Jungle have been an enigma for the better part of their short career. Best friends since they were 10, Josh and Tom, as they’re simply referred to, kept their identities a secret until recently, as they’ve begun to play live shows. Even so, they’ve opted to do it behind a thick blanket of smoke.
Without a cult of personality to get in the way, the duo have made a name for themselves with their funk-driven tunes and viral-ready videos. Speaking recently to Music Feeds, a surprisingly open Tom explains, “The anonymity meant that it was all about our art rather than anything else.”
And that it has been. Without a face to a name, Jungle have churned out three singles, with the latest, Busy Earnin’, garnering mass acclaim. In July, they will release their self-titled debut album through XL Records, the home of artists like The Horrors, Jack White and SBTRKT. “We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve produced,” Tom says of the album. “It lends itself well to summer, I think.”
While Jungle now tour as a seven-piece, the album was written and predominantly recorded by Tom and Josh. “We wanted to record instruments in different ways. You don’t have to record instruments like an Abbey Road technician says it needs to be done,” says Tom of the approach he and Josh took during recording.
Listen: Jungle – Time
While the pair are very particular about what sounds they want to avoid, their longstanding friendship ensured an “ego-free” recording process. According to Tom, “We have known each other for so long that he knows if I say ‘That guitar riff is shit’, it’s not to get one up on him or prove I’m better, it’s just for the good of the record, and we can both take it.”
And though speaking to Tom, one is struck with the air of someone who is cool, calm, and collected, he says that both he and Josh are still shocked by the level of success that has come to them so quickly. “In a year from now it probably still won’t have sunk in,” he says.
As Jungle have progressed, they’ve become more of a collective than a duo, with Tom promising that if he could, he would tour with “as many people as possible.” On the dynamic between the seven of them he says, “I’ve known the guys in the band for two to three years now. It’s all fun, it’s just a bunch of us playing stuff that we love.”
But Tom admits that it’s not entirely about the music for the Jungle collective, and that despite the importance placed on anonymity, the visual is just as important for the band as the aural. “In a way [it is]. Most of our musical reference points are visual, so the sound comes from something we’ve seen,” he explains.
The visual element has been integral to Jungle’s rapid ascent, with their videos garnering as much popularity as the pair’s songs. Their clip for Platoon, which features six-year-old B-girl Terra, has mustered close to 750,000 views on YouTube.
Watch: Jungle – Platoon
Despite having released music since 2012, Jungle only played their first live show in October of last year. “There were many sleepless nights before the first show,” says Tom. “I have this dream where I get on stage and there is no keyboard for me and the others start playing and I see my keyboard being passed from the front of the audience to the back.”
His fears aside, even Tom admits that the band’s live shows have been going well. “Now that Busy Earnin’ has been out for a while it’s the most amazing thing to look into the crowd and see people dancing and singing back to you. It’s incredible,” he says.
Jungle will soon be travelling through Australia and Japan, but as a five-piece. If Tom could have it any other way, he says he would. “We’re not signed to a major label, so we don’t have the funds to tour with the full-band,” he laments. “If I could give everything I have to make that happen I would, but unfortunately it’s not enough at the moment.”
In the coming months, Jungle are set to play almost 40 shows, including sets at Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and Splendour in the Grass, and Tom says he’s looking forward to heading Down Under for the first time: “I’ve heard that Splendour is crazy. It sounds like a cool festival.”
Jungle’s self-titled record is out in Australia on 11th July, just in time for Splendour. Speaking just days off from finally receiving a physical copy of the album, Tom says, “It’s going to be the most amazing feeling to hold the vinyl in my hand for the first time.”
Watch: Jungle – Busy Earnin’
Jungle’s self-titled debut album is out Friday, 11th July. The band will be appearing as part of the sold-out Splendour In The Grass 2014 – details here.
They will also be performing at two special Splendour sideshows, presented by Music Feeds – details below.
Jungle Splendour In The Grass 2014 Sideshows
Presented by Music Feeds
Tuesday, 29th July 2014
The Corner, Melbourne
Tickets: Via Secret Sounds
Wednesday, 30th July 2014
Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Tickets: Via Secret Sounds