Jack Gilinsky and Jack Johnson, Vine sensations, comedic inspirations, and now well-known pop artists explain their fame, their craft, and how they became who they are today. The duo discuss their aspirations, the social media stigma that has been attached to their work, and what they wish someone told them before they joined the music industry in our Summer 2018 issue.
If not YouTube or Vine, have you thought about going back to comedy?
Johnson & Gilinsky: I don’t think we necessarily left comedy. You can see it through our social media and when we’re onstage. It’s a part of us, we’ve always had a great sense of humor, that’s just who we are. In terms of making comedic content, I could see us doing stuff like SNL, kind of like how Justin Timberlake does. We just filmed an episode of Ridiculousness. That was a lot of fun. I don’t think it will ever leave us, but I can’t see it being our main focus.
I don’t think we necessarily left comedy. You can see it through our social media and when we’re onstage. It’s a part of us…
How did you react to being chosen as January’s “Artist of the Month” by Z100’s Elvis Duran?
J & G: Our parents watch the TODAY show every morning and the fact that Elvis Duran put us on the show was so crazy, shout out to him.
Who are your biggest inspirations musically and personally?
J: Eminem for me. He came from not a great upbringing and really made something of himself. I don’t have the same situation, but it made me feel like I could do this. Also, William Wallace, who led the Scottish revolution.
G: I’m definitely inspired by my mom. She’s such a chill human being, and I want to learn to be that way. Musically, Bono. When I saw U2 live in 2005, I was blown away. They’re live performance really inspired me. I also saw a Twenty One Pilots performance at [iHeartRadio Music Festival] in Vegas and they had such incredible stage presence. They really know their music and know how to perform.
Besides music, do you have any other interests?
J: Tons, we love sports! We’re not the best athletes, but we love it.
G: Definitely acting and modeling.
How involved are you in the writing, recording, and producing of the music? Describe to us your process.
J: It definitely varies from song to song, but generally we start with a beat, and a lot of time Gilinsky will hop in the booth and freestyle. We’ll also start with a therapy session and talk about everything and anything with no judgement. You have to be open, whether it’s about a girl or something a fan said or movies you’re watching. We think about what it is that we want to conceptualize, then we take it from there. The rap verse is normally the last thing we cut. The rest of it is up to the mixing and mastering. Then we go back and forth until we have the final product and something we’re proud of.
The most important thing is you can’t be around people that you feel like you can’t speak your mind with.
What do you think makes a good writing session?
J & G: I would just say being comfortable. You can’t go into the studio and not want to be there. You have to want to be there. If you’re not in a good place mentally, you don’t want to bring that energy into the studio, but at the same time, it’s good to have emotional feelings in there. It’s made up of good creative energy with good people. The most important thing is you can’t be around people that you feel like you can’t speak your mind with.
How do you handle mistakes during live performances?
G: We’ve had a million mistakes on stage over the years. Whether it’s technical or forgetting the words, the key is to keep moving and not show the crowd that something went wrong.
J: Just an example, at Wembley, the biggest of our lives, my pack fell off in the first 20 seconds. I couldn’t even hear myself thinking, let alone sing, but you have to keep moving and let the audience know that you’re continuing on. You have to take it in strides and not let the audience realize.
Given your current knowledge about the music industry, what do you wish you had known when you were just starting your careers?
J & G: One thing for me personally I wish I had known, you always hear that people are out to get you and no one is in it for the right reason. Sometimes it’s really tough to realize, but no one is in it for you; they’re in it for themselves. We never realized how someone so close to you could turn their back on you and throw you under the bus and completely screw you, just for their own well-being.
The problem is a lot of people see an opportunity and jump on it no matter what or who it hurts. That’s something I wish I could go back and tell myself.
It’s the butterfly effect, everything happens for a reason and to teach you a lesson.
What personal advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in music?
J: I would say make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s a total grind, and if you’re not ready for it, don’t start. But on the other hand if you’re passionate about it and that’s what you want to do, make sure you’re doing it for you.
G: Be ready for the business. You work so hard for these things, but it doesn’t happen overnight…but it makes everything worth doing.
Is there a song that was really difficult for you to write and put thoughts into words on paper? Or does it always come naturally for you?
J & G: I mean I would just say with the songs that we have out, it comes naturally. The ones that we struggle with, we normally put to the side. We will sometimes go back to it, but it normally doesn’t work.
Do you find that your best music comes when you set aside time to write or when it comes spontaneously?
J & G: I think when I set aside time to write, it’s the worst time to do it. When you feel inspired or you want to work on your craft, that’s the best time to do it. That’s the beauty of our craft, I can do that on a Tuesday afternoon and if it doesn’t work, I just go back to it. It has to be when you’re feeling it.
Is there anyone in specific you wish to collaborate with in the future?
J: There are so many.
G: If I’m dreaming, it would probably be someone like Pharrell. That would be such a dream for both of us. Even someone like Ziggy Marley. I don’t even need it to come out, just something that I can listen to so I know I did it. Something like that would be amazing.