Hailing from the streets of Paris, France, Jamaica are poised to become the next French electro-rock sensation. Starting out as a trio named “Poney Poney,” Antoine Hilaire and Florent Lyonnet forged out on their own to hone their craft and start anew. Working with producers Xavier de Rosnay (One-half of French electro act JUSTICE) and Peter Franco, the band was able to fine-tune their sound and produce their debut full-length album, “No Problem”, out now on Downtown Records here in the states, and Cooperative Music (home to fellow frenchmen JUSTICE and Phoenix) in Europe. Thrillcall had a chance to speak with Antoine Hilaire, and gain some insight on the process of recording “No Problem”, as well as their rabid touring schedule.
THRILLCALL: Originally known as Poney Poney, you guys were a three-piece. How was being a duo changed your writing process? Has it made recording easier?
Antoine: It’s an interesting question. Thinking about it, having fewer opinions probably sharpened our choices. We were anyway rather sure of what we were going to do.
THRILLCALL: On your first release, “No Problem”, that now-classic electro-bass sound associated with French electro-rock artists from Daft Punk to Justice seems to be present quite a bit. How much of the bass playing is live, as opposed to programmed/played on keys?
Antoine: Everything was played on instruments, no keys. We of course used a bit of cut-up on some sequences to make our playing slicker, which made us go through hell when we started rehearsing. But the most important was to play parts we could do in one take. If the part was a tough one, we just practiced until we got the right take.
THRILLCALL: That’s really impressive that you were able to get the bass sounds that tight and on the mark, yet still get that funky sound associated with electro. There is definitely a classic Americana touch to a lot of the songs on “No Problem”. Are you influenced by any American artists/bands in particular?
Antoine: That’s probably the harder part for me, I usually stick to the first that comes to mind. But Peter Franco and Xavier de Rosnay as producers really pushed me to sing different ways, in a neutral yet affected way that allowed some variations and “singing” but was strongly rooted in a simple melody. Crooning without whinning.
THRILLCALL: How was your experience touring with Two Door Cinema Club?
Antoine: It was right at the beginning of our own tour, so we were just happy to be there. We love playing in the Netherlands and every venue was packed, it was great not to feel any pressure other than killing it and finding new fans. And those guys are really nice people, really shy, it was a relaxing tour.
THRILLCALL: What’s coming up from Jamaica in the near future?
Antoine: This American and Canadian tour is the big deal now, we’re thrilled. I really hope it goes well and we can eventually come back later this year to promote “No Problem” further. But apart from all the festivals we are playing this summer around the world, we want to focus on all the new bits of songs we gathered the last year. I’m extremely excited about what’s coming up.