12th May2010

Your New Favorite Band: Jamaica

by Ravin

Submitted for your approval: our pick for the “Song of the Summer”. Paris-based duo Jamaica have already conjured up the song that will be pulsing out of our 8-track player and shining its lights on our disco balls. Mix equal parts, hooky guitar riffs, spine-rumbling bass grooves, sprinkle in highly touted producers, Xavier De Rosnay of Justice and Daft Punk sound engineer Peter Franco and you’re on your way. Top it off with a “rawk” guitar solo and you’ll have us melting like butter. Hats off to staff writer Ravin (@BlueChandelier) for finding this little treasure, as he took the time to talk with Antoine Hilaire, so that the rest of us could see this coming, before it flattens us.

TDOA: First off, are you a band, a DJ duo or both? Oh, and uhm… Who are you guys?

Antoine: We’re French. I’m from Paris and Flo comes come Alpes de Haute Provence. We live in Paris but our hearts are everywhere.

TDOA: You used to be called Poney Poney. Why the name change to Jamaica? And why Jamaica, as opposed to say, Aruba?

Antoine: We had a band before but one member quit and we decided to start off. We were looking for a good name that reminds coolness. Places names for bands are always great but Aruba was already taken.

TDOA: What I love about your sound, other than its instantly infectious hooks and melodies, is the fact that I can’t tell whether it’s a live band playing or a studio/electronic creation of some sort. Am I correct in assuming it’s a little of both? And what did role did Xavier De Rosnay (of Justice fame) and Peter Franco have in shaping this sound?

Antoine: It’s indeed a little bit of both, live and programming. We did play the guitars, the bass or the keyboards live but the drums are mixed between samples and live takes for the hi hats and cymbals. Peter and Xavier being the producers, they were of great help on anything we did in the studio, conducting, arranging, engineering, mixing etc. It’s was a four headed monster.

TDOA: Stemming off the previous question, are you a fan of french electro/pop/rock groups, such as the aforementioned Justice, M83, Daft Punk, Air, and more recently Phoenix? If so, how has this music shaped your musical sensibilities?

Antoine: I love Justice, Daft Punk and Phoenix of course. We happen to have a somewhat similar taste with some of our French peers I guess. But it’s more a matter of them being popular and talented that influenced us, not because we come from the same place. They just showed that French musicians could eventually make it.

TDOA: Another thing I love about your sound is that you’re not afraid to engage in old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll theatrics, such as the wank-tastic guitar solo at the end of “I Think I Like U2″. A lot of people I know find guitar solos and big power chords cheesy, but I’m still that guy that likes to air solo on guitar when no one’s looking. Anyways… Do you think the old conventions of rock ‘n’ roll have gone the way of the dodo? Or is there still life in them yet?

Antoine: A screaming guitar solo would always work on me. It’s more a matter of taste for noise, for virtuosity than a good old times hommage for us. Though we tried to record an impressive guitar solo on 90% of the songs on the album, but just because we like it. I confess my dream is to be interviewed by guitar magazines too.

TDOA: The video for “I Think I Like U2″ is genius. It reminds of the end montage of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (Wyld Stallyns!)… I couldn’t stop smiling! I particularly like the Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” pastel video effects at the end. Anyway, how did it come about?

Antoine: Thanks for So-Me and Machine Molle, the directors! We shared coffee and nuts with So-Me on “terrasses de café” and he came out with that brilliant idea of having this rockumentary about our career. We decided to put everything a successful band goes through, including guitar shredding outbursts and freudian references to erection. I love it when bands lose their minds completely and start to behave like the rock stars they dreamt to be. Clichés are made to be played with.

TDOA: So, have you guys decided whether you actually like U2? It’s okay if you do, I like them, even though I get endless amounts of dung tossed my way…

Antoine: Peter Franco who worked on the record is a big U2 fan and he managed to convert us, a bit. What will remain of them in 50 years? Probably a bunch of big songs. They have it all on some of their hits. But I of course don’t really connect to the stadium messiah aspect of it.

TDOA: “I Think I Like U2″ was recently played in a VW ad. Quite remarkable for a band that isn’t signed, which makes me wonder… Are you guys even remotely thinking about getting on a label? It seems like you’re doing quite well on your own…

Antoine: We’re signed to Cooperative Music in Europe and Australia and KSR in Japan, so yes, we thought we needed some help. We did a lot ourselves with our manager but at some point, you don’t want to deal with everything on a daily basis. So we picked the most flexible and modern people we met. And since it’s a licence, we do have a 100% control on most of the aspects. They signed Phoenix as well and the guys kept praising Coop when we were considering labels. It helped with the choice.

TDOA: What can you tell us about the new record?

Antoine: I think the four of us did a great job. Songwriting, production and playing are good. There are songs like “I Think I Like U 2″, others are even poppier, some are as aggressive as “Cross The Fader” yet always bouncy. It’s also versatile, it’s not the same along the 11 songs. We just hope people agree.

TDOA: Any plans to tour stateside?

Antoine: We’re still considering labels there so I hope it triggers soon! We are planning some things there, definitely.

Interview by RC

To learn more about Jamaica, click here.

UPDATE! U.S. Tour dates announced!
Oct 13 2010 WAREHOUSE SAN DIEGO,
Oct 15 2010 ECHOPLEX LOS ANGELES,
Oct 16 2010 TREASURE ISLAND FESTIVAL SAN FRANCISCO, .
Oct 17 2010 CLUB ENCORE AUSTIN, TX
Oct 18 2010 LINCOLN HALL CHICAGO
Oct 19 2010 WRONG BAR TORONTO, CANADA
Oct 21 2010 MAKING TIME PHILADELPHIA
Oct 22 2010 CMJ FESTIVAL @ WEBSTER HALL NEW YORK
Oct 23 2010 CMJ FESTIVAL @ MAKING TIME BROOKLYN

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Pirate! » Blog Archive » Jamaica says:

    [...] "Paris-based duo Jamaica have already conjured up the song that will be pulsing out of our 8-track player and shining its lights on our disco balls. Mix equal parts, hooky guitar riffs, spine-rumbling bass grooves, sprinkle in highly touted producers, Xavier De Rosnay of Justice and Daft Punk sound engineer Peter Franco and you’re on your way. Top it off with a “rawk” guitar solo and you’ll have us melting like butter." – The Dumbing Of America [...]

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