From his family home in Nebraska, the musician and Internet bae talks going solo from Jack & Jack alongside an exclusive FaceTime shoot.
If you were to grow a pop star in a lab, it would probably come out something like Jack Gilinsky. An Internet-savvy heartthrob from small-town America, he’s every music exec’s dream. But up until recently, he would have been considered an industry outsider.
Initially finding fame off of short-lived video app Vine, he followed the social media-to-stardom route as one half of Jack & Jack, alongside long-life friend Jack Johnson. Going from soundbite comedian to teeny-boppers, the duo spent their adolescence hard at work to turn social media currency into bonafide success. Years after paint-by-numbers first attempts, and now in their early twenties, they showcased a new musical maturity with last year’s A Good Friend Is Nice LP.
Just when the hype from that release died down, Jack announced his solo career earlier this year. So far, he’s on solid ground with debut single “My Love” — a sex-positive jam with a sultry video to match. He keeps it PG-13 during his interview with HUNGER, where he comes across every inch the earnest boy-next-door, despite his six million followers.
Alongside a FaceTime shoot by Elliot Morgan, Jack opened up about the pressures to be online and how is emotional health has been holding up under lockdown. Read on and melt.
Lovely to meet you! Let’s dive in with a big question: what are you passionate about?
Asides from music (obviously), a huge passion of mine is acting. I would love to land a role in a show or movie at some point. I’ve always been passionate about it and it’s something that me and my friends do all the time when we’re together; improvising or playing characters. I would love to be able to do that as my work someday.
So a double threat then. Let’s rewind a bit: what music did you grow up listening to?
I love all music to be honest — I think that’s why I tend to create a wide variety of sounds with my own songs. I can appreciate a good song no matter what the genre is.
Interesting! You first gained traction with Vine — in your expert opinion, what are the positive effects of social media for young musicians?
There are many positive effects of social media being a young musician right now, having a following on social media is key. It really allows you to market your music to a mass amount of people, all at one time.
There must be downsides as well, right? Like I’m sure that being a musician with such a large online following, there must be a pressure to be online?
There’s definitely pressure to be online. It’s one of my biggest stresses right now.. but it’s really important to engage and interact with your followers, especially in a time like this where everyone is stuck at home with little to do. Sometimes it’s tough for me to post consistently and I think it’s important to stay genuine, not force anything. So when I feel like iI don’t have anything quality to post, I just don’t post.
I wish more people took your approach TBH. Let’s switch from URL to IRL: what was your best moment from being in Jack & Jack?
There’s no “best Jack & Jack moment” for me, it was the entire journey that made me smile. We accomplished so much together, coming from Omaha, Nebraska and going onto perform for thousands of people around the world. We achieved something that we never thought was possible and I look forward to furthering our success individually…and together, we will always get creative when we’re hanging out.
It does seem like you’re a good creative match, so why did you decide to go solo?
Jack and I decided about a year ago that it was time for us to try this solo thing out, as something that we had always talked about. At the end of the day, we are both our own people and we want to explore our individual potential. We will always be best friends and there’s no doubt in my mind that we will work together again.
Okay, so there’s some hope there for the stans who want a reunion! But let’s talk more about what you’ve been up to on your own; I’m really interested in your “My Love” video. How does a music video come together during lockdown?
It took about two weeks to figure out how to shoot everything and get all the shots. I would FaceTime my creative director Diane Martel every morning and she would give me a list of shots she wanted me to try, which I would shoot and send over to her. Then at night she would go through all the footage and tell me what she did and didn’t like. That process restarted each day until we finally got to a point where we felt comfortable with it.
Sounds super laborious! Like a lot of trial and error was going on?
It was a wild and stressful experience, something that neither of us had ever attempted to do before. I’m happy with how it came out but it makes me really excited to get back to LA when all of this madness is over and shoot a real video for my next song.
Speaking of the madness, how have you been coping with lockdown?
It’s been interesting to say the least…definitely not what Ii had in mind for my first solo release! When all of this first started back in March, I went home to my hometown. I was thinking that I would be here for a couple weeks and then head back to LA and get back to work. Clearly that didn’t happen. I’m lucky to be safe and healthy in a home with my family, but I’m very ready for things to go back to normal.
Same! Let’s try and look ahead: what are your hopes for the next five years?
To be happy! I’d like to inspire people and show the world what I’m passionate about.
When you say you want to inspire people, do you have a particular message you’re hoping to get out there with your music?
I try to spread positivity, not just with my music, but with everything I do. I want to make the world a happier place and for the people who support me to feel like they’re a part of something special. I hope people feel something when they hear my voice or see me on their screens.
Check out the video for “My Love” below.
21 May 2020