Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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The Bullitts: Everybody be cool (Part 1)

The Bullitts
The Bullitts Amelia Sparks

Bullet: A projectile for firing sometimes containing an explosive. Also used in similes and comparisons to refer to someone or something that moves very fast.

If you put both those meanings together and mess around with the spelling a bit, you could come up with 'The Bullitts' and head honcho and background-man (as opposed to a frontman - you'll see why), Jeymes Samuel. Dashing, charming, enthusiastic and effervescent to name but a few engaging traits which rose to the foreground when we had chat at the Electric Cinema on London's Portobello Road. A man who's confidence factor probably reads off the richter scale and if he ever gave up his mission to entertain the masses, he would make a mint as an excellent motivational coach. And with a phone book that must read like a who's who of the arts/music world, strikes me as a man who probably does not hear the word "no" too often….

But enough about Jeymes for a moment (sorry Jeymes). Instead onto my mission on this bright n'sunny afternoon, which was to find out about this producer/musician/filmmaker's new venture. And as exciting as Jeymes' sounds, The Bullitts project compared, has gone stellar in the excitement stakes! Featuring the Twitter feed/diary (of Amelia Sparks, played by Lucy Liu) to rival no other, as daily content is streamed to the massing Bullitts fanatical. Which, when mixed with pivotal pictorial/film content added daily entwining itself around The Bullitts tunes, and if you add a content/ethos which has drawn the likes of international movie star Lucy Liu and Jay-Z's new bright young thang Jay Electronica to contribute to the albums first release. The Bullitts have found themselves squarely on the forefront of musical entertainment while attracting a plethora of quality artists from all fields to form an orderly queue, all hopefully waiting to sign-up/or to be signed-up to participate in one medium or another which The Bullitts are participating in AND intend to dominate.

So to give this particular story a proper intro... we find B&S Editor, Lee Tyler, sitting down in the bijou/swanky surroundings of the Electric Cinema/restaurant with one Jeymes Samuel of Bullitts fame. Jeymes' opening line as he sits and orders his orange juice and lemonade is "Hi Lee, I'm James and I talk A LOT!", so prepare for A LOT of talking because we've got A LOT of business to discuss...

JEYMES: I remember one time I was leaving the house… I was working with an artist, I can't remember who the artist was, but I wasn't really infused right — about the project. When I got to the door my sister took the mick "have a good day at work Jeymes." [Laughs]. Then I left the house and we were laughing about it for ages. …I then said, "I will never work with an artist that I don't enjoy working with" (convenient he couldn't remember who that artist was! Lol). I just can't do it, that's not my M.O - but I suppose in this industry you get songwriters and producers who are mercenaries.

LEE: Can I ask you, at what point of your career where you at then, where you at a point where you could pick and choose who you worked with?

JEYMES: Interestingly enough, I actually chose to work with that particular person at the time, but I was probably always at that point because I always just done what I want to do. I would select and then go and hunt that person, whether it be Terry Callier or Amelia Terrini - it was people that I just loved.

LEE: I reiterate, was that at a point where you could do that?


LEE: [Laughs] Oh really…

JEYMES: I came in like that — its like me and you right… My background is heavily in film as well as it is in music and I do both of them - that's why everything I do I have to do it differently — my album is narrated by Lucy Liu, she plays the femme fatale Amelia Sparks, she's on death-row.

LEE: But Lucy Liu, being an actress… she's like an orbiting planet, so to speak, for you to be able to call upon to make the Bullitts project come to fruition - she isn't accessible, or should I say, you wouldn't think of her contributing to a musical project in this way normally.

JEYMES: For other people it's an orbiting planet, for us it's not an orbiting planet, I love music as I do film - I love the arts, I'm an artist, my brain hears music and film as one! So Lee, Jay Electronica is ill! Lucy Lu is ill! They deserve to occupy the same space in my brain — it's one and the same!

LEE: So, the story comes into your head first, or do you hear a lick, or you write the music first, or…?

JEYMES: Sometimes it's the idea, my brain is like a kaleidoscope of voices, probably why I'm known for something as schizophrenic as the Bullitts - and I hear them all at once! Sometimes I'll just be hearing an ill track and they always merge. Say if I'm watching The Magnificent Seven, 'I'm listening to the score by Elmer Bernstein, I'll be hearing words over that score but there's no words over it! So when I go home, I'll say "man that's gangster - let me put the words over that." The Bullitts do this thing called The Flicks Tape right, where I take obscure and popular TV themes and re-imagine them, so I put 'Passion Pit' over the 'The Tales Of The Tales Of The Unexpected' theme - so I wrote an ill joint off it! Or 'The Persuaders' theme, I took 'The Persuaders' theme and I wrote a song. I put Róis�n Murphy on it, that's a bad tune!

LEE: Like a Bond theme…

JEYMES: Its like a Bond theme, ‘because it was John Barry that done 'The Persuaders' theme. So I leave the music as is, then I'll write a song over it, put an ill artist on it and then I'll re-edit the clip for ‘The Persuaders’.

LEE: Do you imagine the artist as you write it… Do you say, I'm writing this for him or her as screenwriters do for actors?

JEYMES: Yeah, like 'Tale Of The Unexpected/Passion Pit,' I put Wretch 32 on the song for 'Magnum Force' right. But it's Flicks Tape, so I put the actual movie in it, then I take a scene and re-edit the scene — then I'll put the opening title sequence like I'm re-imagining the tittle sequence. I done ‘Taxi’, I sang that one myself, I think it's really nice personally [laughs]. In my brain there are too many holes! Too many holes that aren't filled, at least in my physique — so as opposed to being the kid that complains, my frustration is filled with my artistry. I'll hear a sound track, then I'd say "wouldn't it be great if…," then I'll write the song and then put the person on it. That's how I view the arts if I'm making an album — somehow, some way, it will more than lightly turn into a script. There'll be a narration in it, or some actors or actresses will end up being in it… I suppose Jay Electronica is exactly the same, his forthcoming album 'Act Two: Patients Of Nobility' in turn is really cinematic in its presentation. He took the 'The Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind' score and rhymed over the whole thing for nine minutes with no beats. I think that's why we get on so well artistically… So If I'm doing a Twitter page I automatically know that Twitter page will end up having actors and actresses in it. It's about Amelia Sparks, which is Lucy Liu's character. She, by the time the album is released, will be on death-row. She's sent too her death (or will she?) but the Twitter feed from here up until the album release is what happens in-between. We will be like, "I'm just chillin', speaking to Jeymes at the moment". And I would be like "I'm just speaking to Lee, we're in Electric House…" But Amelia Sparks will be on Twitter with "I just this phone call from Saul Emmanuel," who's played by Idris Alba, "have to run to a meeting…" And she'll be taking pictures from her phone and filming little clips.

LEE: Talking of Saul, there's two Saul's yeah?

JEYMES: “Yeah, the real Saul came in and revealed himself, that's Idris Alba - the other guy turned out to be a guy called Anthony Campbell, who is probably on his way to a swift death! So, everything I do artistically and creatively, would have a cinematic… I suppose, a cinematic feel. I feel like, all of these things are brought together; music, film, social networks — they are just broader story telling canvases. When you write a song it’s like a story, when you listen to… Say, ‘Thriller’, it’s like a story, "Its close to midnight…" IS a story. So, songs ARE stories, they are three verses and three choruses and you take ‘em somewhere. It's a story of some sort and I love the story telling.

LEE: Do you think having a story to tell helps people to relate?

JEYMES: I think so. I know that a lot of us, as artists, we don't necessarily embrace the story telling aspect of song that much. I think that immigration has been lacking a little bit in where we've come musically. Practically every song on the radio is about love and stuff, which to me is a concept - If you've got an album of love songs that's a concept album to me. To me it's not a concept album if you write about the invasion of Iraq, that's because it's really happening — but if the first song is 'I Love You', the second song is 'I Hate You' and the third song is 'You Cheated On Me' (Hey, we've all written that album!), the fourth song is 'Blame It On The Aah, Aah, Aah'- Man! How many emotions with love are you going through in one scene - that's a concept album as far as I'm concerned. Whereas I'd like to see more things that I can relate to, not everyones in love, right? Sometimes you're rocking a single manoeuvre…

LEE: They did didn't they? "That Thong Th-Thong Thong Thong…"[Laughs]

JEYMES: If you're gonna write a love song, all right man, but come on lets do something else with it. Joni Mitchell 'Court And Spark' "Love came to my door in sleeping roll and a madman's soul. He thought for sure I'd seen him dancing up the river in the dark looking for a woman to court…" She speaks about love like a third person, which is gonna happen. Kate Bush 'Babushka', when she's writing "she said she sent him letters and he received them in return, just like…" She writes a letter to her husband because her relationship is boring right, so she writes a letters to her husband from someone else "she signs the letter all yours, Babushka, Babushka, Babushka-ya-ya, she signs the letter all yours, Babushka, Babushka, Babushka-ya-ya…" I can relate to that! Sometimes you're in a relationship and it just gets boring, that is more realistic to me than "I love you, you're the best!" How often do you feel like saying that? My point is, I like the craziness of all of our imaginations, I don't believe we all have ideas if we're not meant to execute them in some way… So, back to Lucy Liu, in my brain they are right there - from Idris Elba to Lucy Liu to Jay Electronica to Mos Def to Tori Amos, in my head it's all one!

The Bullitts 'Close Your Eyes' (feat. Jay Electronica and Lucy Liu) is OUT NOW on Outfit label. Album 'They Die By Dawn And Other Short Stories' will be everywhere this summer!


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