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JungleA highlight of the recent Splendour In The Grass festival, English outfit, Jungle, have released their self-titled debut album. MEG CRAWFORD reports.

Jungle are a supremely talented, soul groovy celebration of funk. Until quite recently, they were anonymous – known solely as a pair of mates recognised as ‘J’ and ‘T’.

Their music took centre stage, as did the prodigiously talented performers appearing in their mesmerising film clips. In fact, we still don’t know that much more about them on a personal level. J stands for Josh and T stands for Tom, but their strong preference is to talk about their music.

“Yeah, the whole buzz around anonymity shocked and surprised us,” J reflects. “It just naturally happened that way when we put the videos out. People just assumed that we were the High Rollers (the extraordinary skaters appearing in the clip for The Heat), but we never said that.

“In Jungle, being ‘J’ removes the ego,” he continues. “It’s not about status or being a leader. There is no lead singer. Anonymity became a byword for the band. It’s weird because in different parts of the world, they are more hung up on the anonymity, in other places it’s more about the sound.”

J is obtuse about what the pair were doing right before Jungle hit their straps. He is happy, however, to talk about how they met and the longevity of their friendship. “We were neighbours,” he reveals. “We didn’t live immediately next door to each other, but there was this fence in our neighbourhood running behind the houses and it was a congregating place for 10-year-olds. That’s where it started – not in a full production suite when we were 21. T had this guitar with three strings and we started talking about guitars, even though we didn’t know how to play them. Over time, the band became an excuse for us to spend more time together and hang out. It still is.”

J attributes their enduring friendship to a lack of ego. “We know what works for us and what doesn’t,” J continues, “and keeping ego out of the room is what works for us. Jungle is an escape from ego. It’s a place where we can go and create. If you get defensive or angry – that’s ego. Once you identify that, you can just drop it. You don’t have to be consumed by it.”

On the topic of their success generally, J emphasises the importance of staying in the moment and gives food for thought.     “Everyone has that voice,” he assures. “The one that says, ‘What if this, what if that?’. It’s just fear – but the past and future don’t exist. There’s nothing to worry about in the now. It’s difficult to subdue that thought, when you’re saying to yourself, ‘No, I’m being stupid’, but if you let it take over, you will struggle.

“Creativity doesn’t happen when you are worried about, ‘What if people don’t like it?’ We’re not Zen Buddhists though – we’re always learning. You have to understand though – you need to eliminate the future and the past. Take a failed relationship – that doesn’t exist anymore. A bird doesn’t think about a failed relationship does it?”

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