jbSince drop­ping their debut album Flight 314, Jungle Brown have been going from strength to strength. Bridging the sounds of grime, boom-bap and soul, Jungle Brown are a col­lect­ive con­sist­ing of Mae­ar, Ric Flo and Tony Bones. Des­pite not hav­ing major label back­ing, Jungle Brown has spent the last few years carving a con­sid­er­able name for them­selves through steady grind­ing. They have appeared at Gla­ston­bury and Boomtown and shared the stage with De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane and Ghost­face Kil­lah.

Tak­ing num­bers into account, Jungle Brown has also done pretty well for them­selves. Across stream­ing plat­forms they’ve garnered more than half a mil­lion in streams, charted on the iTunes charts and appeared in sev­er­al big Spo­ti­fy playl­ists. I caught up with Jungle Brown to dis­cuss inde­pend­ent suc­cess and music aspir­a­tions.

Let’s talk about the new pro­ject! Full Circle is released March 9th this year, what kind of dir­ec­tion are you going with this album?

Mae­ar Sea­son: Really we just wanted an eclect­ic range of music. All the dif­fer­ent vibes we like and are inspired by. It’s full circle so we also have a full circle range of top­ics and themes… things we care about, things we relate too.

Ric Flo: Full Circle embod­ies the eclect­ic influ­ence of sounds that have shaped our jour­ney in the city jungle and life exper­i­ence that come with that. It’s ded­ic­ated to work­ing class mil­len­ni­als who have a desire to fol­low their dreams and have fun while doing it.

Can we go back to the begin­ning? How did you guys come togeth­er as a group?

Mae­ar Sea­son: We have made music togeth­er for years before we formed the group. We all got a stu­dio togeth­er and thought why not make a group too.

Ric Flo: We all cross paths back in Bournemouth. I was fostered there in my teen­age years. Met Tony The Pro­du­cer via a free­style beat­box­ing cypher on the streets and first col­lab­or­ated with Mae­ar back in 2006, Myspace days. We sup­por­ted Jeh­st, Klash­nekoff and LowKey when they came to the south coast back in the day.

We recon­nec­ted in Lon­don after Uni­ver­sity via the love of rap music. Got a stu­dio togeth­er for solo music endeav­ours and organ­ic­ally cre­ated music col­lect­ively about 4 years ago. Our first col­lect­ive release was the ‘Take 1’ EP and it all took off from there.

What’s the cre­at­ive pro­cess like between all three of you? How does the song­writ­ing come about?

Mae­ar Sea­son: The beat is always the fun­da­ment­al, once Bones gets even an idea down, myself and Ric will start vibin’. Either one of us, will have a few bars or a concept and we get the song down there and then. We’ll go back to it to add a hook or extra pro­duc­tion ele­ments, but any­time we start a song in stu­dio we always get the verses down or even the full song in that moment.

Ric Flo: The found­a­tion of the music is cre­ated in the moment. Tony cre­ates the beat on the spot in the stu­dio and me and Mae­ar free flow our thoughts and build upon it from there.

My usu­al solo pro­cess is often to brain­storm ideas pri­or to com­ing to the stu­dio but I enjoy the organ­ic nature of our col­lect­ive pro­cess, keeps me present and open to ideas. Know­ing each oth­er pretty well, we work quick so with­in a few hours we always have the main ele­ments of the track done. Way­side is one of our best tracks and was cre­ated all in-house from start to fin­ish in 24hrs and the video was shot and edited in a week­end!

2016 and 2017 were big years for Jungle Brown. On the tour­ing front you shared the stage with De La Soul, Ghost­face Killa and per­formed in Boomtown and Gla­ston­bury.  How did you find tour­ing with a big­ger plat­form — has it impacted your sound?

Mae­ar Sea­son: We were trans­ition­ing into dif­fer­ent sounds before we did all of that, but it def­in­itely impacted our show… it made us aspire for the best show pos­sible. De la soul was huge for us, they really put on a show and we learnt a lot.

Ric Flo: For sure, Way­side was def­in­itely born out of hav­ing more hype tracks for crowds to go wild too. Even Wicked I had the vis­ion for big crowds to mosh too! We found the value of live instru­ments being essen­tial to mak­ing us stand out from oth­er acts and giv­ing people more than just beats and rhymes. We are cur­rently exper­i­ment­ing with the live instru­ments & Maschine set up and I’m excited to see where we can take it.

You’ve also racked up a decent amount of streams and have been inde­pend­ent through­out all of this suc­cess, so it raises the ques­tion: are you look­ing to sign to a label? Do you think it’ll help you reach your music­al aspir­a­tions?

Mae­ar Sea­son: I don’t think we are neces­sar­ily against labels or for them. I think it’s just about cut­ting the right deal. I know there is a lot of fin­ess­ing going on, on the parts of label and we have come way too far to play vic­tim to that. I do think the right label and the right deal can push things to the next level though. Cash is king at the end of the day. Someone is fund­ing someone’s career even if it ain’t a label. It’s essen­tially the main reas­on people sign the deal, it’s a glor­i­fied loan, and the second reas­on is the reach and con­nec­tions. Both things can be good…but we rid­ing the wave no mat­ter what hap­pens… The des­tin­a­tion is guar­an­teed, the jour­ney is vari­able.

Ric Flo: All of our suc­cess has been down to hav­ing the right team and dope music and we just want to con­tin­ue to build on that with integ­rity. We are happy to talk to labels to see what they can offer but we in the rise of the inde­pend­ent and I’m lov­ing the jour­ney. We are going to keep doing what we are doing and release more music as col­lect­ively and indi­vidu­ally.

In an earli­er inter­view with Keak­ie, Mae­ar said “the UK has nev­er really kicked off when it comes to black music…it has niche moments and people get bored.” With the suc­cess of Stormzy, Little Simz and oth­er BME acts, do you think the UK music industry really respects black music right now? Are things chan­ging?

Mae­ar Sea­son: I don’t think the UK respects any­thing black, it’s all about money, if you can prove it makes money then they will show some sort of sup­port. The scene right now is bub­bling due to the entre­pren­eur­i­al vis­ion and love of music of people like Stomzy and Lil Simz. It’s not because the industry wanted to start focus­sing on black music, black music focused on itself and people star­ted to take notice. Things are chan­ging in the sense, there is anoth­er wave, it’s big­ger than it’s ever been, and due to plat­forms like GRM, believe digit­al, Tid­al, spe­cial­ist radio and You­Tube more artists are able to jump on the wave inde­pend­ently and make a name for them­selves. The industry can­’t ignore the num­bers, it can­’t ignore the noise, and so as long as we do our part, it will improve and improve, they will not only take notice but install more sys­tems to cham­pi­on it. One thing we must focus on is diversity. As long as we show a wide range of music, the people will stay inter­ested and not get bored, it won’t die down. So far this year I’m see­ing that being reflec­ted, there’s more to go, but that’s what makes this peri­od so excit­ing. What we do from here could solid­i­fy us forever, the labels and agen­cies like dis­turb­ing and #merky etc, being estab­lished and grown, is all part of the puzzle, once we have wealth and dis­tri­bu­tion cap­ab­il­it­ies, the world is our oyster… It’s crazy!

Ric Flo: The industry was nev­er about respect it’s about money but with the rise of the digit­al revolu­tion and suc­cess­ful inde­pend­ent acts the industry has no choice but to take notice of what the people really want. We’re blessed to be part of this gen­er­a­tion and mar­ket dir­ect to fans regard­less of what the industry is try­ing to pro­mote.

Are there any artists you’d like to col­lab­or­ate with?

Mae­ar Sea­son: Yeah loads, a few at the top of my head UK wise, is Knucks, SNE, Shakka, Coops, IAM­D­DB.

Ric Flo: Bonobo, Sbtrkt, Sampha, Tom Misch, Jay Prince, Mundu, Lil Simz, Soma, Sango, Dave B.

Do you have any live shows for us to watch out for?

 Sat­urday 10th March – Birth­days – Dal­ston

Sat­urday 31st March – Hootanannys – LIVE – DJ Snuff

Fri­day April 6th–  Wat­ford

Sat­urday April 7th — Liv­er­pool

Sat­urday July 14th – Love­box – Lon­don


Listen to more from Jungle Brown and get your copy of the FULL CIRCLE on March 9th :

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Mark Mukasa

Mark Mukasa

Mark is a South Lon­don based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He’s also an MMA and his­tory enthu­si­ast who tries to keep his love of animé under wraps.

About Mark Mukasa

Mark Mukasa
Mark is a South London based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He's also an MMA and history enthusiast who tries to keep his love of anime under wraps.