Northern Transmissions talks with Tom, one half of the creative force behind the UK band Jungle. The band’s self-titled debut for XL Recordings is out Today on XL Recordings.
Northern Transmissions: Jungle’s musical sounds and influences are pretty scattered, from late 70s Manchester to surf to New York Electrofunk, just to mention a few. Was putting the album together a bit of a challenge with so many different sounds down?
Tom: Believe it or not, I think what we try to focus on when writing, is not what really influences musically, but more what inspires us visually. I mean, we really do enjoy creating different sounds and new effects. But our songs are inspired by the things that have happened to us personally, certain life experiences and different events.
NT: Are you surprised at the amount of success the band has had playing live? The band has toured all over the world to sold-out venues, without an album release.
Tom: We are one hundred percent shocked and humbled on a nightly basis. From the start, we really wanted to make human connections. I think that society has lost quite a bit of that. With modern technology and social media, people have become a bit more isolated. So it’s been a great experience for us, from writing in the bedroom to playing Glastonbury. We don’t take anything for granted, and it means the world to us, doing what we are doing. We are heading to Australia to play a bunch of shows, it’s a real mind-fuck, some have sold out already.
NT: Much of the band’s success came from videos you guys made before releasing any recordings. Did you have more of an interest in film before starting Jungle?
Tom: We have always had a strong interest in visuals. Josh and I have many friends that work in film. Everything we have done, except for our latest one “Time”, we really had no time, because we were quite busy touring. The other videos were all hands on deck. We are really lucky to have talented friends, who we love to work with. The videos are really us, they reflect our spirit.
NT: You and Josh have been making music for many years together. What type of musical background do you come from?
Tom: Music has always been a huge part of my life. My mom was an art teacher and my dad always loved music. I think Josh might have started a bit later. It’s all comes from a collage of what we love. We liked different bands earlier on like the Strokes and Kings of Leon, they were doing something really different at the time, we gravitated towards it. Then our tastes broadened. We have a love and passion for so much music. We recently saw Philip Glass at the Barbican, then Outkast a little while after. We feel it’s really important to embrace different genres. It can be quite toxic creatively to be influenced by only one genre.
NT: You have a fascination with the technical side of music. You once said that you studied the albums Pet Sounds and What’s Going On for quite a long time. How much did you learn from these records, and how important is it to the music you make?
Tom: Yes, these albums both have a strong vision. They were created from passion, they weren’t made to create hits. There were many mistakes when these albums were recorded, but they still sounded so beautiful. Back in those days, music wasn’t reversible. You didn’t have the luxury of pressing a button or hitting a key and just starting over. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye came from such a place of consciousness. The way the album opens up with the party noise in the background and him singing over it. That really speaks to a generation. That record meant the world to me when I was sixteen.
NT: You guys talk about your love of growing up in Shepherd’s Bush. How did it affect you? What is special about the place?
Tom: I think what’s amazing about the place, is that it opens your mind to everything. All races, religions, cultures. There really is a sense of pride in the area, more than other newer or hipper parts that don’t seem as honest. Growing up there was integral to our personalities. All those cultures exposed us to so much great music, from everywhere. It really opened our eyes and our ears to new music.
NT: Which five albums are still inspiring you?
J Dilla – Donuts
Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
Moby – Play
The Beatles – Rubber Soul
Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On