The Bullitts, a UK outfit composed of singer/songwriter/producer Jeymes Samuel and a rotating cast of who’s who in Hollywood and music, including Idris Elba, Jay Electronica and Lucy Liu, is creating quite the buzz with cinematic visuals, intoxicating beats, thoughtful lyrics and awesomely random celeb cameos. Just a few weeks ago, the blogosphere was buzzing over a video of a seemingly homeless man waving down Rosario Dawson and enticing her to dance on the street. The homeless man was Samuel in disguise performing a music video (see above) for a fun and thumping dance track called “Supercool.” With all his quirky ideas, magnanimous collaborations and hundreds of thousands of YouTube views, we had to know more about this West Londoner. Check out our Q&A for more.
So, let’s get right to it, how did you come up with the idea for the "Supercool" video?
Originally, when I had the "tramp and trolley" idea, I wanted to do a slew of different people and different interactions. But Rosario was the one person that I knew that this situation could really happen to. And no one really knows what’s in a tramp’s shopping cart and I’ve always wondered that. That’s why it’s hilarious that I have this speaker and an iPod in there.
The greatness of it is that so many people walk away thinking it’s real. How was it to film? Were there a lot of people around?
There was a huge crowd behind us that you couldn’t see and they were all filming with their cameras, all trying to figure out what was going on. I think it’s so dope that people think that it’s real. I remember Rosario saying, "So Jeymes, there’s no permit for this, right? Are we going to get stopped by the police?" I said, "If we get stopped by the police, Rosario, those police are going to be in that music video. Because when I yell 'action,' my name’s still Jeymes Samuel and you’re Rosario Dawson. It’s just that I’m homeless and I don’t know these guys that are filming me. So if the police say stop filming, it’s all going to end up in the final piece."
How did you link up with Rosario and your other all-star cast of collaborators?
Rosario is supercool. People don’t know how swagged-out she is. We stay up until 6 AM in iPod wars, putting each other up on music. Jay Electronica and I met as friends first. All the music stuff came later. I think we met via our manager, Tony Tagoe, but whose also like my best friend. So we’d just be hanging out and talking music and talking film and one thing led to another. And it was just a perfect combo. The others, it was my honest belief that "if you build it, they will come." Lucy is now one of my close friends, but I had no relationship with her prior to The Bullitts. One day, I woke up while I was recording the album and I said, 'I need Lucy Liu to be Amelia Sparks (a character on the album). I need a femme fatale.' So, it became Operation: Get Lucy Liu. I love the adventure of finding that person.
Where does the name The Bullitts come from?
The name came about because I always used to call my songs "bullets." Like, if someone wanted a track from me, like I wrote and produced a bunch of Mr. Hudson’s album, like the song, “Straight No Chaser,” I’d call it a bullet. Or my manager would say, "Jeymes, give me another bullet." People think it’s a band or some kind of musical ensemble, but it’s just the moniker I use to make music. But it’s handy because sometimes I’ll have a song in my head and I’ll want Tori Amos to sing it. As Jeymes Samuel, that doesn’t quite work, but as The Bullitts, I can pretty much do what I like.
I read an article where you describe the forthcoming They Die By Dawn and Other Short Stories record as five-dimensional. How would you categorize your music?
None of the music I make has a genre in my head. I just compile the sounds to the visuals that I see and hear. Like my album isn’t a concept album, it’s just the way I see music. For me it’s just “action-adventure,” straight up and down — it’s just “let’s go kill it!”
When creating, what comes first, the music or the visual?
It all comes together at the same time in my mind. So if I make music, the visual comes at the exact same time. Or if I shoot something and I’ve got my camera on me and I’m walking down the street and we’re talking, I’ll start thinking of the song behind it. A lot of times I’ll have the song first because a guitar riff is quicker to lay down than an actual production, so to speak. But the ideas come at the same time, hence the songs that I write have some kind of film title or reference. Like the song I did with Jay-Z and Charlotte Gainsbourg for Jay Electronica’s album is called “Dinner at Tiffany’s.”
Well that explains the story of Amelia Sparks, which you told through Twitter. Why did you choose to use social media as your platform?
If I make a slice of toast, I want to eat it, not Tweet it. Twitter and Facebook are great as broader storytelling canvases. And you know how I get down. I’ll do a Twitter feed and have Idris Elba acting in it. I’ve got more characters to add, but I decided to save it for when I’m finishing it off so I can tie [it] into the release of the album.
Check out the story of Amelia Sparks here. And stay tuned for more on Jeymes Samuel. He’s got a Black western in the works that includes not only the Bullitts’ usual suspects, but also a host of other majorly talented Black actors and musicians.
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