French pop singer Jain is ready to march her new album Souldier across North America.
Q: The title track on Souldier was inspired by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL, in 2016. Reviewers have touched upon the album being a response to the rampant rise of racist and fascist politics in modern Europe. Is it?
A: I started the music to Souldier when I was in the Congo, where the music being made was for dancing, and I wanted to keep that vibe in my own music but also to add a very European vibe and talk about what moves me — which is this really bad period we are in in Europe, the U.S., and what we must fight.
Q: Is it hard to keep the positive message of love and understanding moving through your work given those harsh realities of neo-Nazis being called good people, acts of terror, attacks on women’s rights and so on?
A: For me optimism is about keeping going, keeping fighting and feeling myself and my beliefs in my music, and hoping it affects others. My whole thing is mixing cultures, and today we aren’t doing that. Many want to close the doors and I want to open them. Songs like Inspecta — which is a mash-up creation based around the Inspector Gadget theme — help with that, too, because they make everybody smile.
Q: In Europe, you are well established and a big live concert draw. Here, you are back in small venues and working to bring people over to songs such as the electro-reggae Feel It or percussive love song Oh Man.
A: It’s really an interesting experience that I’m really grateful for, where we have a really good relation with Quebec and Canada and are starting from zero, mostly. I have to relearn my job, relearn how to move people, and reach those who are not from my own culture. Even with all the considerable talent you have in North America already, I think there can be a place for me, too.
Q: You do most of your writing and recording, as well as your live shows, on your own. Are you are solo on this tour, too?
A: With a lot of machines along for the ride, as well as my voice and guitar. It’s like a mixture between a Jamaican sound system and a singer-songwriter with big beats getting dropped on top of me singing and playing to give the music much more depth. You get into it.
Q: Given the importance of equipment to your sound and your creative process, is there one thing you really couldn’t deliver the Jain experience without?
A: My computer. I do everything on it, always composing on the road and the plane, and without it I’m not producing. Pro Tools software and the enormous amount of percussion samples that are available to use with it are key to my sound development. I studied percussion, and can bring my ideas directly into the computer with some extra apps; pretty incredible, really.