It all started with longtime friends Josh and Tom, or J and T as they prefer to be called, and expanded into a 7-piece collective. Bound by friendship, authenticity, and a sense of musical integrity, what makes them stand out above all else is the importance placed on them being a collective, as opposed to a group of individuals, which is why critics have found them such an enigma. Instead of ramming the usual social media circus - glossy press photos and individual profiles of each band member/celeb in the making - down the public’s throat, Jungle put out their music on Soundcloud and quietly signed to XL Recordings. Even the music videos for songs like Platoon, which features six year old B-Girl Terra, breakdancing in a purple tracksuit, or The Heat, which this time has two guys in green tracksuits, breakdancing on roller blades, gave no clues as to who Jungle actually was, let alone just how many were in the group. Shot by honorary Jungle member and i-D fave Oliver Hadlee Pearch, the videos are colourful, eclectic and astoundingly cool, just like Jungle’s music, which despite being described simply as electronic on iTunes, is actually much harder to pin down. Referencing anything from hip hop to soul, it’s the kind of music you imagine walking down the street to on a sunny day, without realising you’re smiling or about two seconds away from breaking into a dance. Currently away on tour to promote their eponymous album, which they released in July, we caught up with the group that’s been creating the soundtrack to this year’s summer.
Why the name?
A name is name at the end of the day. It just seemed like the right thing, we wanted a name that was simple yet had multiple meanings and connotations. It’s interesting that a word can mean so much to one person yet something completely different to another depending on their personal experience.
When did you decide to go from just hanging out and playing to putting music out publicly?
When you put something on the internet for other people to hear you are essentially putting it out publicly. The only private place is in your own head. We just put it online and let things take their own course. We never tried to force anything. We always believe in letting other people decide whether it’s good or bad, and letting them form their own opinions.
How would you describe your music?
It’s the culmination of all the musical experiences we've had so far in our lives. It’s also hard to pin point because of this. Creating a sound is often about trusting your taste, and going with what sounds good. There’s no math to it, it’s just about trust and belief.
What are your musical influences?
We tend to be influenced by good sounds and good songs. We listen to all types and genres of music. Musical influences tend to be relative to periods in someone’s life. At the time of making the record we were really inspired by the sampled sounds of hip-hop records, the cut up nature of the way samples were twisted felt very modern. We decided to try and make a record that had a sampled feel without using any samples from other records, as that part felt a little dishonest.
At the very beginning you kept things fairly anonymous, was this intentional?
We just put up a track on Soundcloud, we were very conscious not to push our music onto people. You can’t control what people think or write about you, and by not having social media at an early stage it can appear to be anonymous or mysterious. This is simply because in the modern age most bands and producers seem to have a social media profile before they have any music.
You seem like the type of band that wants the music and visuals to speak for themselves, how do you feel about the whole celebrity/pop star culture?
For us the music and visuals are paramount, without them there would be nothing. That is the creativity and the expression. Celebrity and pop star culture is a media thing, it's about placing people on pedestals and dramatising their activities, making them seem more important than their art, but without their art they are nothing.
How did working with Oliver come about?
Life long friends as well, we grew up together. He is much a part of Jungle as anyone.
Where did you find the amazing break-dancing kid in Platoon?
Through a friend of ours. We originally had the idea for a body popping boy and he suggested we check out B-Girl Terra, we spoke to her and she sent us a video of herself doing a head spin on her living room floor.
Where are you guys now and what are you doing?
We are in Japan, driving up to Fuji Rock. We’ve never been this far east.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be?
There are so many amazing collaborations, anyone from Basquiat to Charles Darwin to Quincy Jones.