British modern soul collective Jungle couldn’t care less if the last day of summer is officially off the calendar. The band’s latest record For Ever radiates eternal sun rays, love vibes and a bit of heartbreak leaking here and there. Having transcended local music stages with the force of their first acclaimed record in 2014, the band went through a four-year period filled with new people, places, and emotions. The result? A record more personal and raw than ever before, possessing that Californian glow, but also a desert’s way of swinging moods and shifting between extremes. Invigorated by the experience that listening to For Ever is, Glamcult phoned Jungle band founder Josh, who talked to us about love, energy and his mum, over a cigarette in the middle of the Nevada desert.
You guys went from ‘producers in a bedroom’ to world-touring performers with an acclaimed record that made everyone’s hips go mad. Lots changed professionally and personally, I suppose, yet the new album, For Ever, feels more personal and raw than ever. Where did such emotional openness come from?
I think the openness came from us starting to write more songs about love and relationships we had with real people. With the first record, things were more conceptual. It was more of a global feeling, projecting an idea of yourself in the third person. The story could have been just as much about us as about somebody else. Yet with the new record, the projection originated from the first person, an ‘I’ that naturally developed into a personal experience and expression within the lyrics and songwriting.
The way For Ever unfolds in terms of song sequence, it feels like there’s a structured narrative you’re presenting.
With an album’s narrative, you listen to your own experiences and your own life. It’s a bit weird how quickly For Ever’s narrative and song sequence made sense to us—it all happened naturally. We were lucky enough to tour the world with our first record and get out of London—that broadened our horizons, it gave us perspective. We met people, fell inlove with them. The main thing about this album was creating a story that is more personal, deeper in what we were trying to say. It begins with the experiences described in the first part of the album, and then the emotional extension of those experiences that unfolds within its second half.
I know you had a love experience in LA, and that feeds into the album as an emotion perhaps, but I wanted to know if the physical space itself influenced the record in any way?
Yes, absolutely. The sun shining on your body produces chemicals that make you feel good—that definitely played into it. When we were back in London, finishing the record, we were still projecting into that Californian space.
Do the places you’re at at a certain moment in time define the sound of the songs produced too?
One hundred percent. It’s like going on holiday—when you’re out of your own safe zone, you feel like you can explore more.
There’s also a recurrent theme of dreams versus fears in this record. What do these two mean to you personally? Do they drive you creatively, or is it something else?
It has to do with the past, the present and the future. Dreams are the future, and fears, though they could be about a future time, are dictated by your past. That often comes with reflection, with looking forwards and backwards. If you take the track House in LA as an example, ‘You be the sunshine and it’s alright now’—these are very present lyrics, it can all be good in this exact moment. But if we look at Casio, ‘When all your dreams are gone’, something’s past. It’s very important to involve the concept of time when you’re telling a story.
Because it has a more emotional and raw essence, is performing this new album live different than the experience with the previous one?
The live environment is a very specific one—it all has to do with energy. We tend to play the faster songs a lot more. When you play live, it’s about the communication between the audience and the band. Not so much about us putting all our emotions on a page, but about having a good time and celebrating with the crowd.
I also love what you’ve done visually so far for this record! What I notice coming back again and again, however, is a mesmerising landscape partnered up with choreography. What is dance’s significance to the band?
I’ve always loved watching people dance, especially choreographed performances. And a lot of the times in the music industry, dancers are behind the main artists, so you never focus on the choreography. But dance has a very fundamental connection to music, and we wanted to highlight the abundance of talent in London too. My mum also loves these videos—it’s a win-win. [Laughs]
What about landscape and nature?
It’s about creating a certain feeling, especially with California. That sunshine mood and atmosphere…