JB Gill discusses his career change from JLS star to farmer
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On The Farm star JB Gill, whose group JLS sold more than ten million records over the course of a glittering musical career, has exclaimed: “I haven’t left showbiz!” However, his return to his Caribbean roots, which involved setting up a farm in Kent to emulate the lifestyle of his early childhood in Antigua, has been 12 years in the making.
I haven’t left showbiz!
“I feel very much involved in the entertainment industry and with singing. I haven’t left showbiz!” he declared adamantly.
However, after touring with JLS, which sometimes involved 40 days of work in a row without any time off, he acknowledged: “I’ve carved out more of a niche within the farming world.”
He and wife Chloe now live a back-to-basics wholesome lifestyle in the Kent countryside, growing their own food and even mucking in with farm tasks like mending fences.
“I spent my first four or five years [of life] in the Caribbean… and I’ve always had an appreciation for my food,” the Beat Again star revealed.
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“Things like growing your own and having fruit trees in the garden and getting sugar cane from the local plantation – all that stuff I’ve grown up with over the years,” he explained.
“It’s something that I’m incredibly passionate about and that I started at a very early age.
“For me I spent most of my school years living in South London, but farming is something that’s always been quite close to home.”
Plus when the star had his own children – seven-year-old son Ace, and three-year-old daughter Chiara – he recognised the importance of giving them a lifestyle similar to the one he’d experienced at their age.
“Having my kids is one of the main reasons why farming has become a niche for me,” JB explained.
However it’s not solely his own children that he’s keen to help, as the singer recently embarked on a campaign with HelloFresh to provide inner city British youth with access to farms and garden space.
Meanwhile, JB says he benefited enormously from having 22 acres of land around him to boost his mental health – something that was especially key during the pandemic.
“I mean, just being able to go out into a green space and do simple gardening stuff, we’ve seen just how much of a mental benefit that has had,” he explained.
“I certainly saw that firsthand when we had the pandemic over the last two years.
“Most people were restricted in a way that we’ve never been restricted before – certainly not in my lifetime – and just being able to get out and go for a walk was a huge benefit,” he added.
JB, who keeps livestock including turkeys, pigs and chickens on his land, explained: “Being able to have that outdoor space and go and run in the garden for an hour had a huge benefit on my family [too], who got through that period relatively unscathed.
“I do know personal friends who struggled with the negativity that surrounded being enclosed and not being able to get out and about.”
JB embraced total immersion in the countryside throughout lockdown, although he admitted that homeschooling could be “a challenge”.
The quiet time the family shared was the polar opposite of his experience in JLS, which at times involved more than a month’s intensive work without a single day off.
“[Stress in the band] was [another] one of the reasons why we chose to set up the farm,” he elaborated.
“If you can imagine, when I was in music and touring, I was spending very little time at home and was often in a bit of a bubble.
“You go from one thing to the next thing and life is incredibly busy. I remember at one point we had about three or four months – and I literally mean 30 or 40 days nonstop without a day off – no weekends, no holidays, nothing.”
He added wryly: “People don’t realise that that’s one element of the music industry.”
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