The stylish, freewheeling clip, filmed in the South of France by master director/editor Sébastien Antoine and executive produced by Jackie Jackson – eldest member of the legendary Jackson 5 and founder of Gold Lemonade’s label Critically Amused – is the perfect metaphor for the duo’s intense ambition, innovation and relentless work ethic that has catapulted them from humble circumstances to immediate indie pop stardom.
The St. Martin born Jvgg and West France born Lya find themselves on the cutting edge of a powerful sonic revolution driven by a hybrid of his soulful, laid back hip hop, island-tinged vocal flow and the electro-dubstep and EDM heat she creates via what Huffington Post has observed as “her hands skimming across her digital turntable, twisting knobs, downshifting faders and layering tracks with some Gallic flair.”
Since signing with Critically Amused in 2018, Gold Lemonade has amassed over 250,000 streams (including well over 100,000 for “How You Feel,” which dropped in March) and 300,000 views, and their tracks have been added to over 2000 playlists. Their debut single “Cake Up” had an exclusive premiere on Billboard.com, followed by several other tracks (“Paradize,” “Hippie” and “Count on Me”) and the EP Summer Lime that featured “Many Times,” whose video has racked up over 65,000 views on YouTube.
The buzz the duo generated around their incredibly prolific 2018 lays the perfect foundation for
the release of their multi-dimensional, no holds barred new mixtape, a 16-track masterwork whose title School of Hard Drops is a clever double entendre referencing their self-motivated rise from humble, hardscrabble roots and the project’s prevalence of Lya’s crafty, often unexpected “beat drops,” a stylized EDM concept that NPR once called “the moment in a dance track when tension is released and the beat kicks in…releasing the enormous energy accrued during a song’s progression… after the momentum build, the pitch rising, the tension mounting, bigger, louder, until suddenly – the drop.” At a time when some performers treat cover art as an afterthought, the compelling photo on the cover of the mixtape tells us all we need to know about the Gold Lemonade dynamic.
Lya says, “It’s me playing teacher and Jvgg chillin’ at his desk while I’m determined to teach him how to do an electronic drop. The project features touches of funk and jazz, but the main stylistic hybrid is EDM and hip-hop. Calling it a mixtape is our way of saying that we’re mixing up the styles. He gets his lyrical and rap flow going and the music builds and then the drop happens, which is when everyone listening turns it up and gets lit. So it’s the proverbial school of hard knocks which we know well, mixed with those trademark electronic drops.”
Remarkably, the duo – who met at a studio in Paris when both were working with on their solo projects – created between 50 and 60 tracks before choosing the 16 they could both agree were stellar and representative of who they are as artists and individuals moving forward from 2019. “We wanted everything to reflect the idea that we’re on the same page and riding the same wave,” Jvgg says. Though the tracks find Jvgg weaving engaging individual narratives, the concept of drops/hard knocks underlies an overriding theme of working their collective tails off to achieve success – and basking lavishly in the rewards.
Reflective of that, both have spent years paying their individual dues. Discovering his passion for hip-hop early on, Jvgg divided his time between his home of St. Martin and other islands in the West Indies. Influenced by reggae, soca and party music of those tropical locales, he left school at 16 to pursue music and joined the band West Indian Devilz. He later released a solo single, “Pirate,” that was in rotation on many web stations across the world. These endeavors eventually led to multi-platinum partnerships and shows in France, where he met Lya. Inheriting a passion for music that was sparked by her influential DJ father (DJ Lipfi), Lya – whose influences include Portishead, Radiohead, rock and hip-hop – has traveled the world showcasing her spinning mastery and uniquely refined dubstep/EDM style. As a female producer in the DJ/hip-hop world, she was making waves and changing perspectives even before joining forces with Jvgg. She’s world renowned for her striking persona, high octane sets and funky, blended scores.
Lya was discovered by Jackie Jackson in Las Vegas. She and her friend were taking a smoke break in the courtyard of a bakery cafe, where she caught the attention of Jackson and his wife. After finding out that Lya was a DJ/producer from France and listening to her music as well as some samples she sent with Jvgg’s vocals, Jackson decided that they would be an incredible team to sign to his Critically Amused label. The duo officially moved to Vegas earlier in 2019 and performed their first U.S. show in Norfolk, VA, with several more scheduled in the coming months.
“We like to say that if you listen to the whole project and aren’t motivated to get up and go after your dreams, you may just have a problem,” Jvgg laughs. “For us, these tracks represent our current mood and this special moment of our lives, working hard to get this far and going forward full-throttle to make great things happen. Most of the tunes find us motivating not only ourselves but others who have talent and dreams and must go after them.”
Echoing her partner, Lya adds, “Jvgg and I may not come from the same place on the planet, but we each have a similar essential story, growing up lower middle class. We learned music on our own, me from my dad and him coming up on the islands and playing in bands. Our achievements both as individuals, and everything we do now as Gold Lemonade, stem from a great deal of hard work and sacrifice, and there were times we both struggled to eat and maintain roofs over our heads. But with motivation and positivity, we’ve gotten this far where the sky is the limit – and we want everyone to know, with the School of Hard Drops, that they can do it, too!”