A friendly face from the Great Alone: Jack Be, the artist putting fans first.
Updated: May 27, 2022
For those who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do?
Hi there, I'm Jack Be - bedroom musician, prolific creative, and mad scientist. I have a Billboard-Charting album, a viral song on tiktok with 100,000,000+ views on the platform, and the most inspiring kickass fans in the world (shoutout to the Be Team). I was born with pink hair, my smile is crazy goofy, and I spend my spare time thinking up new ways to scare the hell out of people (in a fun way). I'm essentially a large golden retriever.
What’s changed in the two years since we last interviewed you?
That's a big question! I guess everything and nothing at the same time? On one hand, the Be Team got really big. It seems like a big chunk of people has heard my music. I made music for myself for so long, thousands of songs before showing anyone. When I did start sharing music it was because I hoped I could affect just one person the way musicians had affected me and saved my life. So the fact that I can do 1000 person Zoom rooms now and meet 1,000 fans one at a time? That's so cool dude.
Waking up everyday and feeling like I can really talk to people and make someone smile? That's fucking rad. That's kind of new, to know I'll have that chance. 2 years ago the Be Team was this tiny niche. Every single person in it was so special to me. I never imagined it could get bigger and I would still feel the relationship was so special. I'm like the luckiest guy in the world now.
At the same time, I'm the same Jack Be I think I ever was. I'm still just a kid with a dream. Independent artist, 100% free agent. The only people around me are my closest friends, people I believe in, and of course all the wonderful Be Teams that send me messages and bring me joy.
When the numbers started changing a lot of industry people tried to get involved. They told me what sponsors to take or what deals to take, how many songs I needed to put out a month or how to make the most money off a project. I didn't really do any of that though I kind of screwed off and learned how to play a little piano.
I made some dumb videos and made a bunch of new friends. I try only to share stuff I get an explosive urge to share. I'd like to think that's never gonna change, that's the same old same old I'll always hold on to.
What was the inspiration behind the Be Bus?
Honest to god, I was just sitting on the floor one day wondering how I could really scare people. Like, that was really my motivation. I guess I had some songs I wanted to show people, but I didn't just wanna plaster my face on a billboard. And I thought back on how much fun my fans had when I would just read their chat messages during live streams. And it just hit me - the world's gotta see my fans the same way I do. What do the kids have to say to the world? Let's ask them. Put them on the billboard. I pretty much haven't slept since I had that realization.
So now we have the Be Bus. It's showing thousands of people's messages to the world? Terrifying. I'm going to be livestreaming nonstop for an entire day? SCARY! Can we even pull this off???? I have no idea, I'm nervous as hell. That's how I knew it was the right thing to do
Life's short man. I'd rather fuck something up spectacularly than hit the same mediocre rhythms again and again. I can't wait to see what part of this idea ends up exploding.
The Be Bus live stream is a Tik Tok world’s first, what does that mean for Jack Be?
Everything and Nothing! I'm so hyped to be doing something that hasn't been done. That's a huge passion of mine, just doing crazy unproven things. Right now it's the biggest thing in my life!
And then someday, I hope it's just another cherished memory. If I have it my way I'm just gonna do this over and over until I actually die. Heck, give me a month. Let's see what happens next.
Tik Tok has been a big component to your marketing strategy, can you talk to us about what that’s been like?
I have a lot of peers that dislike the concept of marketing inherently. I love the idea of marketing, but I guess that's because I see it as a creative medium the same as music or film. To me, the medium is showmanship. Experience crafting.
Whenever I make something I'm excited to share, I think to myself - how can the very process of telling people about this be entertaining unto itself? What feelings can someone feel when I'm showing them what's coming next?
TikTok's really cool.In prior platforms I felt this weird pressure to present myself in a perfect light. It felt like an active choice between 'practicality' and genuine expression. But on TikTok I'm like, hey! 400 person minecraft server come play! basement charity concert come sing! Here's me singing opera, here's me talking about being bullied, here's a scuff music video i shot at 3 in the morning!
TikTok's been really great for me I think cause it's a place where I've just been me. And that's really all I've ever wanted to be. It's a nice side effect that people find my music through it, but I'm just happy making those goofy little vids that make me laugh. I can't tell you how many people have told me I'm doing it wrong. But if I'm smiling, how wrong can it be?
How has your mentality toward marketing changed as your brand has gotten bigger?
Is it weird to say it's gotten tremendously more destructive? Like, slash and burn? Scorch the Earth type stuff. I used to worry about the practicality of marketing. But at this point, with Jack Be being a bigger thing, I'm just lucky to have people receive the energy I put out. And that's all I worry about anymore - putting energy out into the world.
I don't really think about ends, I just think about means now. I used to lose so much sleep over the ends. Like I said earlier though, life is short. Things started really working out for me when they were working out by accident.
Now I just do 24 hour streams, just cause. Or send out vinyls with an unreleased song on it. Write handwritten letters until I run out of ink. Send out free clothes, let fans design the clothes for me. It's all rarely sustainable but I feel like it burns bright. It feels better now.
I don't read guides on how to reach people, I just start shouting whatever I'm feeling in my gut and maybe someone listens. I'm just a dog chasing cars.
Compared to 2 years ago, has your vision for your career changed?
I used to want a record label so badly. I used to want external validation really badly. I had something to prove in the worst of ways. Don't get me wrong, I did a lot of stuff back then that deeply touches me to this day - 99% of it was genuine and done from a real place. But somewhere in the back of my head I kept hearing "you'll never be good enough until someone says so". It made me do a lot of irrational stuff just hoping it might lift the weight of those external expectations off my back.
I don't think that's the case anymore. I've still got a lot I want to prove, but it's for me. A lot of people made me feel like a screw-up as a kid. I didn't know that I had ADHD, clinical depression, crippling social anxiety. I was made instead to feel weak for being different, for being unhappy, for failing where others thrived.
The places where I did thrive were often invalidated as incorrect. Now I just wanna do things my way. I want people to know that life can be lived their way. I wanna be living proof of that.
So what is it like now instead? I still wanna do big things. I wanna sing at least a couple words to everyone in the world. I wanna be a part of the culture and artistic community that changed my life, I wanna win some trophies. I wanna do big numbers and let some kids like me know they're not alone.
I wanna spend a day being the biggest artist in the world... maybe a little longer even. I wanna keep making songs that I never get tired of. More than anything I just wanna keep making stuff and keep getting to know myself. The biggest change is I just don't care what anyone else wants from me. They got their chance with my steering wheel, it's my turn now.
If you could say something directly to the Be Team, what would you want them to know?
You are more powerful than you'll ever know. You are special. You're reading this thinking it's some cliche, cheesy ass advice now, and then someday it's gonna hit you that it's cold hard facts. You really, truly can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
You may think now that you can't change the world, but you've already changed my life with your actions, you've already helped people through the Be Team charity events.
You may think now that you're not unique, but I've watched you all talking in the comments and in chat and you've got so much to say, so much soul, so much passion. Don't be afraid to care. Don't be afraid to try. Failure is just the first step to success.
I've read, literally, tens of thousands of DMs from people that felt lost or alone. The sad irony is how not alone they are in that. How there are so many people that could use just a little love and a hand up off the ground. And better yet, I've watched them all find their way through the dark.
You're not alone.
Whenever you lose your smile,
go find someone and help them find theirs.
What’s next for Jack Be?
The biggest summer of our lives. I didn't learn about instruments for nothing... stay tuned my friends.