Jungle music is doing big things right now. Labels like Born On Road, Jungle Cakes & Serial Killaz are smashing it with their new school spin on the original flavours. OverShadow have bought back artists from one of the original proto jungle labels & given them a new platform.
BandCamp has fed the hunger for repress releases of some original anthems.
Deep Jungle is a label from way back when who are having a resurgence thanks in part to the Bandcamp phenomenon. We speak to DJ Harmony to find out more…
First & foremost give us a little backstory on the labels history
Deep Jungle was started in 1994 by Steven Lyall and me. We’ve known each other since day one: Steve, me, Sacha (Lucky Spin) and his brother Justin (Dee Jay Recordings) all grew up on the same street and Steve was actually my next door neighbor. After some years working together in the Lucky Spin shop, LS closed and a new record shop called Section 5 opened in its place, managed by Steve. Section 5 already had an in-house label, but the label had a backlog of releases, as did its larger affiliate Moving Shadow. So we decided to start a new label to release some of the stuff which couldn’t come out on Section 5 or Shadow due to the hectic release schedule & backlog of those labels.
What made you want to bring the label back again? It’s seems jungle has been making a real comeback over the past few years
I’ve been around for a long time, and have always wanted to start another label, but felt it would be better to revive Deep Jungle as I have more to offer here. This is still where my heart is, and I knew with DJ I could tap into the pool of artists (friends) I’ve known for years now.
Dealing largely with friends, friends of friends and longtime associates, the trust is already there – I can often ask them for tracks which other people couldn’t. When I first relaunched the label, I asked Jamie / J Majik to help me, as he’s another person I’ve known for 25+ years. We’ve drifted apart over the past few years of the label, as he has own tunes and label to focus on, so now it’s me doing it.
A couple of years back you released the much sought after ‘Charade’ by Grooverider. A gem that never saw a full release back in the day. How did you manage to secure that one?
I’ve known Groove for 30 years now, so it wasn’t that scary to ask him even though I was fully aware he might say “no”. In all these years, I never stopped talking to him or my other friends from the scene – we’ve stayed in touch all this time. As I was mentioning above this really helps with the label – having established relationships and circles of friends going back years.
Dillinja’s Deep Deadly Subs is another track I loved from back in that day that you put out. How are you getting your hands on such classics?
Hmm, I guess the answer here is the same as above really. Even though I mostly focus on previously unreleased tunes, there’s a few top classics like “Deep Deadly Subs” and “Sovereign Melody” that I really feel warranted a repress. Some of these releases go for massive amounts, often well over £100. In the original days, this would have been crazy – jungle wasn’t ever meant for elites. It was for every man and woman, not just the rich few. That’s part of why I get these tunes out there, and why I do digital alongside vinyl.
It’s not just about Deep Jungle – In general, I think people getting these prohibitively expensive classics back out there at normal record prices can only be a good thing. This way, more people can enjoy them without breaking the bank, and money actually goes to the original artist, not just the second hand record dealers (some of who have probably made more off these records than the original artist did back in the day).
Are you finding your audience is of the older generation that experienced the first wave of jungle, or is it kids that missed out first time round trying to experience that energy?
Really it’s both. We get the original junglist buyers from back in the day, but we also get the younger kids who are hearing these tunes for the first time. It’s amazing and a bit humbling to see this new generation caring so much about something we started 30 years ago.
Vinyl seems to be a big thing again. I notice you’ve been shifting some re-presses & some previously unreleased Deep Jungle gems via your Bandcamp page. How are you selecting which tracks are worthy of being cut to vinyl?
Luckily for us, music was moving so fast in the 90’s that there were plenty of tracks left aside back then, for any number of reasons aside from track quality. With so much unreleased stuff, being in a good position to hear it for all the reasons mentioned above, it’s easy to pick and choose what should come out versus what should say unreleased. It’s like pretending you’re listening to a new record in Blackmarket (headphones on), asking yourself “should I buy this?” With the represses, we take the same approach to track quality, but are even more picky and obviously try to only do stuff that is very rare and hard to get hold of.
Do you find you have a pretty loyal community of jungle fans on social media requesting certain tracks or artists?
Very loyal – Big up my DJ social media crew. Obviously a lot of fans ask for Dillinja stuff the most. It makes sense: in a scene of great producers, Karl is truly special. The tunes he wrote back then sound just as great today as they did decades ago. So we do feature a good amount of his work, but obviously we can’t only put out his tunes – it’s Deep Jungle, not Deep Dillinja. So we also try to cover a wide spectrum of other tunes/artists from back then.
How important do you think Bandcamp is for labels like yours?
So important! We love it. We’ve thought about moving to a custom website, but Bandcamp is just too good to leave. It’s all about the community aspect – giving fans the ability to add to their collection, see what their friends are buying, and getting recommended similar releases. A separate website couldn’t give us any of that.
Their ‘No Fee Fridays’ have been a real gold mine for a lot of artists during lockdown. You been taking advantage of that?
We certainly have! We did twelve 12” releases in 2020, and one album, all of which came out on those days. I think we hit all but one ‘No Fee Friday’ last year.
Let’s touch on your own production history. You made a few big tunes back in the heyday of jungle, with releases on Section 5 & Moving Shadow. Are you still as active in the studio?
Very much so, maybe even more than back in the day. I’m constantly writing new music now that I have the bug for it and a proper home setup. I love writing tunes to, to dj or even just to listen to myself, and I just hope other people are liking what I’m doing as well. Just last year, I did my first album, ‘Resurgence’, plus five new 12” singles on Deep Jungle. This year, I’m already working on my 2nd album ‘Resurgence 2’, which will hopefully be out in the summer. I still plan to do more 12”s this year, including one on Deep Jungle Feb 5th and a remix of Dextrous – ‘Loveable’ out Feb 5th on Shimon’s Audio Porn label. The ‘Loveable’ release is special, as it’s a charity release with all the money going to Macmillan Cancer Support.
After that, there’s another Harmony 12″ out in April, the ‘Resurgence 2’ album, and a collab with Tim Reaper on his label Future Retro.
Do you have a favourite track from your own DJ Harmony discography? If so, what is it & why?
I generally like what I’m working on, otherwise I won’t release it. But if I had to pick one from back in the day, I’d say ‘Let Me In’ because it was the first track I signed to Moving Shadow. It was just a moment i’ll never forget: playing it to Rob in his Stevenage studio, him listening to it and looking at me saying “Welcome to Shadow”. As for new tunes, ‘Abbey Road” is special for me, as are the tunes on ‘Resurgence‘.
I mentioned Over/Shadow in the intro, have you had a call from them to join their roster of former Moving Shadow artists?
Full respect to Over/Shadow – I’ve known all those guys since back in the day when I was involved with Moving Shadow. For now, I’m mostly focusing on getting my own stuff out on Deep Jungle, but there’s no telling what the future might bring.
What’s In Store?
What’s in store for Deep Jungle in 2021? Any new exclusives you can share?
Lots of exciting stuff in store! We’ve got Lynford from Rufige Kru with his 1st EP on Deep Jungle as Phantom Image, Kid Lib, Tech itch, Phineus II, Tim Reaper & Dwarde, Subjects, Harmony, more Dillinja later in the year, and others I’ll hold down for now 🙂
Finally is the future looking bright for jungle music?
Yes, very much so! We have an amazing scene right now, with very talented young artists as well as some old heads still here. I can only see it getting brighter. Long live jungle. Shouts out to Kid Lib, Tim Reaper, Pete Devnull, Dwarde, Equinox, Sully, Modi, JKenzo, Teedinosaurs, Double O, Mantra, Stretch, Marc 4hero, J Majik, Sherelle, Paul Special Request, Bailey, Pete Parsons, Coco, Flight, Gremlinz, Pete Cannon, Loxy, Djinn, Madcap, Dom & Roland, Dub One, B-Key, Nebula, Threshold, Ricky Force, Si 2 Bad Mice, Becks, DJ Trax, Bizzy B and all Deep Jungle artists.
Watch out for the new release from Deep Jungle this Friday via their Bandcamp page
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