Interview: Jack Gilinsky Talks “My Love” & Going Solo
After making the leap from social media sensations to fully-fledged pop stars, Jack & Jack were at the height of their popularity when they decided to press pause. Jack Gilinsky (the dark-haired, dreamy one) now becomes the first member to embark on a solo career with a sing-along banger called “My Love.” Featuring Don Toliver, the 23-year-old’s debut single is a perfectly calibrated R&B/pop hybrid that gets stuck in your head from the very first listen. It could well be the start of something big.
I recently called Jack G to find out how he is holding up in quarantine and ask about his decision to release “My Love” mid-pandemic. (The cogs were already in motion and he was desperate to connect with fans). The budding solo star also revealed that he has a lot of new music on the way, which will show different facets of his personality and artistry. Oh, and there are definitely plans for a Jack & Jack reunion further down the track. Get to know a little more about the next stage of his career in our Q&A below.
How are you holding up in quarantine?
I’m doing all right. I’m out here in Nebraska where I grew up. It’s way less populated than LA, so I feel a little bit safer.
It’s bold dropping your solo debut during a global pandemic. Was everything already all in place?
Everything was in place, like you said, but it actually was almost the opposite. Once we got into quarantine, I just found myself so bored and I wanted to do things. So we made the decision to put it out while we were in quarantine. It’s definitely not what any of us expected, but I just wanted to get music out there. I wanted to start this thing because I was feeling so cooped up. I just wanted to get to work.
Why was “My Love” the perfect song to launch with? Apart from it being incredibly catchy.
Thank you so much. “My Love” was something we were debating for months and months. We had a bunch of different options, but “My Love” was always the one that stuck out to us as genuine to me and to the music that I like to listen to. I also love that it’s a song that I wrote fully. We didn’t want to think too hard about it. We knew we were going to put out so much music, but we felt this was the right one to put out first. It just felt good. I’m really glad that it’s the one we kicked it off with.
How did you get Don Toliver on it? He’s really blowing up.
Yes, he’s very popping. We got him because my manager knew his manager, so they had a relationship. I reached out to my manager to see if it was possible and he was like, “I’ll ask. No promises.” But Don ended up being down. He sent us a verse within a week of asking, and it was amazing. I just knew that was the guy to put on the song, so I’m really lucky.
I believe JR Rotem produced it. Did you work on more than one song together?
He’s such a cool guy. We actually developed a really close relationship in the weeks that we were working together. We had about seven studio sessions. “My Love” was the first song that we made on the very first day, so that was also a sign to put it out first. It came together in my very first studio session as a solo artist. I have a ton of music from JR, so I can’t wait to see what ends up coming out next.
Did you already have lyrics or notes written for “My Love” when you went in the studio?
No, it literally happened in the first 60 minutes of us being there. I didn’t have anything written down. I made sure to go into that first solo studio session with a clear mind. I didn’t want any preconceived ideas or anything like that. It honestly came out so fast. It’s just such a good feeling. When we heard it for the first time, we had to literally play it back five or six times. We were like, “Yo, this is really crazy”. That was back in July.
You’ve been sitting on the song since July?!
Yes, it’s been a while. It’s kind of crazy. It’s coming up on a year. Trust me, I had so much pressure from the fans. No one knew what was going on. I had to keep my mouth shut. Jack J and I, we both had to keep our silence even though we knew it was coming. I think that builds the excitement anyway, so I’m glad we did it the way we did. I’m so glad that it’s out now.
Is there an EP or album on the way?
There’s nothing submitted and nothing ready to go, but I can definitely tell you that there’s a project on the way. I just can’t tell you when it’s coming. I can tell you for sure that I will be releasing another single in the next two months. It’s one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever made. It probably is my very favorite song that I’ve ever made, nothing against “My Love.” It’s just something about this next single that I feel even more connected to. I can’t wait for you to hear that one. I’m excited to see what you think.
I can’t wait to hear it. Is it similar to “My Love”?
It’s funny that you asked because I would not put it in the same vein as “My Love.” I feel like the only thing that holds it together is the fact that it is also catchy like “My Love,” and it’s also my voice. You’re definitely going to hear a lot of similarities in my tone, but it’s not like “My Love.” It’s not as much of a banger. It’s more of a chill, happier vibe. For some reason, it really hits home with me. I really think it’ll resonate with my fans.
Jack & Jack were killing it when you pressed pause. What prompted the change?
That’s something I’ve been getting asked a lot because we were at the height of our career. We were having so much fun as a duo. On our last tour, we looked at each other when we were on stage a couple times and smiled. It’s those moments that you realize like, “Wow, we’ve really accomplished more than we ever could have dreamed of”. We were just ready to take the next step while we’re still young. We want to make sure that we can show our full potential to everyone who follows us, and we just felt the way to do that was to go our individual ways.
Obviously, we’ll stay best friends because that will never change. But in terms of creating music, we wanted to try to see what we can do on our own. We knew we were going to get a lot of pushback from our Day One fans because we were doing so well, and it felt like we were on the cusp of something great. But I feel like we really accomplished so much more than we ever anticipated, and by taking a step away from Jack & Jack, it’s only going to make it that much more special when we go back to it.
I’m so excited to not only work on my individual stuff for the next however long it is, but also I’m so excited to go back and work with Jack Johnson. It’s already been eight months since we’ve been in the studio together, so we’re going to really make some great stuff when we come back together.
It’s so cool that you’re already planning a reunion.
For sure, because our business, it was always the back seat to our friendship. I feel like it will always stay that way. Whenever we feel like coming back and doing our music, we’ll do that. I feel like we’ll stay best friends no matter what.
Is there more pressure on you as a solo artist?
Yes, there’s definitely a lot more pressure. At least, that’s just the way I feel and I know I’m very much in my head. I don’t want to make anybody feel like I’m being disingenuous. I just want to make sure that I’m being respectful to all of our existing fans, but at the same time, there’s pressure to make new fans. Of course, there are nerves involved, but I’m just so excited to be on my own — showing the world who I am as an individual. I’m just so grateful that I’m in this position to show who I truly am.
Is it true that you made the video with Diane Martel via FaceTime?
It’s such a crazy story. When I got back to Omaha from LA, we were debating whether to put the song out with a video or without a video. Then we decided to make a quarantine video. That way we could just have fun with it. It was me with an iPhone, and sometimes my mom would help. Sometimes my dad would help. Sometimes my friend Josh would help. It was never too serious, but it was funny because we really did the whole thing over FaceTime. Diane Martel is so, so talented, and she made it look as good as it could for what it is.
I think it’s really cool because it gives you a back behind the scenes look, and you can see what my life is like at home. I’m in the sheets. I’m at home. I’m dancing in the backyard. These are just the vibes that I give off when I’m at home anyways, so I’m glad that I can put it out there. But also I’m really excited to get back to LA and film a high-budget music video for my next single. I feel like my fans deserve to see a really, really cool spectacle.
Do you have any other collaborators lined up on songs?
Yes, for sure. Don Toliver was really the first and only one that we have been planning on for a while. I feel like now that I’ve come out of a duo, a lot of fans want to see me 100 percent alone on the track. I can’t blame them because I can’t wait for them to see what I can do alone on a track. For the next couple of singles, it’ll definitely just be me, but I’m very much looking forward to collaborating with some big artists at top 40 radio and getting a song to be spun on radio.
As for producers, there’s my boy J Kash, who is executive-producing my entire project, and also my boy Johnny Yukon. He’s 23 and he writes these amazing songs. He actually helped to write my second single, which I’m so excited about. Those are the only collaborators I can speak about right now, but I promise you I will be working with amazing producers. Someone I really want to work with is Benny Blanco. I think his beats are amazing. Another person is Marshmello, I love how versatile he is at producing.
How does it feel now that “My Love” is out in the world?
It’s a very satisfying and vulnerable feeling at the same time. It was amazing though. Once it came out, the fans gave me such an amazing reaction, and they showed me so much love on social media. Now, the song is taking on a life of its own on apps like TikTok. On Spotify and on Apple music, it actually streamed more times yesterday than it did the day before, which for me is like the number one indication of a good song because that means people are coming back and showing their friends and more people are hearing it each day that goes by.
I’m blown away by the support that I’ve received, and I cannot wait to keep working hard and doing things like this and going on the radio to talk about my song and singing it online and just showing the world that it’s really who I am. I can’t wait for people to finally see me for just me. To answer your question, it was so exciting, and I’m still so excited. As you can tell, I can talk all day about this. I’m just so excited.
Congratulations. It’s a great song. Good luck with everything.
Thank you so much, man. It’s been so, so nice chatting with you. Stay safe and healthy.