"It’s like being vulnerable on my own for the first time..."

Jack Gilinsky is solo for the first time in his career, and he’s owning his truth with every step...

- - -

- - -

Jack Gilinsky has been on press runs before, yet when he Zooms me from his Los Angeles home in August and understandably bounces around looking for a proper WiFi connection, he admits things feel a bit new at the moment. A bit unfamiliar.

And it's not a bad feeling either. He’s adjusting to his first solo interviews after he and his long-time best friend, musical partner and ride-or-die Jack Johnson put their musical partnership on hold. Since 2014 – well, childhood really – the pair have lit up the music world as social-media-made hip-hop pairing Jack & Jack, becoming one of the first organic musical acts to branch out from Vine and conquer the airwaves, make a successful career out of it and see award nods all across the globe. For full transparency, Gilinsky and I even joked about how he earned a Brit nomination without even having to be British, further emphasizing just how much of an impact the pair have had.

But a hiatus is a hiatus (although the two are literally still recording together at the moment). And right now, Jack is fielding questions that he’s likely heard a million times before, but only had to answer half of the time. “When he comes in [to conversations], he kind of holds my hand through it all, so I kind of miss that,” Gilinksy said. “I miss that a lot. But I still love having my own voice. That’s the exciting part.”

- - -

- - -

Right now, as Gilinksy is starting to realise for the first time in his career, is about him and him only. For the first time in his career, he can see his own legal name on Spotify. For the first time in his career, he’s exploring sounds that he would’ve never imagined. And for the first time in his career, this interview is his for the taking. “It definitely feels like a debut,” Gilinksy says. “It’s like being vulnerable on my own for the first time.”

Back in April, Gilinsky released his first solo single, ‘My Love’ featuring Cactus Jack Records’ own Don Tolliver. The release was a thrilling sonic jump for the solo singer, and the first time we’ve heard him take the reins on a track alone, even with a superstar feature backing him. Gilinsky admits it might throw fans of his previous work off a bit, since it channels some of the R&B the 23-year-old crooner has grown up on, but it’s hard to ignore the number of fans already paying attention - four million worldwide listeners have already tuned into the track on Spotify.

“It's the only song right now so you might feel like it's very different from the sonics of Jack & Jack,” Gilinksy says. “It’s just more in my own lane, which might be a slightly more R&B vibe, for the most part just because like that's what I listen to all the time. But I still like pop music and I really do like a good radio song and like those things as well.”

- - -

- - -

For his first single, Gilinsky wanted to do something big. And when he realized he could bring Tolliver into the mix, he didn’t give it a second look. He even compares hosting Tolliver to hosting an ‘05 Kanye West feature; it’s going to be timeless.

“Even though he's coming up right now, I think people really like him,” Gilinsky said. “But I think there's always that question like, ‘Is this person going to stay relevant?’ He might be one of the greats. So for him to be on one of my singles, especially my very first song, I can't wait to see what that looks like in 10 years. I really see him becoming a hip-hop legend, because he's so unique… So to me, that's why I was so excited to put him on one of my songs.”

Gilinsky is now cooking up his first solo project via Island Records in quarantine as he bounces from his home in Omaha, Nebraska – to celebrate his sister’s wedding – to kicking it with his Omaha-born boys in LA. He admittedly hopes fans avoid comparing the project to his previous work, but he knows that they won’t be able to fully understand the exact sound he’s going for until they hear it in full, for now his first two singles are sonic antonyms. “I really think it's tough to become a diehard fan of an artist, but you need that first project that kind of convinces you, ‘OK, I really rock with this person.’ And so that's what I'm looking forward to, just to gain some fans.” 

- - -

- - -

With his Omaha peers surrounding him now in Cali, Gilinsky also has his sights set on starting his own music collective alongside Johnson. It’s all preliminary, he tells me, but he’s always wanted to do something bigger for Omaha. And the platform he has – and is currently building with this solo work – could give him that chance. 

“There's so many talented kids in Omaha who make music and we want to give some of those people a voice more-so than what they have already,” Gilinsky shares. “Me and Johnson, we know that we have a certain platform that not everyone has access to especially from Omaha, Nebraska and we would just love to put on the Omaha music scene on a little bit and we would put out something of an Omaha tape if that makes sense. Something like Brockhampton, you know, they're all best friends and they all make music and some of them might be on this song, some of them might be on that song, but together they are Brockhampton. So I would love to do that. But that's there's no serious talks right now. We just put a studio in the house and we're just gonna have our boys come over and whatever happens, happens.”

- - -

- - -

Things are a lot more relaxed than they were even just last year with Jack & Jack, Gilinsky says. Even when the two saw their first million followers on Vine in January of 2014, they realised they could make something out of that following – which is the same drive Gilinsky seems to have to this day. “We talked about a couple things but we always came back to music, that’s always been the goal,” he shares. “When we had this fanbase to market our music to, we went into the studio in Omaha and we made a good amount of money for our first release when everything was on iTunes… it gave us that confidence, like ‘Oh, shit, we should probably forget about college for a little bit.’

But even the highs of being a touring and award-winning musician, which entered Gilinksy’s life as the group progressed, still haven’t gotten old for him yet. “There are bigger moments throughout the last seven years where you’re forced to think about reality and how grateful you are for the life that we get to live - going on big stages and performing, stuff like that,” Gilinsky says. “We aren’t on Jay-Z or Kanye’s level, but it’s cool because we are on a level we’d never imagine ourselves being [at] until we kind of pushed ourselves to these limits and got to these places on our own.”

- - -

- - -

Gilinsky is now certain he wants his full-length project to be something for fans to lean on, and something that will finally give them that chance to hear what he’s capable of on his own. He’s ready for them to know who Jack Gilinsky is, and he’s hoping to see some of that same love he’s seen pour in over the last six years, even if it is just him this time around.

“I want to gain the respect of the fans that I already have,” Gilinsky says. “And let them know that like, I'm serious about this and I can't wait to give them quality content in all aspects. But specifically with the songs. Every time you meet a fan, they say, ‘Oh, this song changed my life.’ Or, you know, ‘This song helped me when I was in a dark place,’ or ‘This song inspires me to be a better person or musician or artist.’ And that's the best. That's why you make music in my opinion. So I just hope that I can get those kind of reactions for my first project.”

- - -

- - -

Words: Brenton Blanchet
Photography: Scott West
Fashion: Brian Paulson
Creative Direction: Rob Meyers

Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

 

-

Follow Clash: