Getting Reoriented to Jungle
With festival season in full swing, the UK electro-funk group prepare for the release of their second, more personal LP.
FROM: London, England
HEAR: For Ever
SEE: Austin City Limits, Life Is Beautiful, Treasure Island
When Jungle catapulted to indie-funk stardom in 2014, no one was more surprised than the band’s creators. Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland were just two sound-obsessive twentysomethings recording music in their Shepherd’s Bush bedrooms before signing to XL Recordings, making the Mercury Prize shortlist, and selling out tours for two years straight. They just loved making music that wasn’t quite funk, wasn’t quite hip-hop, wasn’t quite electronica, yet found the sweet spot in all the genres that inspired them. Apparently millions of other people love that sound, too.
For some bands, immediate success can be a blessing and a curse. Where is there to go when your debut album gets praised more than you could have ever imagined? The external pressures of making a follow-up can be overwhelming—but not to this English duo.
“We put pressure on ourselves to make a better record this time,” Tom explains. “That’s the only pressure you can really listen to—the pressure from yourself to become a better creator, better songwriter, better producer.”
While creating their forthcoming sophomore album, For Ever, Josh and Tom reached deep within themselves to make music that spoke more about their personal experiences. As a result, Tom assures fans that they will get to know them better this time around.
“When we made the first record we hadn’t traveled very much, so it was our view of the world from our little bubble,” he confesses. “With the confidence we’ve gained from touring, we wanted to tell the story of our lives a bit more, so I think this album is much more three-dimensional in its emotion.”
The duo has also evolved sonically, incorporating strings into the new record to give it a full, cinematic sound. And though the live band is already comprised of seven members, the hope is to tour with a string section in the future. For now, they have a new singer, Nat Zangi, whom Josh and Tom can’t wait to introduce to American audiences as they tour the festival circuit this summer, making stops at Austin City Limits and Life Is Beautiful.
Anyone who’s seen a Jungle show knows what to expect: dancing, and lots of it. However, Tom admits that he and Josh have not always been the most confident of performers. That’s all changing this year. “For us, the most fulfilling thing recently is understanding that the people who come to your concerts and the people who want to talk to you about your music are there to support you,” Tom says, “so to open yourself up to them is way more fulfilling than shying away from that.”
That mindset has resulted in a more positive energy onstage and a stronger connection with fans than the band has ever felt before. “I really hope people are going to continue to connect with the new songs, and hopefully we’ll have some more singles out over the summer as well,” Tom says. But there are two things he can guarantee to anyone who sees them on the road this year: “More dancing, more singing.” FL
This article appears in the 2018 FLOOD Festival Guide, presented by SiriusXM and Toyota. You can check out the rest of the magazine here.