JAIN Reveals Her Tarot-Inspired Songwriting Process for The Fool

Saint Audio had the opportunity to sit down with French artist JAIN and discuss her new album, The Fool, which is available now on streaming services. Check out what she had to say about the album and her creative process below. 

Can you talk about what inspired The Fool and what we can expect from this new album?

The Fool was inspired by the tarot of Marseilles, which my mother has read since I was a little girl. The Fool’s card represents a new departure in the unknown and taking a risk. That’s what I wanted to do with this album, to make a new artistic proposition, different from the previous one.

How do you feel your music has evolved over time and who/what are your influences? You seem to have a wonderful mix of genres from soul to pop to synth—how do you mold these to create your own sound?

During the lockdown, I listened to all my parent’s vinyl records, and most of them were from the late 70’s and 80’s. They had all of Kate Bush’s, Fleetwood Mac’s, David Bowie’s, and Joan Baez’s albums! I felt like a new musical world opened while listening to them. I started to become a fan of music with soul music, reggae, and hip-hop. Through the years, I have always tried to be curious about opening up to new genres,  and this journey was a bit more psychedelic. When I write, I feel like all of my influences are mixed together.

As a French artist who sings in English (as well as a woman raised in the UAE and Congo), can you talk about both your audience and how these cultures intermix in your work?

I was lucky to spend all of my teen years abroad; we were moving from one country to another every three years. That’s why I started to write in English: because nowadays it’s a universal language, and I wanted to communicate with people, in France but also elsewhere. These years in Abu Dhabi and the Congo, really influenced me, as an artist but also as a person. I wrote ‘Zanaka’ when I was living in the Congo for example and I think you can hear the influence of Rumba in it. Plus, my mother is half French and half Malagasy, and she clearly passed on to me the idea of mixed cultures.

Are you looking forward to being on tour in Europe? Do you enjoy performing and do you feel as though your music takes on a different quality when performed live?

Yes, and I really can’t wait. The stage is where I feel really happy. It’s something else to be on stage and presenting your work in front of a live audience. After the COVID-19 lockdown, I feel really blessed to do what I do and be able to create a connection with people. It’s so important. 

Let’s talk about the titular track. How did you conceive that song in particular? And what do you think about when creating an opening track?

I went to Marseilles, alone, with my guitar. I wanted to be free from all the production side and get back to something more pure. I was living just next to the sea and at night we could see all the stars really clearly. It was super inspiring. That’s where I wrote ‘The Fool’ and I think that’s why this song is quite ethereal in a way. This song talks about a new departure in my life, and it was a good way to start this album.

The video of The Fool is very surreal as it throws us into this version of space that is full of unlikely camera angles and ways to interact with the objects in space. How did you conceive and execute this vision?

When I was writing, I was drawing at the same time (for each song I drew a card of the Marseilles’ Tarot). The one I drew for the fool was a tightrope walker walking in outer space. That’s when the idea for the music video came. I met Jules Jolly, the director, and talked to him about this surrealist idea and he was really inspired by it. You can see his very poetic vision in the music video.

The other stand-out track on the album is ‘Maria’. There’s something very personal about the lyrics and composition. Can you talk about how you composed this song and how it fits into the broader story of the album?

‘Maria’ is the second song that I wrote, just after ‘The Fool’ in Marseilles, only with my guitar. I felt really free to try new things with my voice as nothing around compelled me. It’s a declaration of love that I wanted to keep super pure. The card it is associated with is ‘the lovers’.

The lyrics videos for the tracks on The Fool contain tarot cards. Why did tarot feel like the appropriate imagery to accompany these songs? Were there any songs that were particularly easy—or difficult—to match to their tarot card? Why or why not?

The tarot is something I grew up with; we used to read it during joyful evenings with my family. The more I was writing the album the more this concept seemed obvious to me. The Tarot is quite surrealist and cosmic, you can find cards as ‘the moon,’ ‘the sun,‘ etc. It fitted perfectly with this album. The game I’ve drew is a reinterpretation; so, I felt quite free to associate the songs and cards together. 

What is your favorite part of the creative process? What’s your strategy for when you are struggling to ideate?

It’s always a little hard to start a new project and to make the first step in the void. But once you’re in it, and have a kind of vision, it’s the best thing ever. I don’t have any strategy when I’m struggling, I just let the process be. Time is a good thing for creation. 

Is there anything else coming up for you in the future that we should be excited about?

Well, the tour, and hopefully new songs! 

Stream The Fool now, and follow JAIN on Instagram.

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