Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jamaican Queens' Adam Pressley: Chattin' With Milo

It lives...
This ol' blog's back for a week or two.

So then - Jamaican Queens are a new OddPop trio featuring former members of Prussia and Rescue. They've got three shows under their each of their three belts (should they be wearing any) and can be seen, next, on June 30th, outside the Woodbridge Pub for the Merrick N' Trumbull Fest. 

JQ co-founder/guitarist/bassist/singer -Adam Pressley - chatted with me...two weeks back...

Adam Pressley:  -Hey homey
I am here for a while, ask away!

Jeff Milo:  -Oh, man!...where to start? How did this band get started -and- when!? How tied to the "end" of Prussia is it? How would you describe it's birth?

Adam Pressley:  -Ryan (Spencer) and I started (Jamaican Queens) about 3 or 4 months before Prussia broke up. At the time, we could tell the end was coming soon, and we were already getting excited about the prospect of being a 2-man musical-collaboration rather than a full band like Prussia.
The smaller the collaborative group, the smoother things go; in a creative sense and decision-making sense as well. So that was really attractive...
That didn't really answer your first question...

Jeff Milo:  -Not really, but no worries. So you and Ryan had this cooking, sorta, on the side, before putting an end to Prussia...

Adam Pressley: -You could say we actually "got started" when I first moved to Detroit and then I showed Ryan some of my rap beats and he bragged, "I wanna write to this; I can write to anything."
Heheh...and then we made Prussia Goes to the Disco (a limited "summer" mix-tape release out from August 2010)...with those same initial beats.

photo: Karpovthewreckedtrain

Jeff Milo:  -Beyond the smaller-collaborative-appeal, something seems to have clicked particularly between you and Ryan; in fact, Ryan Clancey (JQ drummer) described it as two halves of a music brain firing together. Did you guys click in anyway before, back when your two bands (Prussia and Ohtis) played together? What makes that work for you two?

Adam Pressley:  -I think Clancy is right in that we are opposites in a lot of ways, which probably makes us good collaborating partners. I feel like we both are big fans of what the other is doing, because I would never come up with the creative ideas Ryan does and vice-versa.
We never collaborated musically when I was in Ohtis, just with show swapping. Me hooking up Prussia shows in central Illinois and Ryan hooking up Ohtis shows in Detroit.

Jeff Milo:  -So this was born from your beat production and Ryan's lyrics...then the disco mixtape; so, what has Jamaican Queens become, song-wise/sound-wise? How would you describe...

Adam Pressley: -The biggest difference for me is that we honestly didn't plan on releasing the mixtape songs until the very end of creating it, whereas we went into the Jamaican Queens' songs knowing we were making music that would be released. It's a lot different creating music when you know people are going to hear it.

Jeff Milo: -That's a different writing experience then, because you risk over-thinking...

Adam Pressley: -Yeah totally, that can happen. But a writer needs to be able to take that into consideration when they write. There were definitely songs where we went through a few different "versions" and ended up deciding to keep the stripped-down version. Sonically, we found a more cohesive sound. It's still very electronic like the mixtape was, but I feel like it's more original.
Also, with the mixtape a negative thing that can come from the careless approach is that some of our ideas were half-baked and performances were poor.
The whole thing could've been professionally mixed to sound way better even to the ears of people who might dig the slacker element to that release.

 Jeff Milo: -What happened with Prussia, in the end? And, was being able to stretch your legs into different territory (like JQ) something you two needed? Was there a specific moment or song-you-worked on that you'd consider a formative moment for you two? where it came down to: okay, yes, we can do another band together - let's do this

Adam Pressley: - Prussia came to a close because every member except for Ryan and I was not able to continue making a sacrifice in their lifestyle to pursue music. There wasn't a specific moment or song where Ryan and I realized we were able to successfully create music together; I feel like we had learned that just from playing together in Prussia.

Jeff Milo: - Well, I meant something different as in JQ, maybe it wasn't so much of a turning-down-a-new-road as I presumed it to be

Adam Pressley: -Ohh. No, we just started doing it when we saw Prussia coming to an end.

Jeff Milo: -Turning down onto a new road when you see the one you're on's runnin out. Right. Does it, at all, though, distinguish itself in how you approach it - writer-wise, music-wise, production-wise?

Adam Pressley: -I remember texting Ryan whenPrussia felt like an impossible thing for numerous reasons and telling him: ""If it ever comes down to it, you and I can pump out albums as fast and high-quality as Sean Nicholas Savage, but with a work ethic to boot."" ...Sorry, I don't understand that last question

Jeff Milo: -...prodding at what it's like approaching a more electronic-based music as opposed to guitar-bass-drum - or if you've wound up tapping into more of your hip hop side for this and to how much of an extent?

Adam Pressley: -Hey, don't use that last thing I said about Sean Nicholas Savage for anything please. haha. it sounds like a diss. Oh-kay: Wellll...I couldn't even tell you how Prussia worked on music, honestly.  I got to hear the demos for Poor English and e-mail a few ideas from Illinois but they were ready to go into the studio when I showed up to join the band.
But the way Jamaican Queens approaches music is similar to my older band, Ohtis, in that: we craft the songs at home. Demos become sessions become masters.
And then we figure out how to play those recordings live (which has involved learning a lot of new live equipment for Jamaican Queens, which I'm stoked about!)

photo: Lo-fi Bri

Jeff Milo: -So, how would you describe these songs or the sound you've developed? something spacey? danceable? gnarly? punk? groovy?

Adam Pressley: -As far as the electronic and hip hop elements that are present in Jamaican Queens, but weren't present in Prussia or Ohtis...I've always made electronic music since I began playing guitar...and Ryan's always dug rap as far as I can tell.
I would describe it as
abrasive chamber hip hop
I would say bands that we ended up being similar to are:
Beta Band, Gorillaz...
Flaming Lips...
...but saying that makes us sound laaaame

Jeff Milo: -You guys producing this stuff in-house? How've you been recording and what's your live set up / live approach like? And, yeah, that whole: describe-how-you-sound question can be vague and exasperating, but its more just to put a taste in my and readers' brains...

Adam Pressley: -Yeah we recorded it all at my house and in Ryan's apartment in Southwest Detroit, the latter of which was sometimes a pain in the ass because Dark Red jam and practice a lot and they lived in the same building.
We perform with acoustic guitar, fuzz bass, acoustic and electronic drums, and a sampler.
Ryan and I did the Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr "Prussia" remix as well
and we did a remix for Fawn
...which included a sample of Thong Song by Sisqo and really MADE the remix, but their record label made us remove it. 

Jeff Milo: ...damn

Adam Pressley: -We really like remixing other people's songs. We're thinking about releasing a remix mixtape... 

Jeff Milo: -Jamaican Queens...Ryan's shown penchants for dub/reggae music in the past, so does that have any baring on what your name-DID-end up being? 

Adam Pressley: -We were just trying to brainstorm band names (we were almost called Community Crack Party), but then Ryan remembered calling himself Jamaican Queens once when he played a solo show. I have no idea how he came up with that band name, dude's crazy.
Probably something to do with his reggae love..

Jeff Milo: -Is this at all like prussia in terms of Ryan leading the way lyrics-wise? Do you ever dabble in lyrics? Or have written out words for past solo stuff or Ohtis stuff...How'd Clancey come into the picture? 

Adam Pressley: -Nope i never write lyrics, that is not my area at all and I am not interested in it. And Clancy came into the picture when we were trying to figure out who might be down to fill the role, and it turns out he is a dream to be in a band with.

Jeff Milo: -So how's it feel then to be in a new-ish band; does it feel at all like a fresh start? I'm just thinking of the exasperation leading up to/around the release of Poor English - in regards to your experience with the music industry - is this a band where you don't even wanna think about that stuff anymore - More of a just-doing-it kind of band - or do you have higher hopes or somewhat-big-plans?

Adam Pressley: -For me, it's best to not think about getting on a label, just causes anxiety. If it happens it happens. Luckily the music industry is at a point right now where if it doesn't happen, you can still find a large audience if you work hard enough and have a good enough product.
And yes we have big plans.
We are getting old and we're still sacrificing a whole lot to play music.
...old as in most people I went to high school with have kids and a career now
So that's all the reason to make this one count and learn from the bands we were in in the past.

Jeff Milo: -Right on. That's all I might bug you for, today, sir.
If any thoughts linger in your head about what this new music/these new songs, mean to you
...or how you feel about em

Adam Pressley: -Cool! If I think of anything, I'll let you know.

.....a few days later.....

Adam Pressley: -Hey, so, I was talking to Jen David (of Illy Mack) and we agreed that it'd be funny to just post this whole conversation -as-is- -on your blog and call it "Chattin with milo"....start a whole new interview style! And you can include everything even the Sean Nicholas Savage jab and then the part where I ask you not to print it...

Jeff Milo: -Well, let's catch up: How about those first three shows you've played? How does 'IT' (the music as rendered LIVE) feel and how do you feel participating, how's it flowing or how might you approach it differently the next time, if at all?

Adam Pressley: -I think the first three shows were great. We put a lot of work into rehearsing (like 2 or 3 months!) and I think we executed the songs efficiently because we nitpicked for so long. And the crowd reaction was beyond what I expected, I'm really grateful people dig it.
I think I'm ready to start focusing on making more music so no plans right now to rearrange.
I'm hosting a Karaokee thing right now, so I gotta go...

Jeff Milo: -Adam, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to chat.

Adam Pressley: -Word! The feeling is mutual, Jeff

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