In a city where heaps of incredible music has been written and produced, Royal Jelly Jive is a testament that San Francisco remains fertile ground where artists take inspiration from the very streets they walk. Fronted by lead singer Lauren Bjelde and keyboardist/accordionist Jesse Lemme Adams, Royal Jelly Jive pen dynamic silhouettes of everyday neighborhood characters, falling in love in nooks of the City, and ultimately standing up for who you are and what you believe in. Appropriately titled Stand Up (Release Date: June 24, 2016), the band's sophomore full-length studio album was produced by GRAMMY® Award-nominated Andre Zweers and Judy Kirschner (Santana, Joe Satriani) and recorded at the fabled Prairie Sun Recording Studios (Sonoma County, CA).
Royal Jelly Jive celebrates the release of Stand Up with a headlining performance at The Independent (San Francisco, CA) on Friday, June 24, 2016. The band will also perform at several music festivals this summer, including BottleRock Napa Valley (Napa, CA), Joshua Tree Music Festival (Joshua Tree, CA), Waterfront Blues Festival (Portland, OR), Whole Earth Festival (Davis, CA), Lost Sierra Hoedown (Graeagle, CA), Do It Ourselves Fest (Boulder Creek, CA), and venerable clubs across the country. Interviews and hi-res photos are available upon request.
Royal Jelly Jive is the ultimate mashup of 1930s/'40s swing horns, deep rhythm and bass driven hip-hop, and powerhouse female vocals ready to knock you off your feet. Stand Up features 11 original compositions along with two covers written by lauded Bay Area artists Tom Waits ("Green Grass") and Primus ("Tommy The Cat").
A master diver and anthropologist by training, singer Lauren Bjelde might only be 5 feet 3 inches tall, but she packs a solid punch with her sultry and spitfire vocals. Lauren moved to San Francisco from a small agricultural town in the California Central Valley where her artistic creativity was rarely understood. That resistance only served to fuel her desire to bust out on her own terms. And "Bad," the album's opening track (and its unmistakable anthem) is a take-no-prisoners salute to the badass defiance sometimes needed to shatter obstacles in your way. A true chanteuse on stage, Lauren came to sing in San Francisco almost on a lark in 2010. Six years later at the age of 26, she now has a stake as one of the City's singular vocalists.
After years living in San Francisco's Lower Haight neighborhood, Lauren and the band's musical director Jesse Lemme Adams recently relocated 40 miles north to nearby Petaluma, CA. A former river town, Royal Jelly Jive's love for San Francisco's cityscape interweaves with storylines of the rustic backroads of Petaluma on Stand Up. The couple's reverence for fellow Sonoma County resident Tom Waits extends beyond the two covers on the album ("Green Grass" and "Tommy The Cat") to the original composition, "Dear Mr. Waits."
"Tom is one of these eccentric people that lives nearby and who has always done things his way," says Lauren. "You never know what musical alley he might wander down, and in the song (and our minds) we have fictionalized his character to be larger than life. Tom recorded for a decade at Prairie Sun. Some of his best albums like Mule Variations were recorded at the studio. So, when we had the chance to record there and use the iconic 'Waits Room,' we jumped at the opportunity and wanted to offer a nod to his legacy."
Stand Up portrays a bounty of narratives, including songs about the fleeting heart ("Elixir"); recovery from near-career ending injuries ("When I'm With You"); partying with friends ("Railroad Tracks"); dispelling everyday anxieties ("Ride The Wave"); how compelling pieces of music can transform oneself ("Story" featuring singer-songwriter Marty O'Reilly); and a dramatic, cinematic lullaby for a sleeping six-month old nephew ("Little One").
The album's most unabashedly delightful tune is the unexpected "Oh, Roger," a bouncy homage to a mysterious gentleman in San Francisco who placed flowers and plants on the street every week for locals to take home. "I went to his corner for years to collect house plants before I actually met Roger outside our stoop in the Lower Haight," says Lauren. "One day, he heard us jamming and walked over for a song. Immediately, Jesse started playing some chords and I chimed in with 'Oh, Roger,' and the lyrics basically wrote themselves."
The album's banger, "Top Hat," was written in a blaze of excitement live on stage on tour. It's all about feeling free, being swept by the music and just dancing. "To be honest, I feel so high during our performances," says Lauren. "Every time we play this particular song it feels so empowering, like nothing can stop us. And our chemistry as a band is crystal clear."
Lauren began writing "Chinatown" for Wild SF Walking Tours as a historical song for their tours. "While I was romanticizing about the neighborhood's rich history and places, I began to notice sparks between Jesse and I. It wasn't until we played an epic party in an underground theatre in Chinatown that I realized I never wanted to leave his side. So 'Chinatown' has dual meanings, the intriguing neighborhood and the love that Jesse and I share."
Barely two years on the road, Royal Jelly Jive has already shared stages with notable acts such as Michael Franti & Spearhead, Rebirth Brass Band, Con Brio, and The California Honeydrops (now opening for Bonnie Raitt). They've sold-out San Francisco venues The Chapel, Great American Music Hall, and Slim's. The sum of six standout musicians truly makes Royal Jelly Jive one of San Francisco's breakout bands of 2016.
One of the most in-demand musicians in the Bay Area, Jesse Lemme Adams recently scored the music for "Hi How Are You Daniel Johnston," which won a "Jury Honorable Mention for Anarchy Short" at Slamdance Film Festival 2016. Clarinetist Robby Elfman, a Los Angeles transplant, has the jazziest of all backgrounds. In addition to Royal Jelly Jive, he's a member of dozens of bands, including Jazz Punks who reached #1 on the CMJ music charts. Drummer Felix Macnee brings some New Orleans funk into the mix, and Luke Zavala studied trombone at San Francisco State University. Acoustic bassist Tyden Binsted has played with various jazz and rock legends, and spent a summer studying with Medeski Martin & Wood.
An inspired confluence of pleasing contradictions, Stand Up is both visceral and intelligent, fresh yet nostalgic. One thing is certainly clear...the latest album from Royal Jelly Jive is sure to evoke many a standing ovation!