience, she answered without without hesitation: “I’m not making music to be liked by everybody. I’m very happy that the venues that I book are full, that’s what is important to me, to just make people dance… and if people don’t like it then, you know, there are other choices of music around.”
Jain, herself, has been listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar. The rap icon won the Grammy for Best Music Video, the same category for which “Makeba” received a nomination. She’s also been reaching back into the roots of her youth, listening to Bob Marley’s more soulful and melodic tracks. When asked if that’s the type of sound listeners can expect to hear on her next album, Jain was evasive: “It’s a little bit of a secret because it’s not done yet, so maybe it can change at any moment.
She will be touring this summer at French festivals, followed by an international tour for her forthcoming album (dates and locations to be decided). True to her music’s message, Jain plans to take full advantage of her tour travels. “I am going to meet new artists that have different influences and will inspire me. I’m very excited!”
COAT, GUSTAV VON ASCHENBACH.