“Growing up, I was a normal kid.”
Anyone meeting Jack Gilinsky on the street might naturally assume that the 5’10” Nebraska native was a high school jock. But in this case, they’d be wrong. “I didn’t play sports,” he says. “I wasn’t on the football team.”
Actually, Jack and his best friends didn’t belong to one particular clique. “We weren’t goth and didn’t dye our hair black or anything,” he laughs. “Growing up, I was a normal, average kid.” And now, just 18 months after graduating from high school, his life is definitely not normal, nor is it average.
Gilinsky’s love of music started when he was very young. “I had two older sisters and they were always making me sing in front of the family and making me try out for choirs and shows,” he remembers. But it was his best friend, Jack Johnson, who introduced him to hip-hop, unknowingly changing the course of their lives forever. “It was kind of like, the bad thing to listen to because your parents thought it would influence you to do this or that,” he remembers. “But Jack just being the rebel he was always listened to it. He turned me onto it in fifth grade with artists like Eminem and Lil Wayne – it was definitely new for me, but it was really cool.”
And while they’d freestyle at parties for fun and film funny videos to post on YouTube, Jack and Jack never imagined that their hobby would turn into anything professional, let alone catapult them into superstardom. But then Johnson heard about a new app called Vine. Within a few months, the pair’s six-second videos turned them into viral sensations, and their mutual love of music inspired them to post a cover of Trey Songz “Dive In.” In the brief, but impressive debut, Gilinsky carries the vocals as Johnson beatboxes and plays piano. When nearly every commenter requested that they record an original song, Jack and Jack obliged. “No one talks about our first song because we didn’t put it on iTunes or anything,” says Gilinsky. “It was called ‘Indoor Recess’ and we just threw it up for free on Soundcloud.”
The duo’s next song, “Distance,” would mark their iTunes debut, and hit #7 on the hip-hop chart. Suddenly, Jack and Jack found their names listed alongside the very same rappers they idolized – both on the charts and in news headlines. Yet despite their growing superstardom, they opted to stay in regular school and walk the hallways like normal 17-year-olds. Gilinsky attributes the pair’s humility to that decision in particular. “We cherished the time we still had as high schoolers,” he explains. “I’ll thank my friends in Omaha forever because those last six months of high school were so fun.”
And while their best friends back home in Omaha still see Jack and Jack as regular guys, millions of people around the world do not. “Showing up to the airport and having fans waiting there for you is a blessing,” says Gilinsky. But what about when he’s having an awful day? Even then, he’s elated to chat and pose for selfies with every single supporter. “Whatever happened in my day to make it shitty, these girls have no idea about that,” he says. “This could turn into the night of their lives. Might as well make it as good as possible.” Whether he’s meeting fans, recording music, or performing on stage, Gilinsky’s not just making life good – he’s making it great – for everyone who loves Jack and Jack.
DON’T MISS THE JACK & JACK PROFILE, COMING SATURDAY, JANUARY 30! And click here to read Jack Johnson’s profile, posted January 23.
Photographer: Joe Magnani
Story by: Colleen Broomall
Hair: Matilde Campos
Grooming: Joseph Adivari
Styling: Robiat Balogun (Look 1: Jacket – ACA, Shirt – Control Sector, Pants – Feltraiger, Shoes – Vans. Look 2: Hoodie – JOYRICH)