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From sound engineers and screenwriters to celebrity makeup artists and stylists, Variety’s series “Ask an Insider” asks top professionals within the entertainment industry to share their must-have essentials, for work…and for play. In this installment, Jon Batiste, musician, songwriter, composer and television personality, shares the products he always brings with him while traveling the world.

Jon Batiste is so diverse and far-reaching with the projects he takes on, that different people tend to recognize him from the distinct worlds he occupies — whether it’s on broadcast TV as a bandleader on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” a gig he he held for seven years before announcing his departure last year; as a world-class jazz musician and composer, who at the 2022 Grammys nabbed five trophies (and 11 nominations); or even, later this year on the big screen, in an upcoming role he has in Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “The Color Purple.”

In all Batiste’s disparate projects, however, music remains central. Most recently, he was tapped to be the lead artist for season two of Coke Studio where he’ll bring 19 breakthrough artists together for musical collaborations throughout the summer. In June, he released “Be Who You Are” featuring Camilo, J.I.D and Cat Burns.

“In this album making process, the vision for the album was this ‘eclectic world music’ concept and the phone rang and all of a sudden, Coke is saying, ‘We want you to do this brand campaign and we want it to be this ‘eclectic world music vibe’ like it was so aligned with what we were already working on,” Batiste tells Variety over a Zoom call in Switzerland. “The song became the driver for the campaign in a very organic way, it was so serendipitous that once I started to work on it, I was in that headspace already. It was a thread in the tapestry of the album that I was already working on.”


In discovering and collaborating with artists around the world, Batiste is often away from his home base in Brooklyn, NY. This past month, he’s performed at the U.K’s legendary Glastonbury Festival, at the Champs-Elysee for president Emmanuel Macron and at the Eiffel Tower alongside Billy Eilish and Lenny Kravitz.

“I’ve been moving around quite a lot,” Batiste says.

Below, check out five of Batiste’s non-negotiable travel essentials that he always brings on the road:

Marshall Emberton II Portable Speaker

“I really love the Marshall portable speakers. It’s great. And you can get it in different sizes. I really like that one. I’ve been using it for many years now. It’s got a shape like an amplifier, which I think is pretty cool if you’re into that aesthetic.”

Marshall Emberton II Portable Bluetooth Speaker – Black & Brass$168.99Buy Now On Amazon

Nintendo Switch

“You just have to get the Nintendo Switch and carry it with you in your luggage. You can load it up with tons of different games so you don’t have to choose one. And you can also hook it up to TV via HDMI. So if you’re traveling and you want to have it on the big screen, the Switch becomes the controller and the TV becomes your monitor. And now you have a whole arcade in your room.”

Nintendo Switch™ with Neon Blue and Neon Red Joy‑Con™$292.90Buy Now On Amazon

Melodia Keyboard

“Those who have followed me from the early days know I’d have to recommend the ‘Harmoniboard.’ That’s my thing. A melodica is a harmonica and the keyboard put together and you blow into it. I’m actually playing it on the single that we released from the album yesterday ‘Calling Your Name’ and it’s that instrument that you hear if you don’t recognize it, that’s what it is.

I was in maybe middle school or something when I was first introduced to it. My dad was touring in Japan and I believe he brought one back because I think they were used in music education in primary schools in Japan at some point And also my Uncle David, who’s a keyboardist, would play it. So it was just in the family. And then I started to play it and I never turned back.”

CAHAYA Melodica 32 Keys Double Tubes Mouthpiece Air Piano Keyboard Musical Instrument $28.99Buy Now On Amazon

Apple Wired Headphones (41% Off)

“This isn’t gonna be high tech, but I just use Apple’s wired earbuds. I don’t use the Airpods. I don’t like the Airpods because you lose those and they’re very, very easy to get connected to other people’s phones and you have to charge them in a certain way. It’s just very cumbersome. I think the wired earbuds, it’s not the best sound quality for you audiophiles out there, but for wired earbuds I’m really into them. I actually think it’s the most durable and user friendly way to listen to music if you don’t mind the compressed sound.”

Apple EarPods Headphones with Lightning Connecto$29.00 $16.99Buy Now On Amazon

Burt’s Bees Chapstick

“There are a few things that I always carry with me when traveling but none more important or essential than having some chapstick. Absolutely essential. I play the melodica, I sing, the planes are dry. There’s just something about having dry lips while traveling — that’s just a no-go for me. It’s a pet peeve of mine for myself. 

I’ve been using Burt’s Bees and Chaptick.“

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