It started with two kids in a bleak part of West London who met out of necessity; next door neighbours who would soon discover old instruments and a beaten up PC and bond over a shared curiosity. Flash forward, beyond the DIY guitar music which aspired to mimic the the in vogue sounds of Kings of Leon and The Strokes. A burning desire to create unique pop music develops and a modern day obsession is born. After conquering the the stages of SXSW, they captured the attention of listeners across the globe and sold out a debut American tour before they had released a record or even shown their faces. Thankfully for us, Jungle are about to release their dynamic debut album into the big wide world and have announced grand plans for their Splendour In The Grass Performance and associated sideshows. We were given the chance to spend 20 minutes with Josh from the band and immediately relinquished control to our good friends Moktar and Daniel from Sydney outfit Polographia. What ensued was an insightful and interesting chat which delved into the creative process of an album which will undoubtedly shape 2014’s musical landscape..
POLOGRAPHIA: Hey Josh, thanks for taking the time to hang out! We’ve never really interviewed another artist before, but after I OH YOU asked us to get onboard we jumped at the chance. We really admire everything you’ve done!
JUNGLE: So you guys are producers as well?
P: Yeah, we produce under the name Polographia.
J: Oh (laughs). That makes a bit more sense now. I thought that was your personal name or something. Trippy.
P: That would have been weird.
J: So, this isn’t going to really be like an interview then is it? It’s just going to be like a chat? (laughs)
P: Yeah it’s an artist on artist type situation.
J: Yeah but you’re just going to come out with nothing most likely, you know what I mean?
Like “What did you chat about?”
“Yeah nothing, we just spoke about samplers and plugins and guitars and shit” (laughs)
P: Yeah well we want to ask you about the technical side of things too! We just watched a bunch of videos of you guys playing live on YouTube and so we finally know what you look like. We also just heard a sneak peak of the new album. We were super blown away with it all.
J: Oh that’s really cool. It’s funny you say that because it seems to be a commonly occurring theme in these interviews (laughs). I would have preferred it if you’d said you hated it. I’ve never had that.
P: Yeah, well it was alright. Pretty bad. Seriously though – we instantly connected with how organic the sound was. That was the main thing which hit us both like woah! Do you record everything live?
J: I’m glad you took that away from your experience. Everything on the record is recorded live. Nothing is programmed, we just resample it. We tend to have a really weird process and you may not be able to hear it but this album is really informed by our heroes, mainly J Dilla. Most producers listen to their idols like that and try to replicate it, but you can’t really try to make it sound sampled without stealing other people’s riffs or sounds. Our process was writing the entire song first and then cutting it up to go on and write new songs over a bare instrumental. We ended up with a lot of different versions.
P: We feel like we’re beginning to try to stay away from that, to be honest. That’s really something we want to aspire to complications which that can draw into your release.
J: Nothing is sampled for us. It’s just a fucking nightmare later on down the line. If you sample something and you base your whole track around this sound or your sample and then you want to release it commercially and you can’t clear the sample – you’re in trouble. You might have the best track in the world, and if it’s all hinged on a jazz sample and you want to pull it out and sell it or whatever and they just don’t clear the sample, your track is done. It’s almost like, why do we have a right to take other people’s stuff? I do see that in a way on the flip side of that coin too. If you sample well, you can make amazing stuff and there’s no doubting that. Jamie XX does that quite a lot, he samples shitloads and his label always asks him if he’s sure whether that’s a good idea because he won’t make any money and he’s totally down with that because it’s just the way he does things.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4UckOGdZtI[/youtube]
P: I guess he’s happy making his money from touring.
J: Yeah but I think that’s amazing because that’s his craft and it’s unconventional but it works.
P: That’s a killer summary. So, let’s talk about your upcoming tour surrounding Splendour in The Grass! Will this be your first time in Australia?
J: I’ve been over to Australia, but only on a stopover. We’re genuinely so excited to get over there and bring the show out, my impression is that everyone is very chilled out there and that it sounds like a nice pace.
P: Splendour in The Grass is very chilled, without a doubt. We have a lot of love for that festival.
J: We’ve heard great things and it’s nice to be invited out on a debut tour for shows like that.
P: Let’s talk about your early musical career. Was Jungle the first project you were a part of?
J: Oh yeah, we’ve been in shitloads of bands that haven’t done anything. As you two probably know, that’s a part of growing up. It’s an excuse to meet up with your best mate and make beats and have fun. When we were growing up we wanted to be many different things. We picked up guitars and wanted to sound like Kings of Leon or The Strokes and then we realised it wasn’t working. We began to find interest in producing something more intricate and much bigger. One of the processes we learned on this record is that you can’t judge a track until it’s finished. It’s adding those steps to make it sound big and sometimes it’s a proper mix or a proper master. You can get down about it halfway through, but that’s because it doesn’t fucking have enough kick or snare or something like that. It’s easy to get bummed out but I think the more you work on something, the more hours you put detail into it and changing the grooves, that’s the key. It’s so easy to just quantise everything and be done with it, but you quickly lose the natural feel. You look at J Dilla and his stuff sounds like it’s been placed in by hand. It feels a very specific way..
P: It’s like natural errors which train your ears. You know that a person is playing it because it doesn’t sound perfect.
J: That’s exactly right. It sounds out of time, but fuck it. It’s taking time to make sure that what you’re making is authentic and honest.
P: It’s really interesting to hear you say that. It’s an interesting array of sonic and visual impressions throughout the album and video clips. Have you spent a lot of time in America previously?
J: Yeah, we’re going tomorrow to L.A, funnily enough.
P: In terms of the film clips, it seems like America has had quite an impact on the general aesthetic and feel.
J: I think that’s just popular culture that has an influence on you over time. It probably looks very American to you but for people from France it looks very traditionally British. It’s an amalgamation of everything that you grew up listening to, watching and playing.
P: All of your videos end in this really cool room. Is that a conscious choice?
J: The rooms have been a theme for us the whole way through, yeah it’s really cool you mention it. It’s an honest thing because we build them and they’re put together with a number of components from our lives. It’s all built up from the things we own and they then went onto become the record sleeves, that’s why everyone is like “oh what the fuck do you look like?!”. We’re the producers, man. It doesn’t matter.
P: I like that idea. Your music and videos are an art form which doesn’t publicly place pressure on who you are. There’s no sense of arrogance, it’s about art.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcsfftwLUf0[/youtube]
J: That’s where you have to start from. You grow up in school and you’re forced to be part of a group or a movement and after that you realise that you can be your own person. We wanted to remove the ego from the process. At the end of the day, nobody should really give a shit about what you look like. Some people get it and others fixate on it. People are like “why haven’t you uploaded any selfies…” (laughs)
P: Do you engage with your audience on social media?
J: We have Facebook but with Twitter…how to put this delicately. I don’t really care. It’s too big of a beast. If you don’t have anything to say then why say it? It sounds forced.
P: It’s such a broadcast out to the world. It’s so heavy. We stay away from Twitter.
J: Exactly. We didn’t want to have that. I guess our press photos for us, we didn’t want it to just be of us. That felt lame. If you end up trying to push your music toward people they’re always going to have a biased response. The most beautiful thing was our friend recently asking us if we “had heard of this band called Jungle because they’re fucking amazing”. That’s a natural response because they don’t now you’re involved. That’s been the coolest experience of them all.
P: I think it was just over a year ago when we found you on Soundcloud. You just had ‘Drops’ and ‘Platoon’ online, exactly this time last year.
J: Yeah we released it in May.It’s about building and waiting for an organic response. You guys understand the industry and it’s about doing what you’re happy with and keeping it at a base level.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JkDzNOgO3U&feature=kp[/youtube]
P: It’s interesting to hear those sentiments because we feel like you’re at a certain level now which is very established and that seems to go against the grain of how others may act.
J: We’re just normal people. It’s so funny because people have made us out to be like, these crazy fucking monsters (laughs).
P: When did you make the step from working day jobs to doing this full time?
J: It’s a brand new experience for us because we were given money to do this from our label and so now we’re touring.
P: How did you recruit the members of your band?
J: We recruited friends and the like to be a part of it. It’s a family kind of vibe. The people who are coming along to the performances in July will definitely feel a part of the show, we couldn’t be happier with how it’s playing out.
P: Thanks for the chat, J! Looking forward to catching you when you’re down.
J: Great to chat to you guys! Let’s catch a beer when we finally make it down to Australia.
Jungle’s self titled debut record is available via XL Recordings / Remote Control on July 11th. They’ll also play at a SOLD OUT Splendour in The Grass along with Oxford Arts Factory (July 29) and The Corner (July 30) – Tickets are on sale now.