Default: Django Django

"We just let it spew out and evolve on its own..."
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Egyptian electro pop. Indie dancehall.

The real wonder of the internet isn’t the genres it’s spawned but the genres it hasn’t – why, with the wonder at their fingertips, do so many bands make such damned polite noises? Yet listening to Django Django, you begin to hear the germ of something distinct, something different. Out shortly, the band’s self-titled debut album is a bizarre mixture of styles held together by the force of their songcraft and the sheer wit with which it is delivered.

“It’s a bit like creating a monster because we never ever sat down or had a meeting or even talked about what we were doing” explains drummer / producer David MacLean. “So we just let it spew out and evolve on its own. I think that was fun because we never had to worry about who we were or what we fitted into.”

The band have their roots in Edinburgh, before the various members of Django Django found themselves (and each other) in London. However for David MacLean the music stems from even further back – a teenage hip hop fan, the producer’s first love was sitting behind the turntables, something which allows MacLean able to bring a different sensibility to Django Django. “I was coming at it from a sensibility of trying to make Dancehall rhythms or trying to make minimal Chicago and Detroit music - which is a million miles away from Django Django. But the sensibilities kind of overlapped and because I’m so into 50s, 60s R&B and psych I just thought ‘well just chuck it all in and see what happens’... I just treated every song in its own way” he says. “If it sounded straight up rock ‘n’ roll that was fair enough and if it sounded more modern and dancey that was fine. I tried not to put a stamp on it, I tried to let the songs dictate. Production wise, definitely I think I’d have more in common with the way Public Enemy produce, or the way that house guys produce than a rock engineer.”

The sheer depth of influences seeping into ‘Django Django’ can be bewildering, intimidating even. ‘Electric Mud’ replayed by Marshall Jefferson for a Jamaican soundclash, the album blasts its way through genre lines but stays remarkably faithful to the three minute pop song. At times reminiscent of stunning Scots psychedelic crew The Beta Band, Djang Django sit neatly in the British art school tradition. Still active with various galleries in the capital and beyond, David MacLean admits that his background in visual arts certainly has a bearing on his music.

“It’s always going to sound a bit pretentious but when you’re making music the way I do it’s a bit like doing a painting or making a collage. I kind of think of it as the same process” he muses. “I’m sure it’s the same part of my brain takes over and works whether I’m making a collage or making a song. I work in a very visual way as well where I’ve got the monitors and I’m looking at the sound, I can change the colour of the files for the drums and so on. It is, in a way, not a million miles from making art and making paintings and I think that’s what I love about the two things so much is that they sort of share a process that I enjoy. People talk about seeing colours in music which again might sound pretentious but I think a lot of people have that thing where they almost have a colour palette for a song. It might all be blues and purples or the next song might all be earthy colours. It certainly all filters in whether you’re aware of it or not.”

Django Django - Default



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Taking charge of the album’s cover art – kind of ancient Egyptian sci-fi, if you know what I mean – the producer explains that the output of the band extends beyond the music. “It’s a group process. I think if I was doing stuff on my own it would be nothing like this and it’s the same with any of the others – if they’d done stuff on their own it would probably be nothing like this. I think that’s kind the joy of a band, you have four brains. You have four people bringing something to the party so you’re always on your toes because things are happening which you would never have thought of” he says. “It’s the Django package, I guess, which we’re coming up with. We do try to keep the art, the videos and everything in line with that. It’s not that we’ve got a house style we just like to be involved because we’re just into all that stuff. We’re not really a band who would just let the label pick the video or the cover. We try and get stuck in.”

Currently preparing to complete a short burst of continental shows, Django Django are already looking ahead to a Spring tour which takes in multiple UK venues. For such a studio based project, it seems the change will be exhilarating. “It’s a whole other kettle of fish, going out and playing live to recording. You have to put your tour hat on a bit and get into the idea of being away from home, staying in hotels and being in the van the whole time. It can be fun or it can be a pain in the arse depending on what mood you’re in but it’s just great to be doing it, to be honest - to be in the position where we can do it and people want to hear us. I guess that we’re in the sort of honeymoon period of being in a band where everything is still exciting.”

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Django Django will release their debut album on January 30th.

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