Jungle: Jungle is a place where we escape our egos

Categories: Q&A
Photo by Dan Wilton

Since they began releasing music, Jungle have preferred to remain somewhat steeped in mystery. Initially counting themselves as a duo going only by their first initials -- J and T -- they recently revealed that the group is actually comprised of seven members, and they aren't the people you've seen in their music videos. Their instantly classic blend of pop and disco sounds are unavoidably catchy, and the mysterious aura surrounding them has done nothing to detract from the quality of their music.

On the heels of their viral internet success, Jungle will release their debut self-titled album this July on XL Recordings. Gimme Noise had the chance to spend some time on Skype with J as the band prepares for their first American tour, making a stop this Friday in Minneapolis at the Fine Line. J was eager to tell us about his efforts to leave the ego behind and utilize Jungle as a place to experience true freedom.

Photo courtesy of XL Recordings
Gimme Noise: So you are one of the founding members of Jungle.

You make it sound like some cult.

Is it a cult?

I wish.

If you were a cult, what would your mission statement be?

To have fun and enjoy life. Just to be normal and not be taken too seriously.

So it's you -- J, and T is the other original member.

Well, I'm Josh, and Tom is T. It's funny, you know, it's really weird speaking to people around the world when they come back to you and go, "Oh my god, you're so mysterious; I can't find anything about you; I'm panicking a little bit; I don't know what to do." That kind of surprises us in a way because we haven't had much control over what was written about us and what people say or publish. That's not what we do. We're just producers who make music, and we make videos, and we play music live.

I think it started out with us putting those videos out last year. As most producers do, we're not in our own videos, 'cause that's lame -- it's just not about that, it's too much like taking selfies. Why would you take a selfie? It just feels weird. When other people take photos of us, like kids, that's fine -- that's other people's thing. But I think we always had a big issue with self-publicizing, and trying to take credit for so much.

We're not really seeking fame; we're not really seeking attention in that way. We get great satisfaction out of the fact that people like the music and enjoy watching it live. If we wanted it to be all about us, we would have been models. It's about the music, ultimately. A lot of artists and musicians say that and it is quite a cliché thing to say in music these days, especially with the internet, but it kind of is, and you've just got to believe in that. Jungle is a place where we escape our own egos. It's a place where we can be free from that sort of desperation to be liked, or desperation to be someone that somebody else loves. We already have that within our own group of people. We already have that within me and T, for example. That's where we start; that's why the music happened -- because there is no ego, and that's why it feels so liberating. It's an experience for us as well as everybody else. I suppose that's where we escape to.

That's who we are in the real world -- where your bills are, where your fucking taxes are. I suppose we want to leave that behind when we enter. Leaving that person behind helps you create something that isn't driven by your ego, it's just driven by your creativity and your emotion. That only comes from playing music for ten or 15 years, the kind of music that never felt right, and now we finally dropped the ego a little bit and are crafting music that feels honest and truthful to true expression.

School tends to make you into something that you're not -- it tends to pressure you into being a person that you think you should be. You watch the television, you go on the internet and you see all these images of somebody else. I spent my whole life so far trying to pretend to be someone I'm not. I think everyone does. There's a magazine: why aren't I as hot as them? Why can't I be as cool as that person? Then you come to a place where you can actually sit back and say, 'Well, I am what I am," and that's where you can start to understand life and who you are. I think that's where we're at, really. That's the whole fucking story.

You said that you've come to find who you really are. Who is that?

That's just a process. We're all the same, you know. It's just a process of being happy from within and not actually seeking anything from other people. In relation to music or art, having to seek other people's appraisals to kind of get adrenaline, or to kind of get some sort of dopamine rush. It's not about that, it's about having that there already, because if you're constantly seeking it from elsewhere, it's going to run out.

You play a song to your girlfriend and she says, "Yeah, it's all right, I really like it." You go, "Yeah, okay, cool, I feel great." Ten minutes later, that's gone. It's like a drug. If you've already got the drug and you're already happy with yourself and happy with it, then you're never going to run out of it. I know that sounds kind of crazy.

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