Six-year-old B-Girl Terra stares down the barrel of a camera, hands in the pockets of her matching magenta tracksuit, with an expression that screams “bring it”. As Jungle’s Platoon begins – a slow, melodic beat – she doesn’t hesitate. She pops, locks and glides until two minutes in it seems inevitable she’ll be spinning on her pink-beanied head like a break-dancing pro. Guests on the Jungle’s videos – which regularly go viral – such as B-Girl and High Rollaz (a London-based rollerblading team) are the people and community that Jungle (a duo made up of “J” and “T”) would prefer to spotlight. Neither of them feature in any of Jungle’s infamous videos. The group (now a seven-piece band) will tour Australia in July for Splendour in the Grass and side shows in Sydney and Melbourne.
Jungle is notorious for… not being known. Enigma, J (we’re not allowed to know his full name, but he goes by Josh or J. T is for Tom), took some time from his base in London to tell us about Jungle’s journey so far, its meteoric rise from its members’ homes in London to SXSW and Lollapalooza.
J is committed to keeping the music organic and honest. Every track on the soulful, techno album is one that has made J and T, “laugh, cry or dance around our room.” J says he leaves, “that Josh person” at the door in order to make the creative process “pure”. It’s clear the youthful and unassuming energy that remains in J and T’s music, brought them together originally. They met when they were 10 years old. Self-taught they had their first exposure to home-studio recording armed with a dial-up internet connection and a music production program found inside a cereal box.
Despite fame and having broken into the international scene, Jungle fans have no idea what J and T look like. When asked whether this was an important publicity move, self-professed “Google nerd” J is quick to set the record straight. “We didn’t think of it as important at all. It just happened like that. We live in a generation where everything is so accessible. [What we look like] is irrelevant. Look at SoundCloud, there are so many producers who don’t [release] any information about themselves. The rhythm is ours and if you look carefully enough you might see us there. It’s not about ego.”
Jungle’s new album features hits The Heat, Drops (with a surprise “door-creak solo” for keen listeners) and Busy Earnin'. Critics are burning through the dictionary trying to categorise the sound. Attempts include: “ethereal electronic grooves”, “bittersweet soul-felt melodies”, “kaleidoscopic”, “tribal funk” and “truly British”.
“That’s iTunes’ job,” says J, refusing to box the new album and dismissing the idea of description. “I don’t believe in genres. I just believe in good music. If it’s got a good beat, and it makes you feel good and you connect with it, then it’s good music. It’s just about melody and rhythm and emotion and honesty.”
Jungle will play Splendour in the Grass on July 25–27, The Corner Hotel in Melbourne on July 29 and at Oxford Art Factory in Sydney on July 30