French singer-songwriter and musician Jain is a new breed of pop artist–a millennial-aged, globetrotting purveyor of visual art and sound who works tirelessly at fusing disparate influences to create music that’s captivating and fresh. Born in Toulouse, Jain’s father worked in oil, so she spent her childhood divided between culturally saturated cities like Abu Dhabi, Congo, and Dubai, eventually making her way to Paris for art school. Her area of focus was visual art, which she continues to pursue (Jain created the EP artwork for her debut release Hope), but since living in Africa as a young girl her primary passion has been music.
The tracks that make up Jain’s newly released Hope EP are adventurous and bold, boasting a definitive African influence that makes itself known from the rhythmic contours of “Come” and the striking melodic workouts of “Makeba.” And, despite mentioning the continent by name on two of the EP’s four songs, Jain never comes across as a tourist, cherrypicking whatever exotic styles and sounds fit her brand. She started making music in the small, coastal Congolese town of Pointe Noire, a city Jain calls her favorite place in the world. Jain maintains that musical education in her music, each track she writes seems to be in some way informed by the people she met and the experiences she had while living in Africa. But her general approach to writing and recording music is more cosmopolitan, extending beyond the places she’s lived to include the genres that incite personally intrigue. Jain’s music reaches simultaneously for hip-hop, electronic dance, dub, reggae, soul, and the blues, and her efforts thus far have been wildly successful.
Watch Jain perform an unreleased track called “Hob,” live for C à Vous.
Indie Current: Where is the strangest place you’ve ever recorded a song?
Jain: The strangest place was definitely in Congo… I met a Congoleese beatmaker over there, Mister Flash, and he had a micro studio, with one mic that didn’t work all the time and one old computer, it was really funny, I loved it, I think it’s my favorite studio of all time…
IC: Who did you collaborate with when recording the album?
J: I worked with Maxime Nucci, my producer. We tried a lot of different directions for this album. He’s really into blues and rock and I’m more into African music and hip-hop, so it was a very interesting collaboration.
IC: What song are you most excited for people to hear on your forthcoming album Zanaka? Why?
J: I think it’s “Makeba,” because it’s the most recent one, and it’s about “Miriam Makeba,” a person whom I admire. I think this song shows a kind of direction that I want to keep …
IC: What is the most uncommon instrument used on Zanaka?
J: In “Makeba” we used a glass bottle for the percussion.
IC: What is your instrument of choice when writing songs?
J: I love to begin with guitar, for the melody and then try a different sort of rhythm on my computer..
IC: Have you performed outside of France yet? What has been your favorite city to perform in and why?
J: I perfumed in Belgium, Switzerland , in Madagascar, in Abu Dhabi. I think my favorite place was in Madagascar, because my mother is from this island so it’s was very special.
IC: Can you briefly describe your relationship with Africa? What has it meant to you personally since living in Congo? In what ways might this effect your music?
J: Congo is the place where I discovered music and rhythm, we always listened to a lot of African singers at home, so it’s where I’m musically born and it’s where I found myself. So it’s a very important place for me and it influenced me a lot on my own writing, in the melody, the lyrics, and everything.
IC: Who are some artists making music right now that you respect?
J: Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, asap rocky, Tame Impala, Foals. I loved all their new albums…
IC: What is your current guilty pleasure song?
J: I think it’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” by Rihanna. haha
Watch the music video for “Come” below.