Music Feature: Jasmine Tea
Jasmine Tea is more than a band; it’s the music of friends. “The two are inseparable,” the band opened the interview. Although they’re not rebels, they tend to slow walk it when it comes to following the herd. Their music reflects this, as life’s riddles and rumors banter with the sounds of carefree elegance. Their journey as a band began in New Jersey, but has since traveled the East coast from Martha's Vineyard to Florida.
Emerging from a high-school gaggle of guitar-and-vinyl-album-carrying music lovers, all in need of haircuts and music lessons, Michael Strong and Robert Stritch formed their own acoustic duo. One played a mean guitar, the other fancied he could sing. They soon however discovered that they could write songs -- complex, acoustic in nature, but woven with strands of jazz and swing, unique for the time. It was Bleeker Street, 52nd Street, and Tin Pan Alley all on the same strip. The songs called for more sound.
Many people came and went, but soon they were joined by two female singers to do four part harmony, and Richard DeClemente came in to be their drummer. When the girls left for different reasons they got discouraged and called a halt. Thankfully, that project never got off the ground. Richard joined another band, where, luckily, he met their bass player and missing link, Bob Short, bringing together the four members, the ones that loved it, (with a sound, the sound, we had all been looking for) who make up the band today.
Their mission is to make good songs. Their music touches many genres so they despise classifying themselves. Some of their songs are of the singer-songwriter variety with catchy melodies, while others lean on retro roots rock with bluesy guitar riffs.
They would describe their musical sound as smooth and elegant hybrid of jazz and folk infused with pop, sometimes mixed with rock and swing. They don’t particularly like to categorise their sound. “Some will say we sound a bit too classic and not modern,” noting that there is a certain maturity to their music that will prevent some people from getting it.
Jasmine Tea’s latest offering ‘Just a Little’ has a romantic and a reflective mood to the track, while discussing the loss of a loved one. The indie singer-songwriter genre tune features acoustic and electric guitars, organ, bass guitar, and drums. The overall tone of the song will capture the listener’s attention from the first note. They recorded several versions which were a little slower and more acoustic, but finally settled on this version that uses an organ for the opening catchy riff along with an electric bass. The organ gives the song a romantic feel and wistful vibe.
There’s a lot of introspection in Jasmine Tea’s music, and ‘Just a Little’ reminisces on a past relationship, that was both good and bad. The chorus came together in a dream, and when Michael Strong woke up, he knew that the song was done. The tune paints a picture from the very first line about the loss of a loved one, figuratively and literally. But, the song is also romantic, in parts.
The song examines the past relationship and why it was torn down. So much in life comes back to remembering what you had and the desire for ‘just a little’ more time, leading to thoughts of what ifs, should’ve been, etc. The catchy hook is played by an organ of all instruments. Something about the organ makes it perfect for this song.
Jasmine Tea would like listeners to take away a sense of refinement and wit while listening to their music. “A reconnection with style. Encouragement. Wonder. Something old, something new.” Their music is user friendly up front for casual listening, but the house undertones provide the listener with something to deeply explore. “We want listeners to feel that they haven’t wasted their time.”
Their music catalog, to-date, has found them releasing over 30-songs, thus far. This includes two albums, an EP, and a few one-offs. They have recently decided to release a song every month, “There’s less importance on the albums these days, so we’re content to release singles.” It’s the opposite of what most musicians do, instead of releasing the album first, Jasmine Tea releases the singles and then plans to package it all into an album.
“There are one or two more singles coming in the next two months and then we’ll release the album which will be called ’Rescue Me’. The songs are so diverse that we don’t know which will find an audience so it’s a bit of a shotgun approach as far as the promotion.”
When asked what musical highlight stands-out, thus far, Jasmine Tea responds, “When the first EP, Reunited, was released. The funny thing is that now we hear those songs from three-years-ago and want to re-record them to make them better.” They have plans to re-record some songs. Another highlight would be hearing one of their songs ‘My One Best Friend’ in a movie theatre. “It’s a song about a man’s best friend that was picked for the opening of a Film Festival about dogs.” They sent a one-off recording with a short video and it ended up premiering in New York City this past October.
Closing out the interview, Jasmine Tea mentions that they are working on their new project. “Funny story is that Mike introduced a song to us that I thought sounded slightly familiar. I was going to tell him that he plagiarized the song from somewhere, but I wasn’t sure, so I kept quiet.” Not realising it was a cover he assumed it was another original. “It was his style, so I went with it. It was only after we finished the song that he told me it was a cover. To this day, I have not gone back to hear the original version. It’s the very first cover that we’ve recorded, and it will be one of our upcoming singles.” The track comes out next year, so fans will eagerly wait for this new addition to their music catalog.
The band consists of Bob Stritch, Michael Strong, Rich DeClemente, and Bob Short, currently residing in Fort Myers Florida, Boca Raton Florida, and New Jersey.