Previously known for their fictional mask donned personas and bedroom dream pop sonics, a move to Bristol following the release of their debut album triggered a new musical direction for duo Jadu Heart.
Leaving behind their alter egos Dina & Faro, and their electronic-leaning sound, the Anchor Point Records affiliates have been busy in their basement making lo fi psych-rock, distorted with cheap pedals and amps. These sounds, which are largely a collection of reflective love songs, can be heard on their sophomore album, Hyper Romance, which is set for release this September on VLF Records.
Ahead of the release they chat to us about their production processes, alongside an unreleased original material mix of random beats and demos.
Hyper Romance is out on 25th September.
Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?
Diva: When I was 6, my dad put a CD player in my room and I would play the same Nat King Cole CD over and over again for months. It’s the first time I remember autonomously choosing to do something I enjoyed and ‘Mona Lisa’ is still one of my favourite songs.
Alex: I used to spend my summers in a little cottage in the middle of France, the house is like stepping back in time and there’s no TV or Internet but my parents kept there record player there and their vinyl, so probably would be hearing the Beatles, Lou Reed, Captain Beefheart, Talking Heads and other albums playing on a tiny record player. I think my first literal memory of music is listening to ‘Barbie Girl’ on my parent’s bed when I was very very young and it was on the radio.
Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?
Diva: Not really, but my dad is an artist so I was always surrounded by creatives and was encouraged to pursue music. I did recently find out that my grandpa was in a band when he was my age and actually pressed a vinyl. To this day he still won’t let anyone listen to it haha.
Alex: Not really, but similar to Diva my parents are artists so me and my brother were brought up around a particular mindset that supported creativity, but as far as I’m aware I’m the first musician of the family.
What led you into music production?
Diva: I always hated the idea of having to rely on anyone to make my ideas a reality so getting into production was a pretty natural step for me to take. Also I heard a Flying Lotus tune when I was 15 and it blew my mind. I think that’s when I opened up Garage Band for the first time.
Alex: When I was younger I wanted to be in a band for as long as I can remember and always wrote music. Whenever I recorded it with other people it never turned out right for me so I just taught myself to do it.
Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?
Diva: I think I’m mostly inspired by bands and guitar based music, so I wouldn’t say any producers in particular. I’ve always gravitated towards artists like Metronomy, Little Dragon, Toro Y Moi. I think the thing that links them together is that they’re all artists that aren’t tied down by one genre. That’s definitely something that’s influenced my production style.
Alex: I can’t help but be influenced by everything around me haha. I think on the production side hearing Jai Paul really changed my life. It was just such a game changer and really made me start experimenting. Now I’m more influenced by record producers like Nigel Godrich, Brian Eno and Jack White. Think it’s come full circle back from making bedroom beats to trying to produce records.
Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio?
Alex: Our studio was in our basement for this album and it’s hard to be self motivated so there were no particular rituals other than just sit down and start. Starting is the hardest part and most often nothing comes or what does come is trash, but not letting that get you down is something I’ve learnt. Just turn off the computer and start again tomorrow.
Diva: “It’s okay if you write a shit song, it’s okay if you write a shit song, it’s okay if you write a shit song…”
Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?
Diva: Not particularly, I’m more of a just play and see what happens kind of person. I definitely go in with a certain mood though. Sometimes I want to write something upbeat and happy sounding and sometimes it’s a depressing kind of day. The weather seriously affects that for me.
Alex: Same, I know some producers and musicians that can hear something in their head and create it but we very much just experiment and letting the music lead us. I can’t read music even though I’ve tried to learn a thousand times, like you say, we are just jamming.
Are you the type of producer to work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?
Diva: Generally, I’m pretty happy with first takes etc because I truly believe that the soul of a song lies in the original conception, and most of the time if you try and recreate that it doesn’t feel really anymore. I’m a believer in “if a song needs that much work to make it good, then it probably wasn’t that good to begin with”. Or maybe I’m just lazy, I dunno…
Alex: I’ve never felt a song is finished ever, but there’s a point where you have to let it go. On average about 80 percent of the track comes in the first 5 hours. The last 20 percent, cleaning it up, re tracking stuff can take months or even years and that’s the worst part, but it’s important. It can be soul destroying when you just can’t get something to work, but that’s just how it is.
Can you talk us through how you might construct a track?
Jadu: Sometimes we find a really awkward and garbled iPhone recording. You know the kind of recording where you’re trying to sing every part at the same time and it sounds awful 3 months later. But every now and again you find a gem. I love listening back to the ‘demo’ version of a song once it’s been fleshed out. Other times I’ll just sit with a beat and a guitar and see how it goes.
How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?
Jadu: Interestingly we only really sample ourselves. We record guitar parts and stretch them, pitch them, throw a load of random effects on them until it sounds like some mad synth and then we’ll just use that. It’s a lot of fun.
What are the most important bits of kit that make a Jadu Heart track?
Jadu: Chorus, distortion and delay pedals. On everything. I reckon these three pedals are the basis of all of our material.
This mix is composed of 100% original Jadu Heart material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?
Jadu: When we make an album we really get involved with the overall sound and feel of it, we want it to feel like a coherent record and have a style and swagger unique to that record. If we used demos from this album it would have just been an hour of inaudible lo-fi hums and whistles of song sketches recorded on our phone, so instead we dug out all the random beats we make for fun that had no intention of being heard.
We write all the time but different music serves different purposes. The album is something we’ve spent nine months carefully crafting to immerse people into a sound and a world, whereas these tracks are just pure instant release stuff we make that wouldn’t fit on a record. It’s great that it gets to see the light of day though.
There’s a collaboration demo in there with LYAM (also on our label VLF) that we did years ago and that resurfaced when digging stuff out for this mix. I forgot how sick it was! Hoping to release it at some point.
Congratulations on your upcoming album, Hyper Romance. Can you talk us through the production process on one of the tracks?
Jadu: ‘Burning Hour’ was probably the song that took the longest production-wise. We were going back and forth with it and nothing seemed to sit right. The thing that really kicked it up a level was adding in live drums at the last minute. It completely brought the song to life. Oh and also we added in a load of samples of burning witches screaming which gave the tune a specific eeriness. It was weird but it worked.
Anything on the horizon for you? Any more releases we should know about?
Jadu: We’re just writing the next album (after Hyper Romance) and trying to reorganise all our cancelled US tour dates. Pretty excited about getting back out there, so look out for tour dates soon.
Hyper Romance is out on 25th September.