JINJ: Crafting Sonic Vision
Published: September 18, 2023
Harmonizing cultural heritage and artistic innovation, JINJ emerges as a dynamic force in the Armenian music landscape. In this exclusive interview, the co-founder of JINJ, Sevana Tchakerian, sheds light on their vision, challenges, and the marriage between musical tradition and modernity. Join us as we delve into their experiences, insights, and aspirations.
JINJ stands as a notable participant in the Artbox Incubator program. The project also secured Artbox seed funding.
A: We didn’t create JINJ to bridge a gap but to express our vision of the music and Armenian culture. Gor and I are free thinkers and great appreciators of Armenian cultural heritage. I believe JINJ is a sonic and visual proof that freedom of creation and heritage appreciation can complement each other.
JINJ band during a performance in Vanadzor
A: Contrary to France, Canada, Estonia, and other countries, Armenia doesn’t have an art council, export bureaux, or cultural infrastructures to support artists. The absence of these institutions makes it extremely hard for Armenian artists to fund the possibility of developing their careers internationally, even when they get noticed abroad. A music band is a start-up and needs seed funding and investments. Besides rare initiatives like the ones provided by Creative Armenia, these funding and investment opportunities are practically non-existent in our Armenian reality. To me, this is the biggest challenge.
This problem is universal for music professionals: managers, agents, and labels.
Everything existing in Armenia is for the local Armenian market, which significantly differs from the international market.
Currently, artists who want to develop their careers internationally (outside of the Armenian diaspora) have a better chance of succeeding if they receive management from a team abroad than in Armenia.
Many artists have to do a lot of extra-musical work themselves. It leads to no time and energy left for artistic creation.
All these challenges and obstacles prevent Armenia from being represented abroad more frequently. Given an opportunity, artists can represent the plurality of our music on the global scene.
JINJ band during a performance in Vanadzor | Sevana Tchakerian, and Gor Tadevosyan
A: Vanadzor is one of the birthplaces of JINJ, as my bandmate Gor Tadevosyan was born and raised there. We spent a lot of time in Vanadzor at the inception of JINJ. Symbolically, our two first singles, ‘Khosa Khosa’ and ‘Cheat Code’ were recorded there.
After premiering in Paris, the other birthplace of JINJ, where I was born and raised, we felt it was important to perform in Vanadzor. We created a beautiful team, and our show turned into an event in a concrete factory turned into a venue (Beton Art Fabrique), with an exhibition from local Vanadzor artists, an opening from a Russian band based in Vanadzor, and DJ sets. The event was a huge success, and we are particularly proud that over 80% of the audience attending was from Vanadzor. It is essential to decentralize arts and culture and organize similar events outside Yerevan.
Vanadzor-based Russian band | DJ-s
A: We had a great summer festival tour in Canada this July.
We are working on new music and will perform in Yerevan on August 23rd at Tonelab (another Artbox grantee). It will be our last concert in Armenia for a while, so make sure to come!
Our current focus is the European market, but we will tour the US and Canada in 2024.
Our management team is also European and is growing.
We are very excited about our upcoming plans and will release new music soon. You can keep up to date with our news on our socials (@jinjtheband on Instagram) and all streaming platforms.
A: The Artbox Incubator helped strengthen our network in Armenia and define our goals as a band. It also provided us with the funds to produce our show in Vanadzor.
My advice is practical :
The most important is to take care of your mental health, whatever it might look like for yourself. Being an artist is emotionally intense. Our priority as artists should be finding our inner balance.
That also means discipline. Contrary to what we might think, being an artist requires a lot of discipline. Try to have an artistic practice for yourself every day, even if you have a busy day, even if it’s 5 minutes a day.
And if you can’t, don’t feel guilty.
Working a job to sustain your life, even if it’s not being a full-time artist, is ok. Wanting to make money out of your art is ok.
Don't fear judgment from other musicians or artists for your choices, as they are not your audience. I see many artists creating to appeal to other artists, and usually, they ignore their audience.
Try to find opportunities to travel abroad, attend conferences, festivals, or anything else to get to know the international market better.
Speaking English is a must nowadays as well.
Also, I know that Armenia is a small country with a small market. Still, there is a place for everyone to make it. Help each other, and be in a spirit of support and collaboration instead of instilling rivalry and jealousy. Helping each other is beneficial to everyone as individuals and as a community.
Scene from JINJ band's 'Khosa Khosa' music video