Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ JAMAICA

Photo by Romain Corvez

The amazing electro-rock duo of Antoine Hilaire and Flo Lyonne, known as JAMAICA, release their second album Ventura today! The new album is the follow up to their 2010 debut No Problem. When asked about the sound of the new record, the French duo told AMBY, “it sounds like a boat travel, with sunny parts and stormy ones.” Ahead of the record’s release, we had the opportunity of speaking with JAMAICA to discuss favourite lyrics, tee shirt messages, Stevie Wonder, and and all things Ventura.

AMBY: Hey JAMAICA, thanks for speaking with AMBY today. What have you both been up to lately?

Antoine: Thank you for having us! We’re preparing for the upcoming release of our second album “Ventura” at the end of March, with new additional musicians.

Florent: We’re rehearsing for the tour with Nicolas on drums and Edouard on guitar. We’re trying to create something new with the songs, it’s a really great part of the project.

AMBY: How would you describe each another in one word?

A: Intense.

F: Loyal.

AMBY: It’s getting close to the release date of your forthcoming second album Ventura! Where did the record’s title come from?

A: We started working on it in a house on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles. We spent only a month there but it shaped the music, listening to the radio, the whole Southern California experience. “Ventura” also means “fate”, “luck” and we often feel blessed for making music for a living.

F: Antoine had an idea to name the album “Pinta, Nina, Santa Maria” after the Christopher Colombus caravels. I was instantaneously into it. It make me think about a quest, a travel, an adventure. That’s what leads us with Jamaica and it matched very well with the conception of the record. But it was too long and the conquistadors reference carried too negative things with it. “Ventura” which is positive, like an amusement park: “JamaicAdventure Fun Time Park”.

AMBY: Looking forward to the release of Ventura; how would you describe the feel of the album?

F: It sounds like a boat travel, with sunny parts and stormy ones.

A: Flo nailed it. At some point, we thought about putting a refreshment drink on the cover. Whether it quenches your thirst, excites you, makes you hungover, makes you laugh, you can share it with your friends, etc. We liked the analogy.

AMBY: The new single off of the LP, Two On Two, sounds great. What inspired the song?

A: Thank you very much! It’s mainly about being excited to make music again, to release a record, to know that we’ll miss our families and friends again when we’ll tour. Some outburst of an almost childish excitement to come out of our caves. The music started from a long time desire to have time signature like Tom Petty’s “American Girl”. It can be jazzy if you slow it down but if you play it really fast, it’s extremely danceable.  So the drums came first then we used a chord progression that was to become a staple in “Ventura”, the A/A#maj7 thing that you can find throughout the record.

AMBY: How do you feel your sound has evolved since your 2010 debut No Problem?

A: The first thing that comes to mind is that the songs were written on a shorter time period that the ones on “No Problem” so I think they’re more coherent and they represent more accurately who we are right now. We tried a lot of different genres while writing, without style boundaries so I think you can hear more eclecticism too. Obviously, we also decided to produce with the best of two worlds. Our music is originally computer fueled, as “No Problem” stated. This time, Peter Franco with the beginning of the recording and Laurent d’Herbécourt with his producing and his mixing brought a different sound to the songs. It’s really Home Studio meets Big Studios.

F: It’s more traditional in an FM radio way too, because we recorded real drums, and used far more analog gear, notably Laurent d’Herbécourt’s Neve desk. Peter Franco who triggered the work on “Ventura” was also really into widening our sound with “real” equipment. The mixing of the two different approaches brought “Ventura” into a production that makes you think you’ve already heard, but is totally brand new and would have been impossible to produce 30 years ago.

AMBY: Which JAMAICA lyric is your favourite?

A: I like “it’s a common error to believe I’m here” on “All Inclusive” and You got problems now girl, do you want trouble too?” on “Ferris Wheeler”. I have a soft spot for the lyrics on “Junior” and “Jericho” on our first record too.

F: “Rushmore” and “Ferris Wheeler” but it depends of the situation I’m in.

AMBY: If you could trade places with another artist in the music industry for one day, who would it be?

F: Stevie Wonder. To know how he feels the music and to play everything I want. To be a genius and great poly instrumentalist for a day.

A: Lemmy, though I’d probably spend a whole day playing slots.

AMBY: You are allowed to say one sentence, which will reach the whole world. What would you say?

F: Love is all.

A: It always seems impossible until it’s done. I’m into tee shirts messages.

AMBY: What has you most excited for 2014?

F: Playing our songs live!

A: Breeding.

AMBY: Lastly, what’s something about JAMAICA that nobody knows yet?

F: Our awesome drummer Nicolas is single.

A: And he looks great shirtless.


Thank you JAMAICA, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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