Words Abigael Paquet: Photos Tacha Tassin – Matthieu Bizeul
Jahneration is a French reggae music duo, composed of Théo and Ogach. The two friends met in High School and never left each other’s side since. They had the chance to work with big artists such as Dub Inc, Nâaman, Danakil … The two friends also got to tour in many countries around the world and are looking forward to discover many more.
Abby: Could you tell us a bit about you ? How was Jahneration created ?
Théo: Well, Jahneration was created in 2009, with Ogach and I. We actually had a rock band at first, with some friends … We each had our own rock band, and we used to like each other’s stuff … And we met at the train station one day, in 2009. At that stage, he [Ogach] had left his band and I had left mine. So, we thought: “let’s make a band together !” Then we started recruiting friends and were playing rock music, but by the end of the first rehearsal we decided that it wasn’t going to work and that we were going to change our genre. We thought: “why not reggae music ?!” since we all liked it and listened to that kind of music. And we also thought it was creative since there wasn’t anyone around us who played reggae music, no one knew reggae and no one had that culture … So, we thought we might be onto something !
So, anyway, we wrote some songs and recorded them, and began to distribute them around in High School … until, one day, where we found Naâman. We thought it would be cool to collaborate with him, so we sent him a message on Facebook, and he replied back saying it would be great ! We asked him if he’d rather something like ‘proper reggae’ or more ‘hip-hop reggae’ and he chose the latter one, so that’s what we did. We met up, recorded the song, filmed the video clip and released it. And a month later, he was already on his first headlining tour. We always kept in contact with him and he has invited us to a lot of parties in Paris and stuff … So, we kind of grew together. Until we found and signed with a record label in 2015.
Abby: Oh, so it took a while !
Théo: Well yeah, but we didn’t really know if we were going to be professional musicians or not like … We were also studying at the time. I studied communication, while Ogach went to business school, so we didn’t really know … Until we had a fanbase, and there were a few people who were really interested in developing the whole project so we went with it.
Abby: Is there a country where you loved playing, more than any other ? Or give us your top 3 if you can’t pick.
Théo: Yeah, I can’t pick just one because there were several countries which were pretty important regarding Jahneration’s development. The first one was India, in 2016. We went on tour, after finding our musicians, for less than 3 months and went straight to India to play 4 dates, which really got us all closer together. We also did our first episode of ‘On The Way’ over there ! This trip was definitely super important as it created an infallible bond between us all. Also, Tahiti, where we went last June, was incredible. And thirdly, we recently toured in Germany and discovered that there was really something mad happening over there.
(Photo 1 Tacha Tassin – Photo 2 Matthieu Bizeul)
Abby: Oh yeah ?
Théo: Yeah, yeah. We sold out in Munster ! So, yeah, we discovered that we had a really hyped German fanbase.
Abby: Awesome ! I think that the fact you guys sing in English probably helps as well, doesn’t it ?
Théo: Definitely helps to go abroad. I mean, we do sing in English, but Germans love rock, hip hop and reggae music. And The Live [latest album] is a combination of all of those, so they really liked it.
Abby: And is there a venue or country you haven’t played yet where you’d like to go to ?
Théo: Well, I think my general knowledge regarding venues is rather limited but regarding countries … I think Ogach will agree, but we’d love to tour in the US. It would be amazing.
Abby: Okey … But you recently were in Canada, so that’s pretty close !
Théo: Yeah, we went to Montreal, it was great ! Those international tours are mental because you get to meet people who have been listening to your music for years and know your songs miles and miles away from where we’re from ! It’s crazy, it’s literally a dream.
Abby: That’s awesome ! And is there an artist you like to work with the most and why ?
Théo: Personally, I love working with Naâman. We did a lot of feats with him, because it’s honestly magical. We like to work with people in general anyway, because it sublimates and brings something new to the music that we mightn’t have thought of.
Abby: And are there artists you haven’t collaborated with yet but would like to one day ?
Théo: For sure ! Damian Marley would be incredible ! A lot of Jamaicans, we admire this whole new generation or Jamaicans a lot. This kind of ‘revival generation’ you know, such as Kabaka Pyramid, Jesse Royal … I think we pretty much have the same inspirations, and they inspire us a lot as well.
Abby: Yeah, because you’ve worked with a great amount of artists already, such as Dub Inc.
Théo: Yeah ! They definitely inspire us a great deal and they always have ! And to be an open act for Dub Inc, working with Dub Inc, is honestly amazing. They’re our big brothers, like, and we only have unconditional love for them. Same as Danakil.
Abby: Yeah, big names !
Théo: Yeah, in France anyway.
Abby: Did covid have an impact on how you work/worked and on your music ?
Théo: Yeah it did. First of all, it forced us to stay indoors so it kind of forced us to make an album – which was a good thing ! So, that was pretty positive. It also allowed us to slow down a bit, like, we did 300 shows in 4 years so we were a bit tired. And, personally, I didn’t really know where I was at anymore, what I was doing and what for … I couldn’t make new music anymore. So it was an abrupt stop to it all.
It also postponed the gig in the Olympia [Paris], which was a bad thing, but also a good thing ! Because we really felt like we deserved to play in that venue. On a negative note, it definitely impacted the music and entertainment industry. I feel like people only go to gigs when they know the artists now, they don’t go to discover new things anymore. Big venues are always sold out, and smaller ones are struggling because people have less money nowadays and would rather put their money in something they know they like. They also don’t go out as much as they used to. So … covid did slow us down, along with a lot of other artists. But it still enabled us to see that we had a solid fanbase, which is definitely a positive thing.
Abby: Very good. And which songs do you like to play live the most, and why ?
Théo: It’s an interesting and tough question … I love ‘Consciousness’, I think it’s the most spiritual song we have, and it puts me in a state of gratefulness, plenitude, spirituality … I like the sound of this track, I like its lyrics … Meditation, you know ?
Abby: What was your worst moment on stage ?
Théo: I know Ogach’s one.
Abby: Go on, tell us !
Théo: Ah he fell off the stage once, during a show. There was some kind of protection at the front of the stage, and he thought it was solid. But it was just full of air and he fell down. I was singing, you know, and when I turned around I couldn’t see Ogach anymore. Then he just reappeared as he jumped back up onto the stage; he had fallen onto the barrier and could have really hurt himself !
And myself, I don’t have any really bad memories.
(Photo 1 Matthieu Bizeul – Photo 2 Tacha Tassin)
Abby: What would you do if you weren’t in a band ?
Théo: Ogach would still have worked in the music industry. When we started Jahneration as a professional band, he already had a job in Believe Digital. And I probably would have worked in communication, ads and stuff like that.
Abby: Are there questions you wish journalists would ask you but never or rarely do ?
Théo: No … We generally have good interviews.
Abby: Because questions might be a bit repetitive, no ?
Théo: Yes, I know the questions we don’t want to be asked … Having to explain where Jahneration comes from and stuff like that. But it has to be done, we need to introduce ourselves ! And we are lucky to be getting interviews.
Abby: And what are your and Ogach’s useless talents ?
Théo: Ogach could answer you … He’s literally Inspector Gadget ! He’s great at pen spinning. And mine would be … Uhm … That’s a hard question. I can whistle real loud.
Abby: Well that’s not bad ! Not everyone can do it … I can’t do it !
Théo: But it’s shite ! Like … I can cross-eye only one eye.
Abby: No way.
[Théo gave a great demonstration, and he wasn’t lying !]
Théo: There you go.
Abby: Perfect ! Is there anything you’d like to add ?
Théo: Looking forward to going to Ireland ! I’ve never been, and definitely can’t wait to come over.