Who Is Jas Mann?
Forget Bally Sagoo, Forget Apache Indian and forget all those Bhangra folks who are trying to take a shot at the mainstream British charts.

Instead think Jas Mann, the front man for the four-man, Babylon Zoo, whose latest single SpaceMan is the fastest selling single in the history of British music, since The Beatles' Can't Buy Me Love over 30 years ago. Yes that's right, you read it right -- faster than even the almighty Beatles.

The smash hit - which entered the British charts at No. 1 and has since sold over a million copies - repeated the feat in 20 more countries, prompting world tour that saw him visit Toronto recently.

BABYLON Zoo's January '96 first single, SPACEMAN, sold a quarter of a million copies in its first week, making it the fastest selling British debut ever, and EMI's most rocket-propelled song since The Beatles 'She Loves You'. As well as passing a million sales in the UK, it swiftly took up number one position across most of Europe.

Funny then, nobody on this side of the pond knows much about this chap, who is sending the ladies in a tizzy and ravers on an ecstasy trip.

But then who is Jas Mann? How's this for starters, he is an exotic homosapien, an Indian of both kinds -- that is half Asian Indian, and half American Indian, sorry Native American. The 24-year-old former microbiology student is the lead singer/writer/producer of BABYLON ZOO.

THE FACTS
  • Debut UK Chart position: # 1
  • "Spaceman" was #1 for 5 straight weeks
  • "Spaceman" is the fastest selling *debut* single ever!!
  • "Spaceman" was the fastest selling single since the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love"
  • Album debuted # 6 on the UK album Chart
  • SPACEMAN IS NOW UP TO TEN # 1 HITS ACROSS EUROPE!!!

BABYLON ZOO is a play on Mann's life, where the Babylonian color riot of his childhood years in India to the bleak urban Zoo of his adolescence in Wolverhampton, England. It's just a name but it's also a banner of convenience beneath which MANN can pop it up with a parade of aggressive melodies and play a serious game of cultures chaos collage.

Mann named the band's debut album after his child hood nickname, THE BOY WITH THE X-RAY EYES, because of his cool blue eyes.

According to his record company, Jas was born in Britain to Sikh parents and raised between the Temple and the television set. He returned to India as a three year-old and lived for a while with his grandfather, soaking up memories of sugar cane fields and spider monkeys. For a year he lived on a ranch in the US, with his Mother's Sioux Indian connected family.

Most of his adolescence however was spent in Wolverhampton with his two sisters, no records, just Bollywood videos and Sci-fi on the TV. "I think I took all the positive things from both cultures rather than taking the negative side", he says of his Anglo-Asian past. "I liked the fact that it wasn't one-dimensional. I like things like that, it keeps the soul excited. And I want that to be a great positive influence coming from my music."

It's classic, potent pop formula distorted into a naive, but beautifully crafted, angry, yet optimistic attack on the frustrations of everyday life.

"The way I see music is I create it, I feel it and then throw it out there and it's finished," says Jas MANN, the enigmatic singer/songwriter/producer. "If people want to buy into BABYLON ZOO and buy into the whole perspective that's behind it, it's there. If they don't and they just want to see the faccia, then they can just see that, and that's just as important. It is five dimensional music, there are different aspects, and you can see through them and find different things in them. At the same time, the main reason for doing it is to be highly successful."

While talking about his debut single, Spaceman, in a recent interview, Mann remarked, ģI write about what it would feel like to be a person from another planet, rather than romanticizing science fiction."

Many say that Spaceman is a success thanks to Levi-Strauss, the jeanwear company which filmed a jeans commercial featuring the song that was shown in Britain, Benelux and Norway late last year. In response Mann says, "They stopped showing the commercial in November, and the single didn't come out until January."

Mann says he does not really care for the commercial success, for his debut album is a very personal statement.

"Like an actor, the album is a platform for my personal feelings about my surroundings and the people around me".

And that has been the case for many years now, from the time Mann started on this musical odyssey .His first musical adventure was fronting the end of the 80's groovadelic indie band The Sandkings. They toured extensively with The Wonder Stuff and the Happy Mondays and Jas gained a solid reputation as their stage-diving teenage sex god singer.

But two years in a van was enough. JAS' need to find visual as well as musical means of expression found him back in Wolverhampton in the early '90s, collaborating with friends on an art studio project.

Looking for a way out of their industrialized zoo, and inspired by Francis Bacon, they set up the artificial environment of New Atlantis Productions, filling an unused building with kinetic art, silver leopards and aerial photos of where they lived. Against this chaotic art background, in his self-constructed studio with its indoor rainforest, Jas put together his own, unique musical environment bringing together Apple Macs, Marshall stacks, art and rock'n'roll, light and shade, metal guru-isms and organic truisms to paint a reflective sound picture of his 21st century cusp experiences.

Playing all the instruments himself, he poured Brit TV Sci-fi, B-movies, Mondrian, Orwell, HG Wells, animal liberation, philosophy and fun into the melting pot and came up with the set of vaulting, cataclysmic future-soul, astral rock anthems which comprise his post-Bowie, post-Grunge, Post-Impressionist and preternatural debut album THE BOY WITH THE X-RAY EYES.

By O.P. Malik
 
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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