At 23, most people might be concerned with what to do on the coming weekend, or plotting their next career move. Some might be considering settling down, some have children. But it’s a pretty safe bet to say not many would be contemplating what lasting impression they’re going to leave on the world.
Of course, Jedward aren’t most people. John and Edward Grimes have always had a different outlook on life – their self-written songs, ‘Free Spirit’, ‘Ferocious’, ‘Make Your Own Luck’, even ‘Oh Hell No’, all embody a different way of seeing things, of living outside the box, as it were. It should therefore come as no surprise that their latest song, ‘Leave A Mark’ similarly explores uncharted waters, this time paying homage to those who have gone before us and the legacy they’ve left behind – while at the same time encouraging those of us who remain to make sure our lives mean something.
We caught up with Edward while the twins were in London recently.
EP: You inspire others to follow their dreams – is it difficult to stay so positive? Or do you sometimes say, “What the hell, why am I still doing this?”
EG: We’re always a hundred percent positive, we could be in the worst situation ever, but we have fans reaching out to us about their problems, and we’ve put them on top of our own problems before, and we think it’s always good to have other people, even if you’re not okay, to rock it anyway for them. You’ve got to be a strong leader for people to join the phenomenon!
EP: What’s the song writing process? When you’re writing, is there one who writes more than the other?
EG: We both write together – we have so much content – John writes, I write, then we make it all mathematical, make it all match, the syllables, the rhyming. You’ve got to remain constant, you’ve got to have what you’re aiming towards, to fill it up, to make it all meaningful, and get loads of themes out. It’s still got to relate to you, but then you’ve got to ensure that it’s a universal song, because it’s got to appeal to a lot of people. I know that our songs don’t always get to be heard by everybody, but who knows, maybe in fifty years time people will look back and be like John and Edward were “going”.
EP: How important is it for you to have a strong brand image?
EG: Even though we’re not the most famous people ever, we’re the most recognisable, we make the biggest impact. We’re evolving all the time, we’re like Madonna.
EP: You’re better than Madonna!
EG: We’re way better! We’re two guys, a lot of men aren’t doing what we’re doing, we’re totally revolutionary.
EP: You’re on every social media platform going, aren’t you – how important do you think it is in the music industry to be so in touch with all that sort of stuff?
EG: You never know what social media platform is going to take off, we’re like “Oh this is a cool app, let’s sign up just in case it becomes the next Facebook or Twitter.” I think it’s very important for you to be the number one source, you can do a newspaper or magazine interview, but I think it makes the most impact if you’re able to say your opinion on things, and you’re able to put out your own content, you approve it – and then you literally create this army of loyal fans who everyday are going about their daily lives and get a buzz on their phone, oh John and Edward have messaged them, or were sending them a tweet. We don’t do the generic stuff, we like to find new, exciting things, not just the old school, (puts on a voice) “hey how are you I love you” sort of thing, we try to keep away from the generic stuff that people say to their fans.
EP: How important is it to have creative control over everything, and why?
EG: I think it’s always good to do it yourself, even if we had the biggest record deal ever we’d still want to be a hundred percent in control, and have input into the situation, but even if we were in a different situation, we’d still always be rocking it, because – you know, we’ve been in the business six years, we know what our fans want, we know what the sound is. We’re always on trend. We know what needs to be out there.
EP: You’ve made a ton of music videos haven’t you?
EG: Yes! We’ve made a lot of music videos, we always have our camera with us, it’s a 5D Mark II. It all started with our song ‘Lipstick’ – it’s sold millions and the video has had millions of views. We made the music video, we flew over to Paris, went to the Eiffel Tower and edited it on iMovie. We’ve got better – we’ve learned about colour grading, and different vibes.
The thing people don’t understand, they usually think it’s the camera that makes it look professional, but it’s actually the editing – matching to the beat, and getting the colours right – if you want a sort of scary vibe, such as for our music video for ‘Ferocious’ – or for ‘Oh Hell No’, it has to have dark in it, it has to have lots of greys, and then you can overlay a blue tint, to kind of give it that vibe. You know on Instagram, you’ve got lots of different filters – it’s like that when you’re making and colour grading music videos, you have to do cool filters, and you add contrast, and turn up the saturation, it’s really cool when it all works out. Getting it all in synch is always really difficult.
Usually you only have one music video for an album, or max 3, but if we like a song, or if fans like it, if we get a good reaction to it at a concert, we say, we’ll make a music video for this – for instance, we have a song called ‘How Did You Know’ – and we decided to make a video for it because it was getting lots of airplay in Singapore, and then our song ‘Young Love’ – we shot the music video, edited and uploaded it, and now it’s had like four million views on YouTube.
We’re pretty good at making music videos – even the ones of ours that don’t look a hundred percent professional, sometimes people get a professional in to make it look like that.
‘Leave A Mark’ is a very striking video – apart from John and Edward themselves, they’ve included archival footage of no fewer than 25 historic people and events. The twins said the greatest honour was being granted permission to include the footage – and their selection might surprise some. As well as those who might be expected to have influenced them – Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, Elvis, The Beatles, John F Kennedy – they’ve made some very interesting choices.
Pioneering aviatrix Amelia Earhart appears, as well as Neil Armstrong, and also the first Space Shuttle. Jackie Robinson, the first African American baseballer to play in the major leagues in the modern era makes an appearance, as does Marian Anderson, American contralto, who sang “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” at the Civil Rights Movement’s March on Washington in 1963. The same event was where Martin Luther King made his “I had a dream” speech – King is also featured.
Possibly the most poignant inclusion is Andy Warhol – not once, but twice. Apart from his art and his association with models and musicians, Warhol is best known for saying, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”. But John and Edward clearly want more than just their 15 minutes of fame – they want to leave their mark on this world, to make sure their lives count for something. With their relationship with their fans, and their inspiring outlook on life, we think they’re definitely going about it the right way.