Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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The Bullitts: Everybody be cool (Part 2)

The Bullitts
The Bullitts The Bullitts

In true film noir style, here is the second part of our epic interview... as we shed light on the style, ideas, plot-lines, structure, brilliance and the madness (and I mean that in the best possible way) that is THE BULLITTS!

So where was was I... Ohh yes... your mild (ish) mannered reporter, Editor Lee Tyler, is in the middle of interviewing The Bullitts Super 'front' Man Jeymes Samuel. Now on my second soft drink of the afternoon and the conversation topics are hotting up nicely... as we begin at the end, by continuing on from last month's cliffhanger!?

JEYMES: 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!

LEE: Do you see them as the characters that they have previously played in other films — for example, Lucy Liu as a character she has previously played or Idris from something like The Wire?

JEYMES: Not really, a dope actor or actress is a dope actor or actress, I just imagine the possibilities… Like, I've recorded a great deal of the Bullitts album and then listened to it and was enjoying what I had assembled — then one day I said "I need a femme fatale man!" Simultaneously me saying I need a femme fatale to narrate this album I thought Lucy Liu, the only real life femme fatale to me…

LEE: The only one that came to mind?

JEYMES: The ONLY one that came into my mind. So I started writing to her…

LEE: How did she take your advances?

JEYMES: She was on-board imminently!

LEE: Did you explain the concept to her?


LEE: You sat down with her…

JEYMES: No, no, no — it was just through emails like, "If Lucy can read this?" She read it and was like "I'm in! If the project sounds as good as it reads, if the songs and everything is as good as what was being explained to me then I'm in! At that point I knew I had my Amelia Sparks, I knew I was almost there…

LEE: She's a very important character, she's the thread.

JEYMES: Yeah man, she's the tie that binds the whole album together, ‘cause the album is woven in and out of her narrative. I think that we shouldn't be afraid to explore new territory, we shouldn't be afraid to explore the ideas that come into our brain. You would be surprised how many of us watch Raging Bull "yo man De Niro," me I walk away going "De Niro is dope man, I want to be into that". You know what, I want to work with Ronnie Corbett and Leslie Phillips (Ding-Dong!). I think they are the dopiest — 100%… Like, BBC News Beat actually printed what I told them, but we were speaking after the interview. I was saying that, if you're an old lady in your house and you're not into modem music. You're probably into Vera Lynn and she likes the old Ealing comedies and your T.V is on in the background with some news playing… I want that lady to look at the television and see one of her favourite actors on the television and go "oh what's he doing on?" Un-mute theT.V and find out he's doing something with the Bullitts. I told this to Jay and he didn't know who Ronnie Corbett was and even he was like "man that would be dope!" Imagine Ronnie Corbett in his Lyle Scott, imagine me doing a Bullitts performance in the Roundhouse. [Starts to sing] "Close your eyes, baby your…. this is your life, cradle and life… everything…" and a spotlight comes on and there is Ronnie Corbett sitting on a chair…

LEE: On a big Chair? [Laughs]

JEYMES: Not a big chair, a little chair, with a spotlight wearing his Lyle Scott and Ronnie Corbett goes, with no music; [In Jeymes' best Ronnie Corbett] "Good evening ladies and gentlemen, have you had that feeling like you been falling for weeks in a well. I was on the verge of dying like E.T. in the bald spot in the forest, right next to the speak and spell… Tryna phone home but the signal wouldn't reach the cell…' Reciting the words of Jay Electronica. For me that would be the illest accomplishment on-the-planet!" You got Ronnie Corbett…

LEE: You will have people thinking what the…

JEYMES: What the heck… Human beings are human beings right. There's no difference between Ronnie Corbett and Jay Electronica, there's no difference. Ronnie Corbett is just older — if he was younger and our age he would probably be into Eminem, he'll be into the same things as us. So art is just art. I'm gonna work with Ronnie Corbett "just stay alive Ronnie!" … I wanna do a stream of YouTube clips - I wanna do YouTube clips with Ronnie Corbett reciting a Jay Electronica verse, Leslie Phillips reciting Jay-Z a verse. Glenda Jackson, I know she's retired and she's an MP and she's all serious and all that stuff, but Glenda mate come on man! She's actually my MP for where I live...

So you're entitled to see her, but I don't know if that includes her spitting some verse for you…

JEYMES: Yeah, I'm entitled to see her - I can see her in the citizens advice bureau if I want to! [laughs] I want to see Glenda Jackson on a YouTube clip reciting the words to Nas' 'NY State Of Mind'. The problem I find with a lot of records company and industry types is they get their music for free, it's not a bad thing, if you don't have to pay — if you work in the industry, you get your music for free. But I'm a consumer, I'm a diehard buyer of music, so when I'm not making my own music I'm buying music. I am the public, the Bullitts is the public. 'They Died By Dawn And Other Short Stories' is an album made by civilians for civilians - I'm the public! I want something — the public want something. I know what the public want! A record company can't tell me what the public want — you are selling CD/music to the public when music sales are at an all time low. So you can't tell me what the public want, but I know what the public want cos I'm the public! I buy music, I stop off at every record store every time I've got the chance and I buy music. And Lee, if I want Ronnie Corbett giving me the verse to 'Exhibit C' then the public wants Ronnie Corbett… I'm the public!! (Ok I believe you! …This is worse than I'm Spartacus!) I suppose the ethos behind everything I do is that, I honestly think that we are all the same — but I think the arts is too segregated.

LEE: No artist, that I interview, like being pigeon-holed but record companies feel they have to - to sell you they will say, you'll like them because they are like such and such… Do you feel that because you are bringing other genre and medium into play, as it were, do you think that frightens the big labels - or are they open to your ideas and see you as the way forward for the industry?

JEYMES: They're kinda open to it now judging by the phone calls and stuff [laughs]. Erm, I don't meet any resistance from the labels because I've worked with a lot of them with different artists and stuff — but I find that people are too quick to categorise things. I don't mind being categorised, I suppose I just want to be categorised in what it is I do. Under/with the Bullitts I do make a genre of music, it is a particular genre, it's called 'Action & Adventure'. I make action and adventure, there's a track where I use a galloping horse as a prelude to a snare. I done a song with Jay Electronica featuring Jay-Z and Charlotte Gainsbourg for Jay's album called 'Dinner At Tiffany's/Shiny Suit Theory,' the song is seven minutes. Three and a half minutes have been leaked online, the Jay Electronica and Jay-Z part, the Charlotte Gainsbourg bit hasn't been heard. But it's called 'Dinner At Tiffany's', it's what happened in the evening after Breakfast In Tiffany's. I was like "I want to be the first one to do that title!" And Jay was like "Let's execute!" It's what happened in the evening - to me it's action and adventure. It goes from one place; a 'Moon River' type song and turns into this hip-hop banger with Jay Electronica and Jay-Z. But you have three and a half minutes of Charlotte Gainsbourg doing a three/four times signature sultry orchestra lead. So the Bullitts make action and adventure.

LEE: Would you be annoyed if they said it was a different genre?

JEYMES: No, no… like, you never get annoyed cos its fun just being able to say that its anything. I think that as artists we can get a little too full of ourselves, if you can make some of those people that are listening to it to call it something… I'm grateful for the various titles it could be given. I know it's kinda like a tongue twister cos of the "Twitter feed" and the "Lucy narrative"…

LEE: Did you envisage the Twitter feed side of things when the idea first came to you and how the project has taken shape since?


LEE: So it just fell into place?

JEYMES: Yeah, yeah… I didn't envisage… when I began making the album I didn't even know that Lucy Liu was gonna be on it. I was just making a collection of songs that were in me and needed to come out. There's some songs that I'd write that I know I can't really give to anyone cos of the subject matter. Like a song called 'Strange Days' which is almost about an other worldly attack on this planet. [Laughs] But that's just how it ended up while I was writing it and obviously I wanted to hear it otherwise I wouldn't have written it - I didn't aim to do that, I was thinking of Blade Runner. I called it 'Strange Days' after the Ralph Finnes/Juliette Lewis movie. I write from that kinda of unusual angle all the time.

LEE: Do you look for that angle, or is that you?

JEYMES: Nah, I suppose that's the kinda conversations I have and then I write... It's more realistic to me writing a song about an alien attack than writing a song about a relationship I've never had before - unless I wanna have it!

LEE: Do you feel you need a big medium, or a better medium to express yourself?

JEYMES: I like the medium I have but I like finding new ones, song is a wicked medium, a dope medium for me to express myself in. But Twitter equally is a wicked medium, everyday I write Amelia Sparks diary very day and it's mad exciting for me to… It's almost like I'm living a duel life!

LEE: That's what I want to know, I wanted to know if it's you - people will want to know. Who's behind it - is it a little man in a room somewhere and you check it?

JEYMES: Nah, I write it every-single-day, today I'm on day 122. It's all in my brain.

LEE: Are you going to be able to bring closure to that?

JEYMES: Yeah, cos she ends up in death-row so we're gonna what happens. You're gonna see kidnapping, do set pieces, car chases - I'm straight taking it there! I'm taking Twitter… I'm making Twitter something you can read, something you can watch, so I can reach people that wouldn't really use Twitter. And they go "hah! That's onTwitter".

LEE: I've seen some of the videos and they are very much, shall we say, Dharma-esque.

JEYMES: [Laughs] Really! On the Twitter feed? Cos she'll take pictures after a killing and filming a little bit and stuff. I don't know if she's a psychopath, but she definitely is a killer!

LEE: So she likes it?

JEYMES: Well, she has kinda been fallen/dragged into it - kind of. I think she was bored with her life and wanted something new (maybe try knitting!), now she's fallen into this deep conspiracy and stuff and this organisation called 'Circle Of Acropolis'. The story unfolds day-to-day, I don't know where the story is going from day-to-day. I know where she ends up, obviously on death-row. But how… what happens to her is… I understand how soap operas and that work now cos i honestly do not know! Meanwhile I'm making Jay Electronica's album and the Bullitts album, but for me it doesn't seem that I'm busy because this stuff doesn't seem like work to me. If something seems like work to me, then you would see my laziness set in, I wouldn't do it on time and I wouldn't… But it doesn't seem like work to me - my brain runs at 100 miles-an-hour! (Jeymes man, I think you're missing at least a couple of zero's off that statement! lol)

LEE: Have you already thought about what the next instalment is going to be?

JEYMES: A hundred percent, straight up and down, the whole trilogy. Me and Lucy are going back and forth… Lucy say's you have to kill off Amelia Sparks cos she's on death-row, she says "for it to be iconic" And I'm like, "ok then look, we'll take it to the public then - a public vote, cos personally I don't want to kill her, I want a trilogy". But she says "if where're gonna make this as iconic as we need to, she has to die!". Personally, I like a good survival scene (any wiser? I didn't thick so!?). So I suppose we'll see whoever wins that argument… Now if she lives I know where II want to take it, I don't necessarily know tittles yet, but I know where I want to take it and what actors and actresses I want to use for part deux and trois - for me, I want a trilogy.

LEE: I think by the way you are going and by the way you're maintaining it, it's film-esque. Why not?

JEYMES: Yeah man, absolutely!

LEE: Do you mind if people call it a concept album?

JEYMES: Nah, If some calls it that, it's like Jack Sparrow (Pirates Of The Caribbean). "You're the worst pirate I've ever heard of…", "but you have heard of me!" So if someone calls it a concept album or just an album or whatever, I'm just happy they call it! Man, I could be doing something much more of a chore.

LEE: Lastly, where did the name The Bullitts come from?

JEYMES: Because I love Steve McQueen Bullitt, so it's just 'The Bulitts'. I always loved that movie, Steve McQueen is the epitome of swagger. He's a dude, man!

LEE: lol.. So are you Jeymes man, so are you...

The Bullitts hot second single 'Landspeeder' is OUT NOW on Outfit label. Album 'They Die By Dawn And Other Short Stories' will be everywhere this summer!

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