Inside Juicy Black

When a call to start a band goes out on Twitter, it will definitely get answered. Social media has been the primary tool in connecting people, even before the pandemic began last year.

Limited contact has forced the East Bay band, Juicy Black, to communicate strictly through screens and social media. However, January was the first time they were together since they made the single “FWM2“, which has amassed over 1,000 YouTube views, nearly 6 months earlier. All masked up, Lindsey Shreds, Ritty Bo, Cold Water Chris, Jammy and Thomas Jordan assembled, ready to collaborate again. 

“This is the first time we’ve all been in the same room since we made ‘Fuck with Me 2’ honestly,” singer-songwriter Ritty Bo said.

In 2017 Lindsey Shreds, producer and rapper in the band, fixed his fingers to put an open call for a band. Both Ritty and Chris responded in glee, and the rest of their bandmates later formed to be Juicy Black. By the Fall of 2020, they released their debut song that captured the feeling someone might have if they are unsure if their interest has mutual feelings. 

“There was a gap from 2017 to 2019 where we were just a band,” coldwaterchris, the guitarist, said. “We just didn’t have any songs.” 

When it came to creating the song, Lindsey went to the group with the song’s concept of unrequited attraction. When it comes to creating, the process they have is very organic and ever changing, especially when five solo artists come together to be one. 

“We sit in the studio, and we just look at each other until something happens,” Lindsey says. 

Juicy Black on the set of the ‘Actin’ A Fool’ video, Photo taken by Dakota Lim @dakatuh

The making of “FWM2” was just as seamless as the other times they have collaborated together prior. Most of their creativity as a band flows freely. They all describe it as a lot of freestyling. Chris and Tommy will be experimenting with beats. If anything that is said sticks out to them, they note it.

“That’s how all of our music kind of comes about,” Ritty said. “We don’t really start with a topic or have an idea of what we want to do.”

For less than a week, Tommy already had the beat made. When everyone heard it, they knew it was the perfect beat for the song. Even with the basic structure of the song being made, everyone worked together to create a finished product.

At the four-second mark, you can hear Ritty’s single strike of the cowbell. Without paying attention, you could miss it. Moments like that come from the spontaneity in their process.  

“I had cooked up a draft of the beat, and we added the sauce to it,” Tommy said. “Chris added so much more; even Jam and Linds added more stuff to the beat too. It was just meant to be.”

“FWM2” was the first song they created that made it to the release stage. By the time the song reached listeners’ ears, they were just “thirsty to drop music,” Ritty said. It felt like everyone was in their house for over a year. They knew people needed to hear what they were making. 

At some point, waiting to put out work can push anyone to not want to release it at all. Besides the band’s thirst, the purpose of releasing “FWM2” as a single was to gauge what would happen; and the song’s responses were surprising.

“It’s been kind of crazy. People really care about it,” Jammy said. “I think we were kind of not all sure that people would care that much about it.”

Each of them, as solo acts, all make different kinds of music and carry their own fan bases. So, releasing music as a unit made them a little bit apprehensive. The band wondered if the people who supported them as solo artists would enjoy the music they made as Juicy Black.

Juicy Black on the set of the ‘Actin’ A Fool’ video, Photo by Dakota Lim @dakatuh

“As a solo artist, you tend to be married to your ideas,” Ritty said. “As a band, it’s us as a whole, so we have to keep an open mind.”

What they all contribute is an individually unique experience that becomes whole. On “FWM2” there are so many surprises. First you hear Lindsey rapping about being smitten with a person that barely knows that he exists. Ritty’s smooth voice comes in next and adds a layer that is unexpected to the song, and at the end, they all harmonize singing “slide on me.”

As a solo artist, dropping music, you have so much anxiety, going into rolling something out by yourself,” Ritty said. “As a group, we can hype each other up. We’re there for each other. It’s just fun, like an after-school activity.”  

Each band member has their own relationships with music, to the point where they all have collaborated as solo artists before becoming one. No matter where they got their start, the overarching theme is their love for the art of music.

Chris’ love for music started in middle school. Lindsey got into music around four years ago in a way to create his own musical landscape. With Jammy, his experience was a bit different. His family has a theater background, but he didn’t start making music until 2013 when he met Tommy, who was already producing beats in high school. When Ritty found her love for music, her sound was different from her sound now, which surprised everyone else in the band.

“I started in middle school, high school,” she said. “I wasn’t making the type of music like I do now. I was trying to be a rapper, and that didn’t really click with me. But ever since then, I felt like I couldn’t stay away from music.”  

The five members coming together to form Juicy Black, truly allowed all of their independent sounds to merge. This is clear while listening to their work. As a team, they place the feelings they have as solo artists away to work towards something bigger. Chris describes being in the band as working on a group project for a class. 

“It’s really like anything you would have to apply working on a project in school,” Chris said. “It’s something that I want to be, and it showed me that I’m not really bad at being in a group. I just didn’t like being in a group at school.”

Individually, they all bring pieces of themselves into the band atmosphere. The band’s sound is a culmination of everyone’s individual musicality and personalities. Being in a band has given them insight to let ideas go, compromise with each other and it lets them break away from their solo work and focus on one goal. 

Juicy Black on the set of the ‘Actin’ A Fool’ video, Photo by Dakota Lim @dakatuh

“A big part of why this band is so fun is because  we’re not pressuring each other,” Ritty said. “We’re not putting really strict deadlines on one another. It’s more like we want a space to express ourselves.”

The choices they make as a band help makes the environment a lot less stressful than what it can feel like making music alone. In the collaborative atmosphere, they all provide a different feeling either with vocals or the instrumentals. Chris says everyone is free to contribute what they want. 

“As a solo artist, you tend to be married to your ideas,” Ritty said. “As a band, it’s us as a whole, so we have to keep an open mind.”

Joining forces with multiple personalities allows for possibilities that might not have presented themselves before. Ritty says that she might not have ever explored the possibilities of making R&B music without the band. At the end of the day, they are all experimenting with what makes them the happiest. 

Their chemistry bounced off of them to the point where it is almost hard to hear what anyone says because their laughter is fascinating. A band formed of people who have previously worked together independently allows for a freer environment. Watching them all interact, it’s clear that the connection is genuine. 

“We don’t have to take shit seriously within our particular group of people,” Ritty said. “We all just want to make music, bottom line.”

Over the past year, they have been in the middle of dealing with missing parts of life that made it possible for them to be artists in the first place. Besides not being able to see each other and collaborate in person, like everyone, they had to learn how to adapt to the feelings of missing out, being alone, and learning how to use time more wisely. 

Physically, the time away from each other has let everyone explore their personal interests and how to get better at them. Jammy has been working, watching, and thinking about what kind of videos he wanted to create. Chris spent a lot of his time going back and analyzing cartoons from his childhood. Ritty was able to focus more on her crafty hobbies and learning how to 3D model. Lindsey and Tommy have been spending their time between music and video games. 

“I’ve just been working on music videos,” Jammy said. “Learning how to direct videos and getting help with visual production because I’ve been at home watching so many videos. I’ve just been hella deep into it lately.”

2020 was the type of year that left people feeling a sense of inactivity in the air. Venues shut down, jobs were lost, people were stuck in their homes feeling stagnant with nothing to turn to. Thomas says that 2021 will probably be the most active year for everyone. 

Juicy Black on the set of the ‘Actin’ A Fool’ video, Photo by Dakota Lim @dakatuh

The one thing that everyone agreed on missing the most was live music. Ritty even lost her job doing production tech and setting up for live shows at the start of lock down. Despite not being able to perform or attend live shows, Thomas created Doozyfest as a way for artists to still perform their songs while being safe. The pandemic year has taught everyone in any creative industry how to turn their lemons into lemonade. 

“I know everyone is working on new music right now,” Thomas said in a December interview. “I feel like a virtual festival was the best way to adapt to the whole pandemic and keep the music alive.” 

Everyone has been making the pandemic work for them, whether collaborating over a zoom call, getting tested frequently, or putting things on a temporary halt. In the band, there are no real expectations. They just want to have fun and enjoy being a group, for the love of it. 

“A big part of why this band is so fun is because  we’re not pressuring each other,” Ritty said. “We’re not putting really strict deadlines on one another. It’s more like we want a space to express ourselves.”

While they connect the dots with their music, they are enjoying their time together as one. While they prepare for the release for the video of their new song “Actin’ a Fool”, the year ahead has them wanting to be more intentional with the music they plan to drop. 

“FWM2” was the first song to be released. As they prepare to release their new video and progress as a band, only more music is expected to come. Expect nothing but hits. 

“I think it’s probably going to be the most active year for everybody, in a long time,” Thomas said.

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