The sound of Jamaican Queens has no label, no genre. It just is and sounds like nothing you are currently familiar with. The band themselves call their music Trap Pop, a sound that is very prominent in their newest release “Bored + Lazy”, a sound that takes you back to the 90’s when JT wore denim suits and destiny’s child still had that dirty Houston R&B groove, but with a lot more Auto-Tune and a blast of synths and delays. Is fantastic really. It makes all to much sense that Jamaican Queens have such unique sound, since in the beginning stages of the band they were responsible for the production of behind a couple Illinois’ rappers, as well as being part of multiple bands before settling down as Jamaican Queens.
The band came to showcase their experimental lyrical talents with their debut album “Wormfood” a slow-burning mockery on suicide, self consumed addictions and romantic obsession with songs like “Kids Get Away” and “Water”. Some of the lyrics read
“you took my heart
and i just sat there drinking water
and my heart suffered more and more each day”
We got a chance to catch up with the Ryan Spenser, Adam Pressley, Ryan Clancy and Charles who make up Jamaican Queen during 35 Denton, on their way to SXSW, where they performed a fantastic set at Harvest House, the newest outdoor venue in the city. The mood of the night was very hospitable,the outdoor wooden stage that resembled a very humble Texan farm house, a few overly comfortable couches sat by the fire pit that shined neon colors and more craft beers that you can taste in a week. Jamaican Queens took the stage without much announcement, a few fans gathered up front for a closer view and other few decided to stay back to enjoy they beer. Yet, as soon as the band went into full motion the raw vibes of the Queens attracted everyone out front, it was their sound that made the non-fans push their way in to capture a glance of the action.
So after the fire settled we sat down with the band to ask the questions everyone that night wanted to ask.
Welcome back to Denton guys, we have been expecting your arrival. How was playing the Harvest House for 35 Denton?
“Is been great, everyone that works at the festival was super helpful and it was organized well. The sound people at Harvest House were very helpful, cool stage and the sound was one of the best we played in the past week. Playing outside was really cool, that is something that almost never happens where we are from because the weather is so bad”
The sound of Jamaican Queens is on of those unique captivating sounds that can grab attention from anyone immediately exposed to it, there is only a handful of bands I have encountered that really can pull that off. Where does that sound come from?
“We are influences by too many different genres, but at the end the sincerity in music is something that people are drawn to. The most important contemporary artist now days have it, when you hear a Kendrick Lamar song you know there is something different about it regardless of maybe what the influences of rap styles you hear in his music, there is still something that he has that can be tell apart from everyone else. That is what we are passionate about, when you work so hard on something and spend so much time on a project, we want people to recognize that sound in us as well”
You guys seem to be very prideful of your city, you represent it very well. What is going on with the Detroit underground scene now days?
“Detroit’s art scene is great, there are a lot of cool new art thats coming out and it works for us as musicians because there is a lot of events happening. The dance music scene is very strong, late night electronic techno events. There is a lot of really cool after hours warehouse parties. Its pretty easy to get a hold of a big warehouse for quite cheap, so they pop up fora short amount of time and cultivate the scene for a couple month, then usually after a while they gets shut down by the police”
“Detroit is still very small, so each scene only has so many artist where very show we go to weather it is HipHop, Rap show, Techno show we always see the same people, everyone knows each other. There is no defined scene, everyone gets jooky together and thats something I really like about Detroit”
And what is Jooky mean exactly?
“Cool, jooky is just whatever positive force that comes into your life. You know you are feeling jooky, that shirt is jooky, last night was jooky… Racism, not jooky” “Dopehead in branded that into our heads somehow, if you follow him on twitter it just kind of becomes a part of your everyday vocabulary”
I get it it’s one of those things you can’t escape. Once you are in it you are in it for life.
Talking about Dopehead your collaboration with him and Nick Speed, that turn out to be pretty insane. Is that what Detroit is coming to be a collaborative between multiple genres?
“It is appearing you wouldn’t expect but because is such a small scene everyone interacts with each other and collaborations like that happen” “He got sensible with that collaboration too, he was talking about love.”
“I don’t think once he said the word Bitch. I don’t think there is a single song in his mixtape where he does’t say Bitch”
I think that is something you have in your advantage, you have such complex sound that incorporates different techniques and styles from different genres that makes it easier for almost anyone to relate to your music. So talk to me about Trap Pop. Never did I think such term could exist, but somehow once I heard your sound suddenly everything made sense” What is Trap Pop?
“I think we just kind of use it as a way to describe our music for a lack of a better term, with our last record we were getting into trap music a lot at that time, and we started using a lot of the same sounds. But it wasn’t rap, it was still pop music. But I think Born and Lazy is probably gonna be the most R&B like song on this record”
I know some of you go back to working and making music for local rappers, and that influences your music. If you have a chance to book one rapper to do a collaboration with between Mykki Blanco, Chance the Rapper or Danny Brown who would you go with?
“Mikky Blanco would be really good for us I think”
“Chance the Rapper I think really embodies a style that we have done involving psychedelic hip hop, he is very experiential and whiling to take chances with his music so I think it would work”
“Danny Brown is into weird shit, he might be into what we do”
Where would you perform such collaboration?
“At the Super Bowl halftime of course. “
Do you think that Jamaican Queens and all other local acts from Detroit coming together, sharing the underground together maybe means that the music scene in Detroit is trying to support the image of Detroit by supporting each other with your art?
Ryan S: “I think if anything good happens to any Detroit band it will be good for all Detroit bands because there will be more attention on the city as a whole, but I think the city is gonna keep growing any way, there is a lot of media attention to the city and there is a lot of focus on the art and the music. So as time moves on the bands that are doing interesting stuff in Detroit will get more coverage from national blogs and media outlets”
Adam: “Ryan is really plugged in with whats going on with the city, not only with the music but also with the political aspect and since we do get asked about Detroit often we rather give people a better inside about what really is going on there not so much as saying the obvious like ‘Yeah every building is abandon and it sucks’ like many other people would say, so I think that might help the image of the city a little bit”
“Starting a community and doing something small is important before it grows, before people can talk about it… it has to exist.” Ryan Spencer
Well said, well on a lighter note if Spotify had a Playlist based off your music and Trap Pop. What are some other bands you would like to be pared up with?
Ryan C: “I think Adams productions remind me a little bit of old Timberland, but maybe the knife or the Gorillaz they also have that hip hop electronic production”
Charles : “Hopefully some Reggae music, I think growing up we all listen to some reggae and ska bands so I hope that comes through in the Jamaican queen sound”
So what do you think about Texas guys? How are you enjoying the town of Denton?
“We went out to this Mexican after hours place called Sabrositas and their salsa and their chips were unbelievable, so thats the coolest think about Texas so far”
“The second thing is that you guys have TopoChico everywhere, we only have it at Mexican Town.”
Thank you guys for sharing your music with us, we hope you well in the future and be careful at SXSW things get out of hand out there.
Regardless of if their exposure reaches national attention or the independent markets for the musically cultured. Jamaican Queens has the potential to become a cult of some sort to a generation, with a collective of one liners that become chants for the heartbroken and the bitter and a combination of multi cultural sounds and techniques that appeal to almost everyone, Jamaican Queens is a band that deserves to be heard.
Check out their Music Video for “Love is Impossible”