Music Interview: Jamaican Good Music

Jamaica’s Antoine Hilaire uses his travel time to Berlin to chat with Imelda Hehir about the band’s first major tour and their plans for HalloweenJamaica are a band who are making waves at the moment. Their considerable impact on the dance music scene has even enabled them to appear on Tony Fenton’s playlist. Despite being barely aware of such plaudits, the band are embracing their growing success. One week into their tour, Antoine Hilaire tells o-two that shows have been great, and anticipation is growing, particularly in relation to their American dates. “It will be our first tour there, and although we know the country quite well, it is the first time we will get to play there.”Due to illness, o-two learns that bassist Florent Lyonnet will be sitting out the start of the tour. However, there is a silver liningto this unfortunate occurrence. Their temporary touring bassist has expanded Hilaire’s musical palette, as he has been playing the early of U2 works lately. The French singer confesses: “I only knew the hits, but the first record is really good, and I’m more into them than I expected to be.” From the Irish music scene to the French, o-two asked if the band are happy to be part of the their own country’s new music scene which appears to be stepping back from the characteristic electro/dance sound for which France is renowned. While not entirely neglecting the dance influence of their peers, Jamaica lean far more towards the indie-rock side of things when it comes to creating new music.Whilst mentioning their contemporaries like Daft Punk, Justice, The Teenagers and Phoenix, Hilaire said: “It’s a great honour to be mentioned in the same sentence, but we do play different music and I hope that we bring something new, something different from those bands, even though we are only on our first record.”Despite production on debut album No Problems coming from Xavier de Rosnay of Justice and Peter Franco, the band stuck to their ‘no synth rule’.It’s no surprise French director So-Me is behind the genius video for the single ‘I think I like U2’. The video involves stereotypical images of a clichéd rock star career portrayed by the band and Hilaire jokes: “So-Me never has any good ideas, we had to take care of it.”On a more serious note, Hilaire adds: I don’t remember who came up with the first idea, but we definitely worked on the basic concept together, and then put pen to paper and then left it completely in their hands.”While only being at the beginning of the tour, Hilaire admits they have already given thought to their Irish Halloween show. Admitting he has never really celebrated the festival, he concludes: “I just want the people to come and have a good time with us; we will probably prepare something special.”Jamaica hit The Academy on October 31st. Their debut album No Problems is out now.