Babylon Zoo set to win over Canadian fans
Jas from Babylon Zoo TORONTO (CP) -- Jas Mann says he's not the least bit put out that he's still an anonymous earthling in Canada even though he's rocketed to pop star status across the ocean and beyond.

Mann is Babylon Zoo.

There are supposed to be three others in the U.K.-based band, but don't bother trying to find their names or images in any press material.

Mann -- errr, Babylon Zoo -- is so big in Poland hundreds of fans, some decked out in spacesuits, turned out at the airport in Warsaw to greet him.

In Sydney, Australia, Mann encountered his first stalker, a weepy young fan who tailed his every move in a cab she kept on call.

The fuss is on the strength of Spaceman, a song that sold a half-million copies in the U.K. within a week of its release in January. It became the fastest selling debut single of all time in merry old England, bumping a resurfaced George Michael from the No. 1 spot.

The subsequent album, The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes, has sold a respectable 12,000 copies in Canada since its release March 26 but that pales in comparison to sales overseas.

"If you're successful all across Europe and you approach somewhere you're not successful yet, it's very easy to get very blase, and get very 'well, you're missing out, people,'" says Mann, in town last week on a publicity tour.

"But it isn't like that. You've still got to do the work. I like challenges."

On this day there's no sign of the foil sarong -- Mann favors skirts -- that wrapped his slender frame in the Spaceman video. This is, after all, a guy featured in one of his press shots talking to a herd of sheep through a toy microphone.

Mann, who calls himself "an intergalactic 21st century salesman," opted for a less-alien look for his Toronto interview schedule. His black shiny pants, matching top and black-and-white running shoes wouldn't raise an eyebrow on Toronto's avant garde Queen Street.

A closer look just might. Mann has dark saucer eyes, products of his Asian- native-American heritage, and skin-toned makeup evenly coated over his oval face.

Mann, 25, a former art-film student, wrote and recorded Spaceman as a soundtrack for a 15-minute film called Spaceman Suborganic Mutations.

He sent a copy to a record company and, just like that, a deal followed. So did a contract with Levi's who wanted the song's futuristic feel in their next advertisement.

The public's appetite whetted, the single zoomed to No. 1 position not just in England but in more than a dozen countries where the commercial wasn't even shown.

Mann's music has been called "computer grunge" and despite the TV commercial tie-in, the CD has been critically well-received around the world.

"It's bizarre to go to a country I've never been to and suddenly find the record is so huge."

While that's not the case in Canada -- so far, anyway -- Mann vows to return to play live gigs by the end of the year, even if it means playing small venues after packing stadiums in Europe.

By Betsy Powell
Source: Canadian Press
May 21 1996

 
Other Information
Jas, fully named 'Jasbinder', was born in Dudley in the West Midlands on the 24th day of April 1971

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