Will Token is a Level 6 Audio Production student at SAE London who has launched ‘Jungle Revival Podcast’ as a way of showcasing his research about the revival of jungle music.
We spoke to him to find out more about what he has learnt so far, his podcast inspirations, and his ambitions for the project going forwards.
What research methods have you been using to learn about the revival of Jungle music?
One of the reasons that I started this project is that most of what has been written about jungle covers the so-called “golden age” in the mid 1990s. There are heaps of biographies and first-hand accounts that I’ve been reading that talk about that period in great detail, but not quite as much written about the genre in more recent times.
To get around that I’ve organised to sit down with the producers, DJs and label managers who are currently working in the jungle scene in order to interview them about their experiences and perspectives. There really is no substitute for that. For most of its history, jungle culture has existed outside of the mainstream line of sight and to find the most interesting stories you need to talk to those who have been living and breathing jungle. A brilliant place to find those people is the Facebook group Long Live Beautifully Crafted Jungle.
What have you learnt so far about the creative process involved in the creation of classic jungle in the modern era?
The aesthetics of the Jungle genre have stayed relatively consistent since the early 1990’s. A lot of artists still try to emulate the punchy, lo-fi sound of 1994 and the Akai S900 sampler is still one of the most sought after pieces of hardware for jungle producers for that reason. In saying that, a lot of brilliant jungle music was and continues to be produced entirely in a DAW. For every Paradox who lugs antiquated beige boxes around from country to country for his live performances, there is a Moresounds who performs brilliant sets with not much more than a laptop. A clever edit of the Amen break or a rolling, soulful bass line is what distinguishes a good tune from a great one, and that can be achieved by a multitude of production methods. A good idea will always mean more than the equipment with which it was realised.
To stay ahead of the curve a lot of producers have started to incorporate various other musical influences in their production. Elements of dancehall, reggae, funk and hip hop have always featured heavily in Jungle music, but more recently Sully and Om Unit have leaned heavily into Chicago’s Footwork sound, and Dead Man’s Chest has embraced the cavernous soundscapes of Dub into his work. It’s all about finding that meeting point between nostalgia and innovation, and those are some of the guys who do that very well.
What are your favourite podcasts that you have been inspired by?
The first thing that springs to mind is Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces. The format of Pip’s show inspired me to use long form interviews in my own shows, and in doing so I’ve found that people have been prepared to really open up and address more personal points than a traditional interview format might allow. The first episode of Jungle Revival has drawn comparisons to The Joe Rogan Experience, but in honesty I’ve not listened to much of it. I keep meaning to check it out but there’s so much other great content out there that’s taking up my time. Shows like The Weekly Planet, The Empire Movie Podcast and Kevin Smith’s Fatman Beyond feature pretty heavily in my playlist at present.
The common theme amongst all of those is that they approach their particular subject areas (usually superheroes, now that I think about it) in an unscripted, free-flowing manner. Kevin Smith in particular has been a huge inspiration, as he has all but left his film career behind him in favour of podcasting. The way he intertwines personal anecdotes with musings about life and pop culture in his trademark stoner drawl just works for me and that was what made me want to try my hand at podcasting as well.
How are you using the skills you have learnt at SAE to create your podcast, Jungle Revival?
The entire production process is heavily reliant on the skills I’ve picked up at SAE. The most important part has been my confidence in the use of the equipment, which seems to set a tone of professionalism during the interviews and put the guests at ease. Beyond that, the editing and mixing process is a breeze because of the hours I’ve spent comping vocals and chopping breaks. It’s also nice to be able to read mastering guidelines from the various hosting services and feel confident that I have the requisite skill set to ensure that my show meets those standards.
In the first episode of the podcast, Will speaks to Chris Inperspective: the label manager at Inperspective Records and Med School, the head of manufacturing at Hospital Records, as well as a highly sought after DJ and producer.
If you had to sell the podcast in one sentence, how would you describe it?
A rare glimpse into the inspirational and debaucherous lives of the people behind the world’s greatest musical genre.
What has been the most challenging aspect of launching your own podcast?
I guess the boring but truthful answer is promotion. The support so far for this project has been amazing but there’s still a long way to go before I start to reach the numbers that I’d aiming for. The wonderful thing about this genre is the fierce level of loyalty and devotion from the fanbase. For that reason it’s usually not too hard to get the people who live and breathe jungle culture to support this type of project, but reaching a wider audience than that community might prove to be a little trickier. I hope to see people using this podcast as an entry point to the genre and would love for it to help inspire a new generation of junglists.
How will you use the podcast medium going forwards in your studies at SAE?
I think it would be really interesting to use all of the interviews that I’m compiling for Jungle Revival to try to tell a story in more of a documentary format, rather than in their current format. Some of the insights that I’ve gained into the culture and community have been fascinating so far, in particular the ways in which racial and social inequality are intertwined with the history of rave culture, so for my major project I think it would be great to create an hour long documentary-style podcast that delves into these issues. I think podcasting is the perfect way to present something like that due to the ability to intertwine music with interviews and my own commentary. It’s also a medium that’s relatively new to me so it’s an opportunity to develop a new set of skills before I graduate.
What are you enjoying about studying at SAE?
I’ve studied at the Melbourne and London campuses and the access to such a high standard of equipment has been awesome, but the best thing about SAE has been the people. Any time I get myself a bit stuck, which in honesty is pretty often, someone’s always been around to give their advice and assistance be that a lecturer or another student. Everyone’s super friendly and happy to share their knowledge however they can, and it makes for a great atmosphere. Shout out to Jamie for his guidance on this project. I reckon he’s more excited about it than I am and it’s been genuinely wonderful to have that level of support.
You can download or stream the podcast here, or search for it on whichever app you usually use.
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