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In Conversation:Jungle Welcomes Nostaglia to Every Show

by Anna Carlson

Imagine it's the 1970s.

You and your friends are headed out, ready to immerse themselves in the now. As you enter the club, your pulse rises as you draw closer to the turntables. When you approach the floor, kaleidoscopic lights bathe you in euphoria, and you thank yourself for buying a ticket to a night of dancing ecstasy. There are no cell phones in sight, and you’re as untouchable as the moment itself, submitting to the flow.

This is exactly the kind of party Jungle invites you to with their sound. The London-based electronic pop band, composed of Joshua Lyold-Watson, guitarist, and Tom McFarland, keyboard instrumentalist, is on a limitless journey of creative freedom. Volcano, perfectly named, is the duo’s latest record, which erupts with refreshing percussion rhythms and new textures. Doing what they do best, Jungle continues to blend disco funk and new-wave noise to hook new and old listeners.

Of course, fans still want to press record to capture Jungle in their best form. One of their most recent performances was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at Balad Beast Music Festival where they brought their unique style to a whole different part of the world. Their set design featured a blaze of warm lights, orange projections, fire flares and their iconic huge stage disco ball. Their vision put the audience in a trance as they engaged with the music under Jungle’s curated soul-fric atmosphere.

Sonically, Jungle lives in the 70s. Hence their biggest viral hit, “Back on 74,” the band explains why they are musically drawn to this period. “It was the last true decade of analogue music,” Josh says, commenting on how the 80s changed the recording process when everything became digitized. “The reverbs changed, the instruments changed, and everyone started to p*ss around on ugly instruments,” he adds.

The pair goes on to joke between themselves that Tom is a big fan of Danish mid-century modern furniture, so they tend to somewhat incorporate a retro aesthetic into their own personal lives. On a more intentional note, Tom identifies nostalgia as the feeling they are always trying to unravel in their music.

“I think nostalgia is an interesting area of the human psyche to tap into. Most people like to reminisce and I think reminiscing is quite a safe space for people. Especially in a world of misinformation, uncertainty and fear, we’ve always tried to create a world we can escape into, and for us, that naturally comes to looking back at a time that we perceive as pure,” Tom shares.

Despite their admiration for the 70s, 80s house influence does trickle into Volcano, solidifying their evolution into dance music. “I think we spent a lot of time DJing the last couple of years; we really leaned into that and enjoyed that,” Tom says, contributing club culture to the infectious, energetic vibe of the album.

“I think we saw the upbeat tracks more reactive live. We’ve done so much touring that we kind of lost the place for slow ballads, which we did a lot of in the second record,” Josh adds. The band is well aware that their music comes alive in the arena and they always want to respond positively to their crowds.

Their whole ethos for making music is establishing human connections. Most of their collaborations on this album came from organic meetings with other artists and going from there. “In the modern music industry, where it’s all done through management and labels, sending tracks out and hoping something good comes back, that’s something that hasn’t really interested us,” Tom explains.

“There’s no label involved. There’s no one who interferes or says it’s not good enough,” Josh explains. “We just get to execute the idea to the end. It has taken us a while to get there, but we’re here.”

Jungle is bringing artistic integrity back to the way they conduct their music business. Their old-school almost rock and roll personas and perspectives on the industry keep them zeroed in on the project. Their focus is that their music is uplifting and allows people to simply have “a good f*cking time.” And in all the chaos within fast-paced music modernity, this is what keeps Jungle current.

Anna Carlson
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