Name: La Jungle
Members: Rémy Venant aka Roxie Rookie, Mathieu Flasse aka Jim Frisko Binwette
Occupation: Guitarist (Jim), drummer (Roxie)
Recent release: La Jungle's Ephemeral Feast is out via Stock, À Tant Rêver Du Roi, Black Basset, and Rockerill. Order it via bandcamp.
Book: Walden by Henri David Thoreau
Film: Fitzcarraldo by Werner Herzog
Books: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Tool, the writter killed himself before becoming famous. And Things The Grandchildren Should Know by Mark Oliver Everett, frontman from the band Eels. The title was translated in french as Tais-toi Ou Meurs (Shut up or die).
Records: Yesterday I listened I Was Real by the band 75 Dollars Bill with my little daughter. A mix of american folk and noisy country. The drummer sits on a wooden box and play it with hands and sticks. And Brace Up! By Bill Orcutt & Chris Corsano, a free-jazz piece with a drummer and a guitar player.
If you enjoyed this interview with La Jungle and would like to find out more about their work, visit the band's official website. They're also on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
Roxie: Before La Jungle, I did not perform in noticable other bands. Only bands with friends, playing grungy stuffs when we where teenagers. Mat and me started playing together in 2013 in my parent's house. I was 24 and I wanted to perform in a band sounding like Pneu, Hella or Lightning Bolt. For sure, these aspirations changed in the last ten years.
Mat: I was 15 years old when I wrote my first song. And also 15 for my first ever gig. It was always about writing my own music. I was listening to Leonard Cohen, The Beatles and Nirvana. It led me to The Jesus Lizard, Fugazi, Drive Like Jehu … And the alternative music world. I had six bands before La Jungle I think.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
Roxie: In my practice, playing drum is not a challenge to be the best modern drummer or the one you will call for your studio session with the new pop singer in town. It's more about playing hard and in an intense way. That's what people like in this band I think. Playing loud with energy and personnal investment, to make something positive related with trance. I'm not really on a quest to find the good tube with the good riff, the perfect drum pattern and the best lyrics. It's doesn't matter at all. That band is not about that. That's maybe why we play dancy and techno stuffs.
Mat: Yeah, it's a question of feelings. The best is when you are at a concert or an exhibition and something comes out of the artwork showing you new routes to go further with your own creativity. Routes you didn't know. It didn't exist for you before this emotion hits you.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
Mat: Being able to do something without doing the same thing. Or not really the same. New encounters with different people. To be proud in the future when I listen to it again. We don't think about breakthroughs. These are just personal choices and tastes of different people. Being able to keep your audience interested is already something I think.
Roxie: It seems that our live performances make people happy around us. This is way more important than finding the new guitar sound or drum pattern that will change everything on the next album.
This band is mainly about live performance. We are not that good at making new stuff with new ideas, but we try. We just make records and tour a lot. Without questionning ourselves that much. Just do things.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
Mat: I learned guitar and music on my own. Listening to records by Leonard Cohen or Nirvana for example. Try to find the right chords and write the lyrics. So I think I have the melancholy and the energy of that.
Maybe that's what I'm looking for in terms of new music. I discovered alternative paths in music. Still now. I try to explore all directions as much as possible. And I try to keep the energy that I find in my journeys.
Roxie: And it's not only about the music you make. It's also about how you release your album, how you sell it and distribute it, the kind of venues where you perform. Most of my favorite bands are not into marketing stuffs. They are not necessary in this classical schema which consists in one new studio album every 4 years with a tour in mostly big venues indoor and a few ridiculously huge festivals. And I'm personally really sensitive to that.
I'm deeply sorry but I will not buy my tickets to see the best band of the decade wich appears in all my friends's top of the year lists. When I see the same name coming in many top list and a following sponsored post inviting me to buy the t-shirt with the colored LP, I'm really not convinced I'll enjoy the album. And most of the time, it's just not my thing. It does not inspire me as a drummer or as a member of a touring band.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
Mat: Definitely instinct and spontaneity. These have been my keys for a long time now.
Roxie: You know, we love natural wine, craft beers, good local food, weed sometimes. Just good things. We mix that with extensive touring and that's the recipe. We try to answer YES to most of the propositions we have for gigs, collaborations, ideas. That's why we have so much stuff to listen on our Bandcamp and why we perform something like 100 gigs a year.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music ? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
Roxie: We try both I think. Our roots are in noise and rock music, and we will not try to change or hide that. At the same time, we try to make evolutions in our own sound album after album. For sure it's not that easy to find new drum fills or to work with a new effect pedal, and most of the time it does not work.
When we are not on tour, not often so, we organise residencies to see how we can make it happen, draw new songs with different sounds, and «continuing a tradition» of noise music at the same time.
Mat: Music is just a big beast that changes shape all the time. It produces something new with what it has eaten 60 years ago or so. It is tradition. The codes change. Music remains an emotion. Evolve.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
Mat: For us, the key was to tour, non-stop. A maximum. And everywhere, not necessarily typical places and bars but also weddings, raves, birthdays, apartment exhibitions, forest, wild concerts, happenings. It helps us to become sharper in terms of performance during gigs.
So you really have to organize your time with the families. In addition, it will bring you a lot of new encounters and proposals to do new things. And that's what keeps you on the road.
Roxie: For young and old drummers: buy a second-hand practice pad and check tutorials on youtube. Work it 30 minutes a day. It changed my life, forever.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
Roxie: I spend time with my kiddo and walk with her from home to the creche, I watch documentaries showing how bad the world is, I answer mails for the band, I take care of social media for the band, I write stuff to answer artistic open calls for the band, I work my drumming alone in a basement in Brussels but it's boring, I drive the van sometimes, I sleep in the van most of the time, we perform and next we celebrate, and we do it again the next day.
Mat: Wake up. Child verification. School. Checking emails. Respond to emails. Drawings for the new LP. Or tees. Then administrative. Invoices. Contracts. Publish news on the net. To eat. Graphics. Answer to 15 interview questions. Troubleshoot issues with the pressing plant. Feedback to the sound engineer on new recording tracks. School. Playing. To play. To cook. Fairy tales. Checking emails. Respond to emails. Listen to music. Sleep. Or go to a concert. Fun. Friends. Sweat. Sweat. Sweat. Beer. Sleeping place. A glass of red wine. Laugh. Opera on TV. Sleep.