Jungle is two dudes, a groove, and a feeling
If you’ve been favored by the social media algorithm over the past couple of months, you may have seen clips of people around the world recreating the choreography from Jungle’s video for their single "Back in 74” in their homes and workplaces. The song and viral choreography, which is like an earworm but for your body, is from their latest album, Volcano, released on August 11, on Caiola Records. “We always love the idea of making music that dancers use in classes,” says Tom McFarland, one half of the producer duo that makes up Jungle. “We want our music to inspire people to want to move their bodies, whether you're a professional or whether you're at home, getting ready for a night out.”
Jungle is technically “just two dudes making records,” that is, McFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson who have been friends since they were nine years old. But when you hear and experience the music and videos it appears more like a collective making soul’d up dance tracks with visuals that lock you in.
Volcano, which is their fourth studio album, was released together with a short film of masterful one-shot music videos featuring the viral choreography by Shay Latukolan and storylines that had fans obsessed and at least one Redditor theorizing about easter eggs. “What we always want to do is shine a spotlight on people who deserve the credit and people who are just super talented,” McFarland says. "Shay is the best dance choreographer in the country. The cast are the best dancers in London and Europe.”
The band’s disco funk sound has evolved from their self-titled debut album, but they consistently maintain the secret sauce that threads all their music together. So you’ll always know a Jungle song when you hear it, or rather, you’ll know it when you feel it. “Essentially, it's an energy, isn't it? It's a groove. So it's something that's actually very intangible. And that's potentially what makes [our sound] so unique,” says McFarland.
Volcano is their most danceable album yet; awash with high-pitched vocals that sound like a hip-hop sample of an old soul song your parents used to play on Sunday mornings melding with house music beats that connect directly to your dancing muscles. Along with vocals from long-time collaborator Lydia Kitto, Volcano also includes features from the likes of Channel Tres on the sexy “I’ve Been in Love” and British hip-hop legend Roots Manuva on “You Ain’t No Celebrity.” Standout single “Back on 74” is a walk on a sunny day with its jangle of guitar and verses that conjure Curtis Mayfield. “Back on 74 is really just one of the rawest things we've ever made,” says McFarland. “Because it's just guitar, some percussions, and vocals. And it's just great lyrics and a great melody. There's not a lot of bells and whistles.”
The embellishments come with the live show, the third component of the Jungle experience. True to form, the producers enlist a powerhouse team to take their sound and energy from the studio to the music hall. “You know, we were never really meant to be performers, but we sort of fell into it, because we knew that the power of being able to play these songs live was irrepressible,” says McFarland. “The band are incredible, and they're so talented. They've just really given us the tools that we need to recreate these songs live.” The force is undeniable whether it’s through the stereo or screen or when you finally get to groove to it in real life. It’s just the Jungle feeling.