The United Kingdom’s modern soul collective Jungle is bringing the ‘70s back to you, but with a contemporary twist to it. The musical nuclei of the band, Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland (who affectionately refer to each other as ‘J’ and ‘T’) have been close pals for the longest time – and the fairy-tale has only just begun now that Jungle’s debut album has been shortlisted for a Mercury less than a year after the band was nominated for BBC’s prestigious Sound of 2014 award. JUICE talks to ‘T’ about Jungle’s origins from Born Blonde, their musical backgrounds and direction, as well as what we can expect from them at Laneway Festival Singapore.
So, what’s the Jungle story?
Well, right back to the beginning then. I met J when I was 10 years old, and we’ve had a lot of experiences as neighbours and in school, playing music together in Born Blonde with a couple of other guys who are in Jungle now as well. So yeah, it’s been a combination of fun and friendship, really.
Was the ‘70s soul-ish vibe that Jungle brought back to the table something that you’ve been interested in prior to the band?
I don’t think it was a set intention for us to make this kind of music – I think we just wanted to see what happens with this kind of thing. It’s something that’s pretty new to the both of us (in terms of creation), and it pushed us to use our ‘music school brain’ – it’s worked out pretty cool.
What did you guys grow up on then?
I think our backgrounds were pretty diverse. I used to listen to a lot of music. It was a very important part of my life, and especially when I got on the bus, I used to just take out my iPod, and yeah.
Did listening to those songs have an impact on your musical backgrounds, in terms of instrumentation?
I don’t know. I was listening to records even when I was a little younger. I picked up the piano and the guitar, and my father was a drummer back in the day, so some of it came from him as well.
The way we understand it, Jungle is a collective, but it’s basically just J and yourself in the studios when it comes to putting the songs down. How does that dynamic work?
Yeah, so J and I basically produce everything. We write everything, and then we put it down. I think this also contributes to the differences between our live show and the album, which I think is a great thing – one is more electronic and the other, which is a lot more versatile and has more live elements to it, which brings more passion to the stage.
What drove you to write the songs the way you did, then?
There wasn’t really any message that we had, we just wanted because to get our songs on the basic level of enjoying the tune, and the top line and the songwriting, and the lyrics, y’know? The sounds that communicate to people. I think if you’d want to find a message, then you can. We never want force our opinion on anyone, that’s just not what we do.
Have you guys started work on a follow-up release now that the debut has pretty received all the acclaim it can get?
No, not yet. We’ve been pretty busy with touring and stuff, but we can’t wait to get back into the studio. We’ve definitely got lots of ideas bouncing around, but for the moment we’re just enjoying what’s going on with people.
A lot of your videos are centred around dancing, which is very much in line with your music, but with a contemporary twist to it. Are you guys involved with the visual aspect of things?
Yeah, definitely! We’re a hundred percent involved in everything we do, including making the videos – we’ve collaborated with our mates to make the videos, and it’s just like when we hang out in the studio to make some tunes, and see what happens.
So, seeing as we’ve never seen your live show before, what can we expect from Jungle live at Laneway?
There’ll definitely be a lot of energy, I think that will help the crowd have a good time and yeah, that’s what matters most – having a good time and dancing.
Final question! Are there any bands from your part of the woods that we ought to check out?
Yeah of course! We’re on tour with this band from the UK called Beaty Heart. We really love what they do, and they’re cool guys.
Jungle will be performing at Laneway Festival Singapore ’15 on Saturday 24 January ’15.