It means nothing and everything. Listening to Damien Jurado, you’re immediately struck by how a single note, a muttered word can take on spiritual, near mythic importance. Yet if you touch the surface, all is scattered and any lingering meaning – true meaning – quickly fades from view.
A subtle, quite fragrantly beautiful record, Jurado’s new album ‘Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son’ (review) has been lingering on the Clash stereo since its release earlier this year. Poised to unwrap its secrets, the songwriter immediately places us on the back foot.
“I don’t necessarily think I’m reaching for anything,” he says. “I think it’s just a story, a story I’m telling. That’s really about it.”
– – –
Damien Jurado, ‘Silver Timothy’
– – –
Yet it’s a story wrapped in allusion and illusion. Brilliantly produced in collaboration with Richard Swift, in terms of sheer, sprinkling sound you won’t hear much better this year.
“I think we’re both really into sound exploration, just exploring sound and that’s kind of what we’re doing. I mean, believe it or not, I think that’s more important than anything I’m singing about. Even if I did a country record or a reggae record, it doesn’t matter – the sound is the most important thing. Sound is something that nobody really gives a shit about any more.”
Looking to antecedents, Jurado burrows into the past recruiting like minds from fields he wouldn’t otherwise admire. “I’m not a giant fan of bands like Led Zeppelin, for instance. I don’t like that band, but I really do love the production of those albums. The drums are just so huge, y’know? There’s just lots of great sounding records from bands that I don’t particularly care for the songs of.”
Yet this isn’t to say that Jurado’s work is simply noise and electricity, absent from meaning. His new album is laden with religious and spiritual imagery, from the Christ-like eternal son down to the fictional lost city of Maraqopa – the mysterious place that inspired his preceding LP of 2012.
“I don’t even know what it means,” he sighs. “That’s the crazy thing. I don’t even know. But it’s cool, y’know? There’s lots of reccurring themes, not only in the new record. You can find some of those themes in my earlier records, even. I do have recurring themes, but they’re always evolving.”
Like gears currently revolving, the machinery of Damien’s songcraft is delicate but expertly pieced together. But the meaning – however vague, however undefined – is always presented as being linked to the sound that surrounds it.
“You can’t discard songwriting,” he states. “I’m not saying it’s not important – because it is – I’m just saying… there’s definitely a story there. There’s a real underlying, hardcore story, but… It’s almost like two different meals, like the story’s one thing and the sound is the other. They both support each other.”
– – –
My influences on language come from visual things. Just by watching endless hours of The Twilight Zone, or Godzilla movies…
– – –
Rooted in specific American landscapes, ‘Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son’ is a hugely colourful album – for instance, five song titles reference the colour silver.
“I’m not a reader, I never have been,” Jurado admits. “I don’t read books. I mean, I think those influences on language all come from visual sources. My influences on language come from visual things. Just by watching endless hours of The Twilight Zone, or Godzilla movies. Believe it or not, that imagery is important to me. So it’s not words that affect my language, it’s vision.”
Curiously, Jurado comes close to discounting his own lyrics entirely. “There’s an interesting quote from Lou Reed I read the other day, where he says, ‘Why waste your time with lyrics when no one’s going to listen to you anyway?’ No one pays attention anyways, so you might as well make it sound good.“
In the middle of a hugely productive spell – the songwriter admits that his new album could well have joined its predecessor as a double LP – Damien is relishing operating without any semblance of a plan.
“I’m really curious to see what will happen next,” he smiles. “There’s no plan. I don’t plan anything, really. Even though I make the music, I don’t make plans. Musically, I’m just as interested as the fans are as to how the next record will sound because I don’t know. It’s always a surprise.”
“I think it’s just continually being inspired,” he continues. “That’s really about it. Nothing else. If I’m not working I sort of feel unproductive and lazy, so work is very important. Work is important to me – I like work. If I don’t work, I don’t eat!”
– – –
Words: Robin Murray
Photography: Steve Gullick
Brad Pitt, he’s alright, right? World War Z wasn’t much to write home about, but c’mon: the man’s been in some good things. Doesn’t deserve your shit, mister…
– – –
Brad Pitt was attacked by ‘celebrity prankster’ Vitalii Sediuk at the Los Angeles premiere of Maleficent.
I wouldn’t punch Brad Pitt. He’s bigger than me. Tom Cruise is more my size, but he might repeatedly call me a “jerk” just as he did when the crew from Balls Of Steel squirted him with water at the War Of The Worlds premiere. And that would really hurt my feelings. Mostly, though, I wouldn’t do it for fear of publically revealing myself to be a complete prick.
Admittedly, neither case resulted in any real harm done. You could argue that a high-profile event of this nature will inevitably draw unsavoury attention from coattail riders and oddballs. I recall witnessing a scuffle between two fans at the London Film Festival in Leicester Square: their bizarre beef being a debate over who had the right to park their deckchair in the most opportune place to potentially catch sight of Sienna Miller later that evening.
Being a mature type, I found the whole darned shooting match absolutely hilarious, until one of them told me the tragic story of how he came to spend his weekdays hoping to spot a celeb.
But should a film star be considered fair game for such shenanigans given their demands for fame and, in some cases, their apparent pomposity? I’d argue not. They’re still human and, just like anyone, receiving an unpleasant surprise isn’t a desirable part of any day. Of course, some appear to be so maniacally egotistical that punctuating their psyche sounds appealing.
But hold your schadenfreude, for every actor is potentially just a step away from comedy self-sabotage: be it an embarrassing talk show appearance, a truly terrible film or an unwise tweet. And that long game, inevitably, will be much more amusing than the efforts of Sediuk.
– – –
Ken Loach’s previous film, The Spirit Of ’45, is a rousing piece of filmmaking. Documenting the pivotal post-war period in Britain, it’s a film that everyone should see. Watching it makes you want to actively do something to safeguard the National Health Service. Jimmy’s Hall also documents a specific period in history, but its ability to galvanise its audience is far weaker.
A drama based on the true story of social activist James Gralton’s struggle to establish and run a community hall in 1930s Ireland in the face of opposition from the Church and authorities, Loach’s film could have told a charming, touching, human story. But underdeveloped, two-dimensional characters and personal politics that overshadow any heart make it a detached overview instead of a penetrating, stirring insight. There is a distinct lack of real people with whom to identify despite attempts to create them.
A champion of the working classes, Loach has made a film that plays less naturalistically than some of his back catalogue – to its detriment. The period setting and scale of the project is arguably its undoing. However, cultivating resonance with the current social and political climate, Jimmy’s Hall does encourage us to question the way things are. Words: Kim Francis
Jimmy’s Hall, trailer
– – –
Who? A 19-year-old actor from Austin who’s about to make a huge impression.
What’s he been in? His handful of credits so far have been in tiny roles or obscure films, but he’s been kinda busy…
What’s coming up? He’s been busy because he spent 12 years working on his debut role in Richard Linklater’s upcoming Boyhood. Could there possibly be a tougher way to land a breakthrough movie role than featuring in almost every scene of an almost three-hour epic? Coltrane starts the film as a child fascinated by every tiny thing and ends as an independently spirited late teen.
They say: “My goal was for it to be a fun, expressive part of his life that would be something to look forward to. And Ellar never wavered, there was never a year where he said, ‘Nah, I don’t want to do it.’” Richard Linklater
He says: [On watching himself grow up on screen] “It’s indescribable. It’s so surreal and very painful a lot of times. It was really emotional the first few times I watched it. It’s like nothing else.” Austin Monthly
– – –
The Edinburgh International Film Festival announced its full schedule this week. London underworld crime drama Hyena opens proceedings, while We’ll Never Have Paris – co-directed by and starring The Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg – closes the festival. Rammed between those bookends are potential highlights including Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as well as new films from Michel Gondry and Noel Clarke, plus national focuses on movies from America, Germany and Iran.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past (review) took a whopping £9 million at last weekend’s UK box office. Demand wasn’t quite so high for Postman Pat due to increased stamp prices and more competition in the world of postal services, so he trundled in at #4. Blended’s Adam Sandler / Drew Barrymore dream team would’ve been huge in 1999. As it is, it’s 2014 so it entered at #5. Fading Gigolo debuted at #11.
Finally, a Bananaman teaser poster hit the internet. Questions such as “Who these days wants or needs a Bananaman film?“ have so far yielded no real answers.
– – –
Words: Ben Hopkins, except where indicated
Aku Raski is just some beat maker.
The producer operates on a rather more cerebral plane, with his Huoratron moniker used to express some profound ideas. Debut album 'Cryptocracy' was highly praised, yet the influences which ran through it were evident.
For his latest EP, the producer intends to release something whole, something distinct. "As always, my work is informed by my perception of salient events in world politics and the global economy" he explains, "but also by the growth and increasing unity of mind apparent in the music of Huoratron. It's becoming better and the seams on the Frankenstein are disappearing."
Out on July 7th via Last Gang Records, 'Acid Reign' is packed with perplexing, groundbreaking electronics. Clash is able to premiere new cut 'DDoS (Pilo Remix)' and it's a decent indication of where the producer's head is at.
Remixed by Pilo, those brutal electronics are teased out into something dancefloor ready, with a clear love of bass left to nod towards the UK.
Check it out now.
Chris Manak, better known as Peanut Butter Wolf, needs to be in two places at once.
He’s in Leeds to attend a showing of the new Stones Throw film, Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, after which he will conduct a Q&A session. This should then be followed by a VJ set, at the nearby HiFi Club. The problem is that the timing of the events conflict. After making arrangements to push back the DJ set and intro the film instead, we head across the road from the club to a BBQ joint so he can grab something to eat before his hectic night begins.
The film documents the journey of Wolf’s LA-based independent record label, Stones Throw, which is known for its leftfield approach and has released records by the likes of Madlib, J Dilla, MF DOOM, Aloe Blacc, Mayer Hawthorne, Dam-Funk, Gary Wilson and James Pants. Initially conceived as a one-hour special for French TV that was later abandoned, the project was picked up by Los Angeles director Jeff Broadway, who planned to put together a feature-length film.
“I told him about the French footage, put them in touch with each other, and then they figured it out from there,” explains Wolf of the final project. “So probably like 30% of the footage is stuff that the French guys shot, and then there was a lot of archival footage and a lot of stuff that the guys in LA shot, and then the guys in LA edited it.”
Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton cleverly conveys the complex history of the label, its diverse range of projects and its ethos, in a way that appeals to audiences of both die-hard fans and newcomers alike.
“I wanted it to be a film where people who had never heard of Stones Throw could be like, ‘Wow, this seems interesting’,” says Wolf as he picks at his food. “There’s a movie called The Devil And Daniel Johnston, and I’d never heard of Daniel Johnston at the time, but I saw the movie and was really touched by it and went and bought a lot of his records. That’s how I envisioned this film to be.”
– – –
Madlib and Peanut Butter Wolf
– – –
Despite a number of notable co-signs appearing in the movie, including Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, A-Trak, ?uestlove of The Roots, Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt of Odd Future and Mike D of the Beastie Boys, he hopes it won’t just be these well-known artists attracting people to the film.
“I’m thankful that they’re in there, but I almost feel like I wish there’d been less of that in it. Especially when they’re just talking about the importance of what I do or whatever. I don’t want someone watching a movie to see it and go, ‘Oh, this must be important because this person said so’.”
Split into chapters, the film depicts the various stages that the label has gone through since it was founded in 1996, and delicately deals with the passing of two of the label’s staple artists: firstly Wolf’s childhood friend, Charizma, and later legendary producer/rapper J Dilla.
“I get emotional watching it,” says Wolf, visibly saddened even by the thought. “Of course [when] watching the Charizma and Dilla stuff, but really everything. There’s a lot of footage that got uncovered that I didn’t really remember or even know existed. Just remembering those times is an emotional thing.”
He is particularly absent from the chapter on Charizma. “With that section of the film I helped the director and editor a lot, like putting them in touch with people who I thought should be interviewed and steered it a little bit. Of course it was hard, but I think that I wasn’t in it that much because I wanted everybody else that was involved with him to talk about it, like Kermitt, our hypeman at the time, and Charizma’s mom, I wanted her to be in there, and his girlfriend at the time.”
When we reach the cinema, Wolf is clearly awkward with the idea of introducing the film. He initially wants to just stand on the floor rather than the stage, but after a couple of complaints from the balcony is forced to take to the stage. “Does anyone have any questions on the film you haven’t watched yet?” he says before a broad Yorkshire accent pipes up asking if he’d like to smoke weed with them.
– – –
Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, trailer
– – –
“It’s just awkward because I’m on tour doing Q&As for the film and promotion of it,” says Wolf, of his naturally humble and understated character. “It’s weird for me to even sit in a theatre at the end of the film. They’re saying all that stuff about me and Stones Throw and how great everything is. And then I go up there and do a Q&A like, ‘Hey, look at me, everybody clap for me!’”
Not looking to sugar-coat things, a chapter entitled The Wild West documents the post-Dilla period of Stones Throw, in which the label had lost interest in releasing hip-hop music and began experimenting with other genres, some of which didn’t necessarily pay off. The responses of hip-hop aficionado DJs House Shoes and J. Rocc are particularly interesting in this chapter, as both clearly had some distaste for where things were going.
“That was cool,” Wolf responds when quizzed about these responses. “I wanted more stuff like that. J. Rocc, out of all of my friends, he’s the one who busts my balls the most. He’s the one that’s always teasing me and giving me a hard time, and that’s the stuff I want to be shown in the film, you know?”
And it’s Wolf’s balanced stance on the portrayal of the label that makes the film such a good watch. Far from conveying some super-human icon that is unrelatable, Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton is an inspiration. It shows how armed with focus, motivation and a huge amount of passion, Wolf and Stones Throw have made their mark on the world. Sure it’s been a bumpy ride, but when watching back the story as a whole it’s clear that what Wolf has achieved is nothing short of amazing.
– – –
Words: Grant Brydon
Clash has three copies of Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton on Blu-ray to give away, which come bundled with the documentary’s soundtrack. To be in with a chance of getting one, simply fill out the form below. We’ll contact winners on June 13th, 2014. Good luck!
Hailing from that esteemed corner of humanity known as Athens, Georgia, Tunabunny are now onto their fourth album.
Mull that over for a second. In this time of music industry crisis, a band as bizarre, surreal, colourful and wonderfully different as Tunabunny have mustered up the pennies to record not one but FOUR studio albums – and they haven't starved in the process.
Truly, this is a joyous time to be alive. New full length 'Kingdom Technology' hit record shelves back in April, and predictably it was a tumbling torrent of musical ideas which gleefully thumbed their nose at convention.
For once, here was a DIY group who realised that DIY didn't mean sounding as if being on SST was still a big deal. Stripped from said LP, 'Power Breaks' is both wilfully dissonant and utterly sweet.
The percussive tick sitting underneath is almost Industrial sounding, a funky tick composed of rusting machinery. Amidst clanging guitars the hypnotic vocals seem to sarcastically pick apart the hedonist ideal – but manage to somehow party harder than ever before through sheer cold clarity.
The video for 'Power Breaks' features two girls having a tea party, before things take a turn for the surreal.
Watch it now.
Launching last year, VISIONS Festival occupied several venues across East London.
Returning bigger than ever for a 2014 instalment, organisers are set to draw on performances from the likes of Eagulls, Baths, Perfect Pussy, party hardy Andrew WK, Eleanor Friedberger and more.
Taking place on August 2nd, the multi-venue bill will be accompanied by a record fair, a comic book convention, a food market and more.
Tickets are on sale now, with organisers recently speaking to Deptford Goth about his performance at VISIONS.
Here's what he had to say…
Are you looking forward to playing festivals this summer, and what can we expect from your performance at VISIONS this year?
Yes I'm looking forward to doing some shows again, Visions will be my first one since November last year. I'll be playing some new songs, I've been writing and recording in the time off from live stuff.
What do you feel are the benefits of the more intimate, indoor festivals, like VISIONS, compared to that of the bigger outdoor festivals?
I think they can defintely be better for certain kinds of music. Maybe intimate dark indoor spaces suit my music more than a field on a sunny day.
Visions is an independent, affordable and creative community-based event. How do you feel about playing events like this as opposed to bigger, and often mainstream-orientated festival?
I think it's great playing a variety of events, it keeps things interesting. Big festivals can be fun too, but it's great to be involved in an independent and forward-thinking festival.
How is playing in London and the UK different to playing elsewhere for you?
Everywhere is different, within the UK as well as abroad, I don't think shows can necessarily be defined by location.
How do you approach playing festivals when there are so many artists on a bill, and at times audiences may be witnessing you for the first time?
I don't think I can really change much, if someone wants to stay and watch they will. I might do a bit of light comedy if I'm losing them.
What is the thought process behind constructing a set for your perfect festival setlist?
Set length in minutes, divided by 3.5 = approx number of songs.
Who will you be checking out at VISIONS Festival 2014?
Tickets for VISIONS Festival 2014 are on sale now.
Related: Ones To Watch: Deptford Goth
– – –
The suburbs are often a lonely place.
Close enough to the city to gain just a hint of its glories, it remains tantalisingly out of the cultural orbit. It's this push and pull which makes the suburbs such a musically fertile area, whether that's the Bromley contingent during the punk era or even Croydon's dubstep collectives.
Jacob & Goliath hail from Brentford. Nestled away in a corner of West London, the trio have a thirst, a desire to succeed which flows through every note.
Debut EP 'Eyes Conveyed' will be released on June 15th via Manchester's LAB Records, following sessions with Paul Stanborough in his East London studio The Biscuit Factory.
At only 18 years old, Jacob & Goliath are almost too young to know any better. Title cut 'Eyes Conveyed' is all soaring riffs, sweeping vocals and an intangible sense of melodrama.
The video for the track is shot simply, with the trio performing in their garden. In a way, it's appropriate – think how many teenage discussions, childhood dreams were forged here.
Watch it now.
Catch Jacob & Goliath at the London Islington on July 2nd.
Rinse are enjoying no small degree of success in 2014.
The label recently chalked up a shock number one, with relatively unknown producer Route94 waltzing all the way to the top spot.
Now Zinc could follow suit. 'Show Me' is impeccable house built just right for the summer season, with the fluoro synths matched to soulful vocals and an instantly contagious bass line.
House as only London can craft, 'Show Me' will be released on July 20th. The video for the track was shot on location in Tokyo, and features a dance routine working on their steps as the song erupts around them.
Directed by Price James, there's more than a little nod towards the roots of the vogueing scene.
Watch it now.
– – –
'Show Me' will be released on July 20th.
December 10th, 2013. Just yards away from the final destination of the 488 bus and Homerton University Hospital’s distant glow stands Chats Palace. Inside, a small group of onlookers await the arrival of a group they can’t even put a face to.
See, up until this point, anonymity has anchored the existence of Jungle – the soul-swamped outfit responsible for donating tracks like ‘Platoon’ and ‘The Heat’ to the ears of the Internet faithful.
Shrouded by superfluous amounts of smoke, due to a broken machine, the band’s debut appearance kicks into motion. Seven members sway and shimmy in the mist. At this point, the fog is so thick that the keyboardist is hunched right over, so as to find the correct chords. The lead vocals, an oddly synthesised melange of bluesy tones and Marvin Gaye’s ghost, tear through tracks that can only result in dance. See, regardless of their identities, these brothers (and sisters) know how to groove.
A gazillion blog posts, two further tracks made public and a year later, Jungle’s founding members, Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, are sitting comfortably at XL Recordings, their chosen label home. Gone are the days when this funk-flecked ensemble were enigmatically masked behind the faces of others. Today, it’s almost laughable to these musicians that their incognito beginnings continues to characterise them.
– – –
– – –
Let’s come straight off the bat and talk about anonymity. During the embryonic stages of Jungle, your identities weren’t revealed. How would you describe what those early moments meant to you?
J: I don’t think anonymous is the right term for what actually happened. We’re just as shocked about the whole thing as everyone else is. We put the [‘Platoon’] video out and then the photo just because we’d put so much work into those things. Our manager said that we needed a photo, so we decided to go with the one from the room with B-Girl [Terra, the then six-year-old breakdancer in the ‘Platoon’ video]. That room was made up of things we own and we just put it out, not thinking if we don’t put ourselves out, what that could actually link together and mean. At the time we were just in the studio, and we don’t really read much about ourselves.
It’s only now, looking back on it, you begin to think about it. It’s the same with the High Rollaz [the roller skating dance duo featured in the video for ‘The Heat’], where they’re very much a representation of the music. We’re producers, bedroom producers, and before that [Chats Palace] gig, for example, our manager spoke to us and said there had to be a way to do this live. Then suddenly, going from our room and having fun, you’re at the front of something that you’re not necessarily ready to be at the front of. I suppose maybe we just had our heads buried in the sand a bit when just putting out all this art. I don’t think the anonymity was something that was forced.
T: There are photos of us playing live on Facebook and everyone has a camera phone so there’s no way we can control that. We’re just concerned with creating really interesting things to look at to make people think, ‘Why have they done that?’
J: Jungle is also so hard to search on Google, so if you type that in, of course you’re not going to get a picture of us.
T: I just think it’s good name.
It’s got a ring to it.
J: Yeah, and I think a combination of those two things end up becoming something else and something that people have written up and made a thing about. I think when you don’t know about something, I suppose you want to know, too.
T: It’s been really interesting to see people’s reactions to it, and have people asking why we’ve done these things. The reason why I’m T and he’s J is because that’s what we call each other. If people dug deep enough, then it’s all there. We want to make who we are unimportant.
J: It just comes back to that thing of putting the videos, music and all the things that you put so much hard effort into at the forefront. Those are the things that will be judged.
T: I think that allows what you do to be judged on its own merit. No one has had to sift through a couple of profile pictures to find what you’ve spent days and days building.
– – –
B-Girl Terra went on Ellen DeGeneres and she got asked what she wants to be when she grows up. She said a mermaid. A mermaid!
– – –
They have a point. In our current info-infatuated world, sometimes the music itself can get lost behind a wall of trivial riffraff. Insignificant particulars like previous bands and Twitter followers can cloud the main goal. The ethos, until very recently, has mirrored that of a similarly camera-shy collective and to good effect.
“It’s a lot like Gorillaz, where the art is at the forefront of it and, just like us, Damon sits behind the scenes,” equates Josh. “Sam – who manages this and probably does as much as we do in that respect – said we should put some music out but, whatever you do, don’t beg people. He just played it to two people and that was it. We just sat back and waited.”
Casually dropping ‘Platoon’ into the blogosphere whirlpool would prove to be the best formula. After all, stats don’t lie, and 3.8million Vimeo views are more than enough to nullify any piped-up naysayer.
But before Snapchat replaced knocking on people’s doors as a means of communication, how did this pair even meet? Simultaneously, the pair breaks into laughter: “Well, I was in my neighbour’s garden playing football and me and my brother had a Game Boy on us,” laughs Tom. Pokémon Red? “Blue. I had the soundtrack on tape.” Joining in the reminiscing, Josh adds: “I remember that Mew was the rarest card, so I made it on Photoshop, printed it out and tried to swap it.”
Oh, the frivolity of youth. In a way, B-Girl Terra’s unrestrained body pops mimic the way that Jungle go about forging their drums. “It’s that same youthful element of just picking stuff up, trying this, trying that. Throwing keys on a table and recording it with a snare,” explains Josh. “That naivety is what we constantly seek to live within. B-Girl Terra is oblivious to what’s happening because she’s six years old. She went on Ellen DeGeneres and she got asked what she wants to be when she grows up. She said a mermaid. A mermaid!”
– – –
– – –
Moving on slightly, at what point did Jungle expand into the collective?
T: It was when we realised that we wanted to play live because we didn’t have enough arms. I think we were conscious of what was going on at the moment with how producers are playing in a live environment. We wanted to challenge ourselves, I think. We have the most fun when we’re on stage because there’s so much energy playing with five of your mates around you, enjoying that same moment.
Aside from the potential practicalities of carrying around instruments, it’s odd that more producers aren’t doing more than just standing behind their computers.
J: It’s true, because we do make sacrifices for that. We sacrifice the amount of money we could potentially make, because it costs a shitload to get a band on the road. We try to be as much a part of the audience as possible, to enjoy it. We look at the live show as part of that feeling.
Talking about feelings, it’s not such a ridiculous suggestion that some hearing Jungle for the first time might be reminded of Jamiroquai, no offence intended…
T: I love Jamiroquai. I was watching the ‘Virtual Insanity’ video recently. I really did. What about ‘King For A Day’? I got into that track because it was the first funk that I listened to, I guess. My brother liked the [Red Hot] Chili Peppers and the grunge stuff from Seattle that I never really got into. He then got really into Parliament and P-Funk, George Clinton, and I must have heard Jamiroquai from that. I must have been listening to Virgin in the late-’90s and that album with ‘Deeper Underground’ [‘Synkronized’] was on it.
J: There’s an urban myth that Jay Kay’s house is the castle in the middle of Elephant & Castle roundabout and he’s got a spiral car park underneath where he keeps his Ferraris.
Wouldn’t put that past him.
J: But it’s interesting you say that, because people say different things all the time.
T: That’s probably a testament to the way our influences come into our music. There are so many.
J: I think we wanted to make a hip-hop album, in a weird way. You just take little tiny bits from things. I might hear a Madvillain tune and the way they’ve sampled something and be subtly inspired, or even ‘Happy’ and the way Pharrell made that.
Well, you’re right: music is this massive collage of influences, isn’t it?
J: Yeah. Our influences aren’t all necessarily from music either. It’s very much about a space and time. ‘The Heat’ is very much about a place that doesn’t necessarily have to be real. Some people go super honest with their music, whereas ours is where we want to be: being somewhere else in this space. A lot of it is very cinematic. If you think about Grand Theft Auto, you have to remember the guy that made that was from Scotland.
T: Out in Dumfries, or something (laughs).
J: A lot of the [influences] are these imaginary places that are taken from real influences but are actually like a dream. You make your own little place in your head that the song will be set in. That’s the guise and underneath all that, that’s where the emotions come through in what you’re saying.
– – –
Jungle, ‘The Heat’
– – –
In order to feed that chimerical illusion, the group spent months in the studio not too far from the offices we now occupy. The backbone behind their creative process has been a constant fixation with borrowing and sampling their own stuff. They tell Clash how they’ve bred as much stimulation from their own four-bar draft sessions on Logic as they have from the likes of John Frusciante and Prince’s magic on the fretboard.
– – –
I think we realised that our best songs were just simple drumbeats, then you can allow all the percussion to be the groove element…
– – –
So, how much of the album was the product of personal experience?
T: What’s quite fun about writing lyrics is that with music you can hide meaning inside a bigger picture. I think all the lyrics are personal because they’ve come from us, but the meaning sometimes changes. There are definitely experiences in the last couple of years that have changed the songs. Whether that comes out in the general tone of the song is harder to distinguish.
The track ‘Julia’ certainly springs to mind.
J: That’s the song that we struggled with the most because we wrote it early on and it’s been called a million things and meant a million things. It’s a weird one because it’s almost the track I like least because we’ve battled so much with it emotionally.
T: On one level it’s about meeting this girl for the first time but also…
J: This girl is perfect but you will never meet her.
T: That loneliness.
J: The lyrics, “I don’t know a thing about you”. Ultimately it’s about how both having someone and not having someone can be the loneliest thing in the world.
How did the journey from single to album take form?
T: We’re always making music, whether it’s a remix or making cuts from our own stuff for rappers. It’s a non-stop process. We knew that someone would eventually draw a line in the sand and see what we liked and didn’t like. It seemed quite seamless though.
The whole record is this beautiful meet-and-greet between funk, electronic tendencies and world music.
T: It’s not really something we thought about too much. We love the more modern sound of Radiohead: that glitchy cross-rhythm. But trying not to do it with electronic sounds.
J: Funnily enough, a lot of the rhythms have tended to be quite 4/4, which is something I was initially quite anti to. I think we realised that our best songs were just simple drumbeats, because if you’ve got these complicated drum patterns, you’ve already taken up so much space in the track. If we had a simple drum, like on ‘Busy Earnin’’ or ‘Platoon’, then you can allow all the percussion to be the groove element.
– – –
Jungle, 'Busy Earnin''
– – –
Dance-cajoling vibes engulf every breathing second of the album in one way or another, whether it’s the lamenting yet toe-tapping inclinations of ‘Drops’ or the way ‘Crumbler’ can tempt exuberant body-jerking out of any listener with a limb. So why so much jive? “We wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t fun. Whenever it becomes something that isn’t fun anymore you know it’s time to stop doing what you’re doing.” Let’s hope that part of Jungle’s DNA never disappears.
– – –
Words: Errol Anderson
Photographer: Johnny Dufort
Fashion: Lola Chattertton (full fashion credits in issue 95)
This interview is taken from issue 95 of Clash magazine, full details here.
Jungle online. The band's debut album, 'Jungle', is released on July 14th.
A deeply immersive experience, the humble video game has always made use of music.
Just look at the Grand Theft Auto series – each instalment brings with it a raft of exclusives, with huge names attempting to get involved.
Now a new project aims to spin classic computer game soundtracks in an orchestral fashion. The Philharmonia Orchestra will perform at this year's Orchestival, bringing their SCORE project to the UK.
The renowned musicians re-work material from Super Mario, The Legend Of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Skyrim and more. Joris de Man, the Dutch soundtrack composer of 'Killzone', will be giving a talk on the importance of music in computer games.
"There’s no doubt that games music is now a big part of the classical stage" he said. "ClassicFM is regularly playing soundtracks from the gaming arena, and at last Orchestival is bringing the sounds of the console to Britain’s festival scene. What’s really exciting is that game-music concert audiences are not just gamers and geeks. Many have been captivated by games and want to hear the music outside of the gaming experience, others have never played a game in their life but love the music being created."
Full score programme:
The Legend Of Zelda
Call Of Duty
Beyond: Two Souls
Sonic The Hedgehog
Orchestival takes place at Bath and West Showground between July 19th – 20th.