Mystery shrouds the anonymous duo Jungle. Did we meet them when we took this photo? The unassuming chap named George who turns up for the shoot doesn’t seem to fit the bill. It turns out he’s the drummer.
So, who is the beating heart of this operation? “I’m T,” says T. “And I’m J,” says J, down our phone connection. “We write a lot of it,” begins T, “and production-wise we are heavily involved, but when we took it live we wanted to experiment with having great musicians on board. It’s good to work with people you think are amazing.”
The collective ethos of Jungle spreads further than the music. The creative movement has become notorious for their distinct music videos that go down a veritable shit-storm online. Early single ‘Platoon’ featured six-year-old breakdancer B-Girl Terra in its video (watch it here), and their latest for ‘The Heat’ stars roller-skate duo The High Rollaz.
T and J assure Clash that these three are steadfast members of their multiplying mandem; “B-Girl Terra, she is Jungle. The High Rollaz are good friends of ours. They are Jungle too. They are all part of the visual movement and manifestation of Jungle. We wanted to put our face onto young and hungry people who are talented and see how it all worked out. We’re good at making the music, but I can’t breakdance. So why not watch someone who can?”
The music of Jungle is universally smooth, and inflected with Motown soul. The double tracked vocals – one octave apart – hark back to a ’70s sound, but this is a faster groove than your casual mellow funk. It’s like an electronic mind, paying tribute to the musical textures of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’, or a lost blaxploitation soundtrack remastered by Moodymann.
A real defining characteristic is the band’s organic take on sampling, and T reveals their methods: “We listen to a lot of hip-hop. That sampled feel is elemental. It’s an integral part of what we listen to. We’re quite keen not to go and find other samples, so we find our own things to sample. We find piano lines we’ve once written and sample that.”
J explains further: “You write a song and then cut it up into a new song. It’s a cool process, because everything sounds like a cut. I’d love to do an album, then do another album of cuts.”
There are only four tracks so far, but that’s more than enough to spread the Jungle fever.
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What: Nostalgic neo-soul
Get 3 Songs: ‘The Heat’ (video above), ‘Platoon’, ‘Lucky I Got What I Want’
Fact: T and J may only just be releasing music, but they have been writing together for almost 15 years.
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Words: Joe Zadeh
Photo: Neil Bedford (website)
The new issue of Clash magazine, featuring Jungle and more, is out right now.