JAMAICA are French electronic-rock duo, Antoine Hilaire and Flo Lyonnet (+ Mr David Aknin on sticks), formally known as Poney Poney. Kicking off their US/Canada tour with Via Audio, JAMAICA play a live show at U-Street Music Hall tonight, Wednesday April 13th, which also happens to be the release date of their debut LP, No Problem. The Jericho EP was also just released, with remixes by Todd Edwards, Tepr and DC’s very own Alvin Risk.
Click HERE to RSVP for half priced admission to the show!
We had a chance to ask these dudes some questions about their upcoming tour, their super-rad video and the awesomeness that will come from their live show! Check it out below…
Let’s start with cliché interview-question #1: Why the name Jamaica?
Antoine: First of all, it’s a great name and it was available. We wanted a name referring to a place and which ended in “A”.
You were formally known as “Poney Poney”… why the switch? When did this occur?
A: We were a trio and Sam the drummer left. We thought it was time to drop this embarrassing name and seize te occasion to make new music. It was right at the time when Xavier told us he was available to help us with the album, it made perfect sense to start from scratch.
How did you guys meet and when/how did you decide to form a band? Were either of you formally trained in music?
A: We met through our ex-girlfriends. Flo was making music with a friend of his and asked me to give a shot at singing on a track. I used to have a band in high school and kept making demos under the name Poney Poney. I played only one solo show with an iPod and realized it wasn’t the right formula so I asked Flo to join.
Your video for ‘I Think I Like U 2’ is pretty freakin awesome. How did you come up with the concept for the video? Was the intention just to make a rad Jamaica video or were you trying to convey any sort of message?
A: Thanks a lot! Our friend So-me came up with the idea of a rockumentary to present the band as if we were famous already. We had one or two drinks to discuss the story and things we wanted to see in it and he got the Machine Molle team aboard. We were trying to spread the easygoing way which prevailed in the studio. From there comes the “No Problem” title too.
When someone who has never heard a Jamaica song asks “what kind of music do you play?” what is your typical response?
A: Rock with a French accent. Or AM music you can listen to at night.
“No Problem” was recorded/produced with the help of Justice‘s Xavier de Rosnay and Peter J. Franco (Daft Punk‘s Sound Engineer). How do you think this collaboration helped shape the albums sound?
A: Xavier and Peter helped us picked the right songs for the album, recorded, mixed and gave a hand on arrangements. But most of all they pushed us to write, play and sing better than we already did. Peter also introduced us to Patron Tequila and U2.
This album was created without the use of any synths is that correct? Why did you create the album this way? Were synths used as part of Poney-Poney?
A: We don’t play synths on stage and it was pretty normal not to use any on the record. It was a statement to record a modern rock album with a lot of chemical sounds in it without the most obvious tools to do it. We used synths sometimes on Poney Poney demos but dropped them, it was funnier and more challenging to have weird guitar sounds with regular gear we could indeed bring on stage.
What’s your social life like? Are you the ‘go-out-and-party-after-a-show’ type or do you guys try to keep the partying to a minimum?
A: It really depends on many aspects but it’s 50/50. Except in the US, it’s too exciting to tour there not to go out. Which led us to strange places during the first tour in October.
Since touring what have been your favorite cities or venues? Anywhere you still haven’t played that you’d like to?
A: We love the Liquid Room in Tokyo, The Netherlands, a lot of places in France, North America in general, Spain and especially Razzmattazz in Barcelona… I honestly think we pretty much liked everywhere we played, it’s always a blast to drag people outside their homes to come to listen to us.
I’d love to play Brixton Academy in London, the MSG of course, and Coachella looks nice too. Oh and Rock Am Ring and Rock Am Park but the dream is happening, we’re booked there this summer.
Has anything exceptionally weird/crazy happened to you since you’ve been playing together/on tour? Been shit on by a bird or anything fun?
A: We almost got into a fight right after our first week of rehearsal in France, right after the last dinner with the team from the venue. We got picked on by a local bro who looked like he owned the place and our hormones stood in the way of intelligence, that was a group forming experience.
Some girl in Austin once asked us to meet “Stéphane from Daft Punk” (there is no guy from Daft Punk named Stéphane) because he was obviously her future husband and they met already and of course, he was part of Jamaica. We couldn’t get rid of her all night and she got pretty scary. I think she even started believing one of us was actually this Stéphane guy and pretending he wasn’t.
Does ‘No Problem’ have a common theme? Do you have a favorite lyric/verse on the album?
A: It’s probably about relationships, friendship, having to work on the side without being able to fulfill your dreams, being an asshole with the ones you love. 20 something year old man issues. Growing up and learning about one’s own masculinity. My favourite words are probably “When I hear the trumpets playing in Jericho, I’ll let you know” and “This is a smile I would never have to believe in.” Simple, yet meaningful.
Who are your biggest influences? Who are your biggest inspirations (musically or otherwise)?
A: I’m really inspired by great songwriting in general. It always relies in the end on whether you know how to write good songs rather than being technical or well produced. It’s better if you can do both of course. Lately, ELO is making a come back in my heart, so is David Bowie.
Are there any new artists that you are currently really digging and would maybe like to collaborate with?
A: Is Julian Casablancas still new? I’d like to see him writing, it must be interesting. Siriusmo too. I know them already but I also think Metronomy are people I’d like to give a shot at writing songs with. And I’m currently working on new songs with DVNO and The Teenagers, I’m really happy with what we are coming up with.
If you could have a week paid, perfect vacation,where would you go and what would you do?
A: I’d go anywhere I can read on a really quiet beach, mountains not far to have long exhausting walks too and eventually a casino, a cheap vintage guitar shop and the best museums in the world. But no tourists at all, please.
The number one reason DC should come out and watch your show on Wednesday is…..
A: You don’t want to miss our first show on the day of the release of our first album. You will be able to say “I was there and I played guitar on stage with Jamaica on their last song”.
THANKS DUDES 🙂