Jain, born Jeanne Galice, sits down with me in the dim, empty bar of New York City’s Bowery Ballroom just a few hours before she is set to play a sold-out show at this iconic venue. She is on the final leg of her first North American tour and has just sold out her shows in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Montreal.
Traveling is something that comes naturally to Jain. She was born in Toulouse, France and lived in Dubai, Congo and Paris throughout her childhood. The 25-year-old singer-songwriter is a product of her diverse background: influences from French techno and African rhythms can be found in her music.
Jain’s debut album Zanaka, released in 2015, was certified as a 2X Platinum record in France. Her hits “Come” and “Makeba” continue to pierce the airwaves, garnering praise across the globe. “Makeba” was written in honor of South African civil rights leader and singer Miriam Makeba, who was a figure of unity to Jain.
“I’m not trying to put any boundaries to my music. If I want to write about something, I do it. I attract a very open-minded audience. They know what to expect,” Jain says of pushing the confines of genre identity and educating her fans on different cultures through music.
Here, she shares stories from her nomadic childhood, reveals her music influences and tell us what she thinks of Justin Bieber.
How do you think your travels have influenced your music?
I don’t think I’d have the music if I didn’t travel. When you move around a lot as a child, it’s difficult to make friends. You’re always new. Music was where I felt at home. I was always trying to figure out what my home was. I didn’t feel French when I was in France but outside of France I felt very French. I found stability in music.
How does your music translate from the studio to live performance?
For me, they are two very different jobs. I love being in the studio and thinking only about music. Live performances are great when you have the energy from the crowd. In France, I play a lot of festivals and bigger arenas so it’s nice to get to play clubs here where you are closer to the audience.
What kind of music inspires you?
I try to listen to a lot of different music from rock to pop to reggae to electronic. I try to mix all that I like into one big melting pot. I grew up listening to a lot of reggae as a teenager and then a lot of The Beatles as well. I listened to Otis Redding, as well. A lot of Jamaican and soul music.
What is an artist or band that fans would be surprised to know you listen to?
Justin Bieber. He’s very talented. I don’t follow his personal life but I like his new music.