By Arye Dworken
Breaking is a recurring self-titled feature where we introduce you to an artist who you’ll be hearing a lot more from this year.
This week’s installment focuses on Jamaica, a Parisian duo who just delivered their debut, No Problem, a pop-rock guilty pleasure that was produced by Justice’s Xavier De Rosnay and Daft Punk engineer Peter Franco. Here’s what frontman Antoine Hilaire had to say when we tracked him down recently…
You’re a duo from Paris, yet you’ve named your band Jamaica. Have you ever been there?
Nope, but we’d love to.
We hear the island itself was a bit upset by your name choice–is that true?
We got interviewed by a Jamaican newspaper about our music and they then used the post to have the local intellectual property office react about the use of the name Jamaica. The guy actually said it was so-so but, at least [it was used for] artistic [purposes], contrary to companies which use the name for energy drinks for instance. And again, I never thought about suing the rapper Paris, nor did the state of Arizona think about causing trouble to the band Phoenix.
Your album has been compared to Phoenix. Are they an influence of yours, and what are some others?
We love their work indeed. They released four really different records and managed to become more and more personal on the way. That’s a great lesson. They’re also really nice and down to earth. But we thought about the Police or Todd Rundgren more than Phoenix when recording.
If the two of you were only allowed one record to listen to for the rest of your lives, what would it be?
The Beatles’ Revolver. It’s short, so you don’t have to listen to it too often.
Parisians seem to be always having a good time. That being said, we’ve rarely heard depressing French music–do you know any?
Of course. Paris is multifaceted. I advise Turzi, Purr, Oulan Bator or NLF3 to get a look at Paris in a different way.
We’ve really enjoyed the video for â€œI Think I Like U 2,â€ but we have many questions. Who illustrated the Jamaica comic book? Does that red satin Jamaica jacket exist? And who’s that playing Bono?
Thanks. Thomas from Machine Molle did the drawings. We considered manufacturing the jacket in Japan but we instead made caps with a cool brand, Revolver. It’s cheaper and a jacket would have been extremely expensive. Bono is actually Bono. We’ve been friends with him for ages; he’s my godfather. Always forgets my birthdays, though.
You have a no synths rule. Is that for good, or just for this album/tour? And what do you have against them?
Nothing lasts forever. We love synths, but since we didn’t use any and decided to make chemical modern strange sounds with guitars only, we decided to make it a statement for No Problem. I think we’ll end up use some in the near future. I just don’t like to play keyboards on stage. I need some physicality and those soft keys lack resistance.
We haven’t seen you perform live yet. What’s your stage set-up like? Are you touring with a band, or it is just the two of you on stage?
We enrolled David Aknin on drums, he rules them. We are only three on stage, Flo on bass and I on guitar and vocal duties. We use a bit of technology to make things as thick as on the record. But we rely on more energy and roughness than on the album. Live performance needs that.
What does the title No Problem refer to?
We had a great time recording it, and though the lyrics are absolutely not problems free, we wanted some positivity. I’ll let you know if I’d rather die drowning or from cancer on the third record.
Let’s be honest. You’re two good-looking French musicians. Have women been throwing themselves at you?
It’s an everyday struggle, we’re too skinny to push them aside. But we’re taken, thanks.
What was the last cultural contribution that inspired you? Music, art, film, whatever.
We’re both reading Keith Richard’s bio. I hope it never inspires us on certain aspects. But he’s a funny guy.