Dublin-based alternative pop trio Just Wondering have stormed into 2021 with the release of two singles in ‘F*ck That’ and ‘Bicycle’ each better than the last, and have now released their debut full-length project in the 'Float Over' EP.
The project, presented in one continuous record, is an ode to friendship, and the importance of friendship for people looking to carve their way in the world in their twenties. “We love our mates and they mean the world to us,” Adam Redmond, the producer in the group, explains of the project’s key themes “Friendship is love and it’s worth writing a body of work about; it’s important enough to celebrate”.
Just Wondering has existed in two phases. The band was originally a duo, comprised of Wale Akande and Jack O’Shaughnessy, two friends who had known each other since the age of eight but had waited until college to begin experimenting with music. In this form, they released two singles in ‘Worth It’ and ‘Cul’, both of which were well received but failed to set the world alight. “We didn’t know what we were doing putting those songs out,” O’Shaughnessy explained, before Wale interjects, adding “what we were making was okay, but what we’ve been making since Adam joined has been on another level”.
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Adam’s introduction to the group came from an unlikely source, when one of O'Shaughnessy's colleagues in a shoe shop recommended the up-and-coming producer. “I was working with a guy at Shoe and he said he was working with a guy we should check out and that was Adam,” he recalls, “we did one session together and it clicked. Then we went for pints after and it all grew from there”.
It was three months before the group returned to the studio together, but by that time Redmond had made it clear he wanted to be involved in the music the band were making. “Adam asked if he could work on the track for free and it really just merged from there, there was no formal invitation, it became a new band and a new thing so naturally” Jack adds, smiling.
What Redmond added, Akande and O’Shaughnessy admit, was a sense of purpose and a plan to help the band grow. The band quickly made the decision to delete their previous material and start it all from scratch. “We had a better idea of how we wanted things to sound when Adam came in, we had three people to bounce ideas off” Wale notes, “there’s a big ecosystem building between each other because we can see a path now”.
In November of 2020, the band returned as a threesome, with the release of the single ‘Drive’. Within six weeks, they were being named as a band to watch from publications at home and abroad. “We had a lot of belief in the music” O'Shaughnessy notes, “we had no intention in trying to make this list or that but it was just all about the music”. “It’s all about creating,” Redmond elaborates. “It’s cool to have people like it, all this press stuff too is super encouraging but we know they aren’t worth anything if we stop making music”.
While 2021 has seen the release of two singles, the focus was always on their debut project. The majority of tracks on the record was recorded prior to lockdown, with minor edits and changes completely over nightly zoom meetings. The interludes between the tracks, however, took some time to pull together. The interludes feature recordings of band practices, recording sessions and times they spent with their friend, with Wale providing the majority of recordings. “There are sound recordings, voice messages and video recordings all came from a time when we weren’t able to see each other,” Redmonds notes, “The lads, especially Wale, would send me everything they had and all the videos they took and we built the songs around them. It very quickly became a homage to our mates and hanging out. It became a way for us to feel connected to that and celebrate that”.
“When we started the band, the idea was that we wanted people to see that you could have music and talk about fun and excitement and having friends and stuff and it doesn’t have to be this unattainable outside experience. It’s not about money or crazy parties or crazy expensive places,” Redmond further adds of the project; “This project is about having fun with your friends on your own terms. We have recordings of our friends having fun on the streets of Dublin, in the studio, wherever”.
“It’s like a time capsule for us,” O’Shaughnessy explains. “You can hear our friends and it really makes you think of your friends in a loving way. It’s a homage to friendship”.
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There is a unique party-like atmosphere to the project, a reminder of the power of friendship and the importance they play in such a formative time in your life. Throughout our conversation, the band are quick to reiterate time and time again that for them, making music is just about having fun. Throwing ideas at each other from across Redmond’s garden, where the majority of the group’s songwriting takes place, helps them stay connected and is far more about having the opportunity to chill out with friends rather than a need to create.
“The project being continual and all seamless emphasises that for us, there’s not really much of a divide between who we are, our friends and what we make,” Redmond admits, “sometimes music can be an escapism to another world and another version of yourself but our music is so much about being upfront and being ourselves”.
“When people hear the album, I want them to be able to feel the buzz that we were having together, the three of us just hanging out,” Wale adds, when asked what listeners should take from the project, “it captures what it’s like when all three of us are all together and what we were thinking about. With this, you can see what we are trying to explain to people, which is just how much buzz we were having with each other”.
Just Wondering have the world at their feet; but you get the sense there’s nowhere else they’d rather be than hanging out with friends and creating whatever music comes to mind. “It’s a vibe,” Wale laughs, “It’s just a group of lads having a bit of fun”.
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'Float Over' is out now.
Words: Cailean Coffey
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