May 12/2015
WORDS Amanda Purdie PHOTOS Mathew Smith


In 2014, Jungle had critics’ tongues wagging with the release of their self-titled debut album. It earned the duo a Mercury Prize nomination and a host of favourable reviews describing them as the one of the most exciting things happening in music – not bad for a band that seemingly came out of nowhere.

In fact, Jungle is the product of childhood friends and London natives, Josh Lloyd-Watson (J) and Tom McFarland (T), who were making music together long before forming the band at the start of 2013. After releasing two self-produced, disco-inspired singles online, “The Heat” and “Platoon”, a coveted spot on BBC’s “Sound of 2014” list was quick to follow.

At the time, Jungle remained shielded in anonymity – not even their names were public knowledge. So when their video for “The Heat” went viral, many wondered if the pair of spellbinding, roller-skating dancers seen on screen were actually the men behind the music. As it turned out, they were two guys known as Icky and Silence from the High Rollaz UK skate crew. And so the mystery deepened.

At first glance, it might seem like the initial facelessness of Jungle was intended to build hype around the band ­– a way to get people talking. But J explains that it was completely unintentional. “I think it stems from a general misunderstanding of our original artistic concept,” he says. “It was a shyness, to some extent,” adds T. “Everybody’s insecure and self-conscious, and I think in the beginning it kind of stemmed from that. We used to play in a band before and we wanted to remove ourselves from that and leave it to the music.”

It wasn’t long before Jungle’s disco-tinged brand of modern soul caught the attention of XL Recordings. Their debut album was recorded between the band’s own home studio and the XL recording studio – a first for the two, who started off as bedroom producers recording on their laptops.

Anyone can stick a track on SoundCloud and have an audience for it – which is where we started. But the difference for us was when we started playing live and were able to see the impact.

J acknowledges the ease with which people can make music in today’s digital era: “Anyone can stick a track on SoundCloud and have an audience for it – which is where we started. But the difference for us was when we started playing live and were able to see the impact.”

Those early live shows are what changed – and finally exposed – the face of Jungle. After forming a collective of several different artists pulled from a range of disciplines, they eventually expanded to a seven-piece band. The intention was to take their music beyond the bedroom to create a very real, very human connection to the audience with a fuller sounding, more experiential performance. As J recalls: “We played a show in Mexico to around fifteen thousand people and the noise and energy from that crowd was just immense. It’s reassuring to know you are creating something that’s touching people.”

Trying to fit Jungle into any one category is no easy task, with a sound that’s influenced by several decades’ worth of funk, electronic, world music and seemingly everything in between. And that’s just fine with T: “I don’t really believe in trying to define music or classifying genres – I just believe in music. You could look at Kasabian and say they were ripping off The Stone Roses, until people started ripping of Kasabian and then nobody mentions the Stone Roses. Music has a cycle of borrowed influences.”

The initial mystery surrounding Jungle may have diminished, but their popularity continues to soar – as does the potential for criticism. Says T, “The more exposed you become, the more people want to bring you down.” But in typical Jungle fashion, they’re less concerned about what others think and more concerned with continuing to create great music that people want to listen to. T explains, “People are going to write negative things about you but you can learn to be stronger and use that criticism to help your process of writing.”

In the end, Jungle isn’t about the mystery or the hype or the image people choose to buy into. As J puts it, “It’s about removing the possibility of our own ego.”




  Duckwrth cannot be pinned down. The 28-year-old rapper, born Jared Lee in South Central, landed like a splash of mixed paints with his debut full-length I’m Uugly in fall 2016. Its 10 elastic tracks stretch across hip hop, chill wave, funk, and punk, all shrouded in a soft-focused haze. He aptly calls this impressionistic concoction “psych rap.” Early last November, Duckwrth released An Xtra Uugly Mixtape. Whereas I’m Uugly exalted the beauty that lives within the harshness and griminess of everyday life – from the physical to the political to the socioeconomic – An Xtra Uugly Mixtape encourages being unapologetically you. It is, as Duckwrth writes on his Soundcloud page, “the anthem for your rebellion.” Fittingly, the tape is higher in energy; the guitar sounds are cranked. An Xtra Uugly Mixtape is his attempt to put hip hop and rock on equal footing within the same piece of music. An Xtra Ugly Mixtape is also a gradual step towards fulfilling his stadium rock ambitions. Duckwrth had one of his most formative musical experiences at a stadium show. “I used to do the whole protest [thing] and be more politically driven,” he says. “But then there was a time when


Over the past four years, Halifax pop artist Ria Mae has accomplished dreams she has openly spoken about: being produced by fellow Nova Scotia success story Classified and touring with Tegan and Sara and Coleman Hell. Since creating her self-released demo of “Clothes Off” in 2013, she has signed with Sony Music and Nettwerk Management. The former has helped develop the careers of Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Coldplay, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, and many more. The finished version of the song – her major label debut – earned Mae her first Juno nomination, for “Single of the Year” in 2016, which put her in direct competition against Drake, The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber. From Mae’s new home in Toronto, only two days removed from a cross-Canada tour with Scott Helman, she spoke with Georgie about her sudden rise, working with Classified, stepping up as a voice for LGBTQ groups, and more. G—As you’ve discovered, you can make a lot of unexpected connections in a small town. But that can be a good thing because working with people who differ from you in their approach forces you to create from new perspectives. Do you ever have reservations about working with people who


Scott Helman

  Three years after the release of his first EP, Augusta, Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Helman has unleashed his debut full-length LP, Hôtel de Ville, a collection of 12 alt-pop coming-of-age tracks. The 22-year-old Toronto native who successfully broke into the music industry in his mid-teens earned himself two Juno Award nominations, certified gold status for his hit, Bungalow, and began quickly fielding comparisons to the likes of Vance Joy and Jeff Buckley. With a new level of acclaim awaiting him, Helman has recently finished his cross-Canada Scott vs. Ria tour with fellow Juno nominee Ria Mae. We thought it would be the right time to ask him about his momentous musical journey. G—You got your first guitar when you were ten. Was this what led you to become a musician? Scott Helman—I used to mess around on my friend’s guitar, and really wanted to learn how to play. So, I asked my parents for a guitar for Christmas. I remember coming down the stairs and seeing it, and knowing instantly what it was because of its shape. I never put it down after that. G—What kind of music did you listen to growing up? SH—My parents are British immigrants, so