Imagine the perfect summer. Lying in the sun all day, jumping into the water for a cooling-off, having a little get together with your friends outside for some cool drinks and maybe even going to a nice party, club, or concert in the evening to celebrate being alive here and now.

Having trouble with evoking that feeling during this rainy and cold summer (at least here in Germany) and the still ongoing pandemic with so many restrictions? I can assure, you’re not alone, probably the most of us can’t really get into the right vibe for the summer 2021. But we can at least try, right? And fortunately, there are some optimistic artists, who can help us getting through those uncertain times and let us dream of a better future.

Dreaming of perfect summer

With their music, the London-based neo-soul duo Jungle evoke exactly the feeling I just talked about. Whilst listening to their new album Loving In Stereo, which arrived a few weeks back, you can’t prevent yourself from getting more and more into their groove and wanting to dance in a mild summer night to their music to celebrate life in all of its shapes. Evoking a summer feeling is a general aim, the two Jungle masterminds Tom McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson have in mind whilst creating new material:

Loving In Stereo is a very hopeful and fun album and it’s definitely got those summer vibes that we always try to bring to our music. Even if we have to live with this pandemic for years to come, then this record can still be a positive and healing experience for everyone who hears it”, tells me Tom in my recent chat with him.

And he goes further:

The main aim of this record was to have fun and be free in the studio and to let the ideas speak for themselves rather than over-thinking it all. So, it’s a very positive, energetic and fun sounding album as a result. It feels like the ‘ultimate’ Jungle album where we have finally been able to truly realise the ideas we’ve had in our heads.”

Creative freedom

Photo by Filmawi

Loving In Stereo is the band’s third full length and feels like a natural continuation of what the duo started back in 2014 with their acclaimed, self-titled debut record which got gold-status in the UK. However, Tom and Josh never trie to get too much into the focus of the media because they see the band more as a collective rather than a duo. Although the two childhood-friends initiated the project, they try to emphasis on their music and aesthetics rather than on their own personalities. That’s also why the two like to be only called J and T. During the last years, they invited different artists from various musical genres to join the collective and perform the songs live on stage. Emerged is a sound which is hard to classify. Sometimes neo-soul, sometimes funky, another time more hip-hop, then some kind of indie. But one thing is sure: the songs are always catchy, positive, and danceable. And with their third album, the collective finally arrived at a place where they always wanted to be.

There is a new confidence that we have in the studio now which allows us to express ourselves much more fluidly and I think that from here the only way is up. In a weird way it’s almost a process of reversing the last 8 years and taking ourselves back to a place before Jungle really existed as that is the most creatively free we can be.”

To be fully in control of their musical output, the band also freed themselves from any other restrictions or influences and formed their very own label.

“It’s very exciting to have total control over everything that we do. The record is the first album we’ve made with no input from a label and it’s our best yet, so that says a lot for us. We spent a lot of years asking for people’s opinions on our art and that can make you question your own judgement or even lose it totally which is scary and dangerous for a creative. We’re back in a place now where we don’t question ourselves at all and that ultimately brings us a lot of joy.”

A fictional universe

As already mentioned, for J and T it is a matter of heart to not move into the focus of Jungle as they want the music to speak for itself without any distractions by their looks or personalities. As T states himself: “Our art is more important than our egos.” Definitely an attitude which would also suit other artists. Besides, for the two musicians, Jungle is much more than only two people making music together. It is rather a whole fictional universe J and T created and can disappear into. As a result of this set of minds, the two never show themselves in their own videos but rather feature talented dancers which perform a choreography filmed in one take.

The dancers in our videos are the best in London and our creative partner Charlie Diu Placido has incredible connections and friendships within that scene. Their energy and talent is at the heart of what we do on-screen. We want to create a consistent conceptual idea for all our visuals and artwork so that it feels like a collection of videos that span our whole careers, and let’s be honest, it’s much more interesting to watch than videos of us miming our own songs awkwardly on camera”, explains T to us. He goes further and adds:

“I want to be able to watch all of our videos when I’m old and grey and not think ‘what the fuck was I doing in that video’. We’re just not interested in being the stars, there are much more talented people that we want the world to see and connect with.”

Jungle appears to be more than only two friends making music together. It is rather about creating a whole musical world which enlarges with every album release. All records relate to each other – musically and visually – and continue the story of the predecessors.

It’s about consistency, simplicity and concept. We want every album to feel like a chapter in a book, or part of a wider collection rather than a unique record that isn’t connected to the other work we have produced. When we look back in years to come, I think we’ll be very satisfied that we had the bravery to see this concept through to the end, whenever that may be.”

Loving In Stereo by Jungle is out now via Coiola.