“Firstly, if this is truly The Source, “The Great Gatsby” gets 5 Mics.” -Jaymes Samuel.
The Source Magazine was on the red carpet for the World Premiere of “The Great Gatsby” at in the heart of Lincoln Center this week. We spoke exclusively with Jeymes Samuel from The Bullitts who served as the executive music consultant on the film. “I worked on the music with Jay-Z for The Great Gatsby,” Samuel proudly declared.
Q: So, what was it like working on Jay-Z?
Jeymes Samuel: It was amazing. It’s just like a dream. You know, you have the greatest rapper of all time…with one of the best directors of our generation, Baz Luhrmann. It’s amazing.
Q: How did you first meet Jay-Z?
Jeymes Samuel: We met through a rapper called Jay Electronica—I’m producing Jay Electronica’s album, and Jay Electronica and I collaborate a lot. He’s one of my closest friends and I produced a song with Jay Electronica called “Dinner At Tiffany’s” featuring Jay-Z and Charlotte Gainsbourg. And so, pretty much we became friends from there. And I think because Jay-Z writes really visually and I make music visually and do a lot of visuals myself film-wise, it was just a perfect combination. He asked me to come on this journey with him and that was it.
Q: So what was the process like using the visuals and creating the edgy blend of Jay-Z’s music and all of these current artists?
Jeymes Samuel: It was amazing, man. It was literally everything you think it would be and more. Like, Jigga is everything it says on the tin. He’s just as cool, his brain is even more fantastic than you could imagine, and no one has more rhymes in —there’s no rapper that has more rhymes in their head than him. And so, just to be going back and forth with him and Baz and Anton Monsted, musically and talking about the visuals and what goes where, it was literally amazing.
Q: Can you speak about how you guys chose Lana Del Rey and Florence Welch?
Jeymes Samuel: It was about what served the movie. The great thing about Baz is he doesn’t go after names and he doesn’t go after who is the most popular. He just wants to go after the right artist to serve the movie the best. Hence we had The Bryan Ferry Orchestra do a lot of the trad jazz stuff for the movie and it’s amazing. And you know about the music, you know about Bryan Ferry, but it’s not like the kids today know who Bryan Ferry is. So, with Baz, it was all about what served the movie best.
Q: Can you speak more about the process for putting together the soundtrack?
Jeymes Samuel: People would send us stuff or we’d go and create something. I think something like “Gatsby” is so unorthodox—the process was quite unorthodox as well. Also, we were on all opposite sides of the world, but living Gatsby’s vision 24 hours a day, from Anton Monsted and Baz Luhrmann being in Australia at one point when Jay-Z was in the Bahamas, I was in London catching a flight to L.A. everyone just happened to be in L.A. at that time, so we all converged, have another meeting in the Star Wars Millennium Falcon, so to speak.
Q: When you were choosing the music did you get scenes in pieces? What was the process like?
Jeymes Samuel: They would arrange screenings for Jay-Z and I and we would watch the movie up to where it was and then we’d be discussing music and collaborating on more music. And, you know, I think some parts was in pieces and other parts, the whole thing. And basically everything you can imagine, it was!
Q: Can you speak about Beyonce and Andre 3000 and the decision to do a “Back to Black” cover?
Jeymes Samuel: WICKED! WICKED! Well, Amy Winehouse was a really close friend of mine, so that collaboration in itself was amazing. I actually mixed it not far from here, in Platinum Sound, in Jerry Wonda’s studio. And that was one of those collaborations that you almost don’t think would happen. And when it does happen, I remember we were going back and forth like, “Wow. André nailed it, and Beyoncé.” And what I like about the “Back to Black” is Beyoncé goes into her sultry goddess kind of mode, but it was amazing. It’s amazing to listen to, but it was just was equally as amazing to watch come together.
Q: Some people may think Jay-Z is an unorthodox choice for the soundtrack of a 1920’s period film.
Jeymes Samuel: In the ‘20s when F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “The Great Gatsby,” jazz was a backdrop. But jazz was hip hop of today. If Nas and Jay-Z and Rakim and Big Daddy Kane and Waka Flocka was out then, they would have a trumpet and a piano, and Waka Flock would probably be Cab Calloway. Right? And what “The Great Gatsby” shows is that it’s not about the music, it’s about the people and the meaning behind it and the culture that created that music. Nothing has changed. Like, when you see “The Great Gatsby,” you see that absolutely nothing has changed. Musically, sonically, it’s exactly the same. You know, and we go from, like, the trad jazz to trad Jigga!
Q: What do you admire about Jay-Z?
Everything really. Jay-Z’s everything it says on the tin and more. Like, his brain is unlike any others in the music business or in entertainment—you know, like how informed he is on all cultures musically and visually. He’s just an amazing individual and really open to collaboration. He’s amazing.
“The Great Gatsby” hits theaters on Friday, May 10 and the soundtrack will be out on May 7.