Put some summer into your December with the slick pop licks of “I Think I Like U 2″ from Paris-based duo Jamaica, who just made their NYC debut during CMJ this October. The song’s good enough to sell cheery Volkswagons, so it’s bound to beat your winter blues.

The guys known as Jamaica, Antoine Hilaire and Florent Lyonnet, along with a little help from producers Xavier De Rosnay of Justice and Daft Punk sound engineer Peter Franco, created their upbeat anthem, then an album, No Problem, and then an EP, all the sweet butter on the toast of the jetset summer.  We spoke to Antoine just after the pair got back to France after their CMJ trip and it wasn’t a surprise that his gift of gab was just as charming as Jamaica’s songs.

How was your first experience playing to NYC crowds during CMJ?  Did you prefer the more posh venues like Hiro or the smaller Brooklyn clubs, like Public Assembly?

It was like in a movie, playing in NY was a dream come true. I liked Webster Hall better because of the ambiance and the time we played, we got a good spot right when probably the most people was gathered for the whole night. But Public Assembly was cool too, a lot of friends of Daniel’s, our substitute bass player for this tour, came and kept screaming at him. It was his last show with us, we got a little emotional.

“I Think I Like U 2″ has got to be one of the most upbeat songs I’ve heard in a while.  How did it come together–did you get a guitar melody going first or did it start out on keyboards and/or drum tracks?

First of all, thank you. It’s a mix between two songs written on guitar I proposed to the other guys. The verse comes from one called “Find a place” and the chorus and bridge were part of a song called “Jamaica”. We didn’t find any of those songs uplifting enough so we put them aside. Then, if I remember well, I came in a bit earlier than everyone that day and tried to sit at the piano to see if I could at least figure out the chords on a keyboard for this “Find a place” bit. I don’t actually play piano so I think I hit C as the first chord instead of G and it turned out easier to sing. I thought about the “Jamaica” chorus and tried to play it right into the newfound verse and it matched in a strange yet cool way. Peter came in and I think we nailed a lot of the song that day. Flo came the day after, found the bassline right away, giving the song a new drive and when Xavier came back to the studio, he fell in love with it and we started working on the solo and the structure one more day and it was done.

How do you and Flo work together on the writing?

We wrote a few songs together, whether jamming or working on the computer, like “Short and Entertaining”. I had a lot to say on this first record but I think we’ll write together more in the future. We’ll try to fool around with all the bits we’ve both written lately.

Do you play Paris or nearby cities often or do you only do special gigs when it’s a festival situation or when you have a new release?

We only played three times in Paris, two festivals and one opening gig at a really cool venue. We were really picky on purpose for our hometown because it’s a special audience, people needed to see us when we were 100% ready. Capitals are always a bit like that, but it’s a challenge to stoke people who’ve known you all your life. It’s harder than with strangers.

Have any fashion designers approached you about playing their runway show yet?  Great bands playing live on a runway stage seems to be the de rigueur thing during fashion week.

No, it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know if I’d like it or not, I guess we have to try once. Being really dressed up for a gig sounds nice. Offers await.

Do you two find yourselves listening more to electronic or rock music in your off-time, or do your tastes branch out to a bit of everything?

We really listen to every kind of music. We went through a disco phase, spent a whole after gig backstage party listening to metal, we listen to a lot of hip hop, we all fell in love with the Arcade Fire album, we’re suckers for good club music too. Nowadays, I think most iPods start with ABBA and end with Zongamin, via Nico, Siriusmo and Peter Gabriel. At least mine is like that.

Why did you decide to put out an EP soon after the album, No Problem, was released?  Did you want to get the new remixes/versions out to fans as quickly as possible?

We released the EPs according to the label’s needs to be honest, but the idea to shorten the time between the recording and the fans listening to the music is of course really important.

Next time I’m in Paris, what are some of the cafés and indie music venues I should check out?

I love most of the nights at Le Point Ephémère, they have really good taste. The Bottle Shop is a nice place too, near Bastille. I’m still looking for a place where I could plug my own iPod though. People drinking need some more ABBA.

  1. I thought those “plug your iPod” parties came to US from France, cause that would be helpful for a plug your iPod and play all the ABBA you can handle.

    Also this thing (100% hipster approved by me): http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=19349893&navAction=jump&isProduct=true&parentid=MORE%20IDEAS&isProduct=true&cross-sell=true&guide-bn=true


  2. [...] and “Short And Entertaining.” And while you’re at it, be sure to check out our interview with Hilaire from back in [...]

  3. [...] and “Short And Entertaining.” And while you’re at it, be sure to check out our interview with Hilaire from back in [...]