Jain On How Coachella Helps International Artists, Honoring Miriam Makeba's Legacy & More
GRAMMY-nominated French artist Jain makes upbeat yet socially conscious inspired pop music. Using sounds and inspiration from her global upbringing, Jain (born Jeanne Louise Galice) left her hometown of Toulouse, France, with her family when she was nine. From then until she was 18, she lived in Dubai, the Congo and Abu Dhabi before returning to France to attend art school in Paris, where she lives now.
Jain made her Coachella debut at Gobi stage last Saturday, her first U.S. show of the year, and will be returning this weekend for round two. Not only that, but Jain just dropped her first new music since her 2018 album Souldier, a single called "Gloria," which she has been playing on tour in Europe.
We caught up with Jain on the ground in Indio, where she touched on her first Coachella experience, how living abroad has informed her artistry, and much more.
You had your Coachella debut yesterday; how did you feel to share your music at this festival, on this platform?
Well, it was amazing and this show was really cool. We have a lot of fun with the crowd, so I couldn't have been going any better. I was feeling really lucky to be there today in this festival because it's one of the biggest festivals in the world. And in France, it's well known also. Because always there are French artists that are playing over there. So we were really, really happy.
The international contingent of artists on the lineup this year is really strong; what does it feel like to you to be a part of it?
It was amazing because for me to be able to play as a French artist. I'm from a little town from the south tip of France, to be able to play in Coachella and meet other artists from all over the world and to connect with people that I love from my hometown is something amazing. And it shows the real power of music is to be united with something that everybody loves. And that's why music is so international. And I think it's great that a big festival like Coachella makes this actually. It helps a lot of artists.
Yeah. I agree. Were you able to check out any other artists at the festival? Was there anyone you were really excited about?
You spent time growing up around the world. How do you think living in these different place inspired your art and music?
It really gave me this need to express myself. Because when you are a teenager and you have to be new in a new high school and make new friends and make friends again, sometimes you get this feeling of loneliness. And for me it was why I was writing music, it was because I felt lonely and I wanted to make kind of therapy with it. So I don't know if I would have done music if I haven't traveled. So the traveling and discovering new countries meant everything for me and my songwriting.
Do you feel like that caused you to grow up more quickly? To have a more mature themes or ideas with your music?
Yeah, I'm definitely sure about this. My music would be very, very different if I haven't traveled. And it's true that when you're young, you're fast and there's no concern with people, actually. When you're doing music and you're young, you can be in a band with different people with different stories also. And that's why I really loved it.
You released your sophomore album, Souldier, last year. What did you wish to communicate with that album?
For me, Souldier is the part two of [debut album] Zanaka, the rest of my experience in the Middle East. The two albums work together. For me, Zanaka was more about when I was 16, 18 years old, and Souldier is the rest. I really wanted to put music that I was listening to and I was listening to—Arabic kind of music, hip-hop, some Rumba from the Congo. And I really wanted to make people travel by listening to my music. I always write about something that moves me. And something, it can be something bad or something sad like the killing in the nightclub of Orlando. I always try to put some optimism in it. I try to heal myself.
Your music video for "Makeba" was nominated for a GRAMMY at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. Can you explain the story behind that specific song and video?
When I worked with [French directors] Greg & Lio, for me it was really important to shoot it in South Africa because [the song's subject, musician Miriam Makeba] was from South Africa. And we were about to shoot this video in Soweto, which is outside of Johannesburg. It's where she grew up, actually. I really wanted for people to know her and to be able to share her legacy of music.
That's so cool. Is that something that's important for you, to share stories of other female artists or other people that might not have a platform like you have?
For me, it's really important because I was listening to Makeba since I was three years old. She's really part of my music intention. And when I grew up, I realized that actually a lot of my friends didn't know her. When I like an artist, especially a female artist, I really try to support. I think it's really important these days.