They might not yet be a household name in Australia, but up and coming British girl group Neon Jungle is certainly one step closer to being so, with their latest single ‘Braveheart’ sliding into the ARIA top 20 last weekend. And although the girls – Shereen, Amira, Asami and Jess – might have only met 12 months ago, they’re already drafting up plans for world domination. We chatted to Shereen and Jess about how the band came to be, only to discover that two of the girls were literally plucked from the street.
“It’s crazy!,” Jess tells us. “Myself and Amira were seriously just walking down the street when we were approached and asked to come to the auditions. I think we were both a bit sceptical taking his card.
“And then we did our research and found out that this guy had worked with a few names before, so maybe we could trust him. And he paid for our travel and paid for our lunch, so we thought he was okay! Meanwhile, Shereen and Asami were found on YouTube.”
Naturally, the girls have been in each others’ pockets ever since; Shereen confirming that in the tried and true girlband fashion, the four are all now living under the same roof.
“It’s not as bad as it sounds and we still get along,” she tells us. “It’s crazy to think that we didn’t know each other a year ago and now we all live together. Like you say, we do live in each others’ back pockets, but we’ve got two bathrooms, so we’re okay as far as sharing is concerned.”
Though the band’s previous single ‘Trouble’ was given a soft release in Australia, it’s their current track ‘Braveheart’ that’s seemingly found favour with local audiences. And, the girls tell us, that could be because the track has an Australian connection.
“It was produced by an Australian duo,” Jess enthuses. “They’re called More Mega. It’s an adorable story actually. They’re a married couple – Sean (aka Snob Scrilla) and Cassie. Cassie was originally from Australia, but they both now live in LA.
“I think ‘Braveheart’ is a song that everyone can connect to, because there are so many different layers in it. There’s a rap part, there’s a part where the beat drops, there are the verses, there’s a pre-chorus. So it’s like there’s something for everyone.”
Jess also tells us that she and Amira had more than a little hand in co-writing the song.
“We were in the studio recording a different song and we were searching through Sean’s computer and heard the beat. It wasn’t even a completed song yet, but we thought ‘oh my gosh – what is this?’.
“Myself and Amira came up with the rap part, so we put in a call to our A&R team and told them to get down to the studio. They came down and said, ‘yeah, write it, record it, finish it, go go go.’. It was all so last minute.”
It’s clear the song has found its audience. Top five in the UK, No.2 in Scotland (as Shereen – a Scot – proudly points out) and now top 20 here in Australia. All four are pinching themselves.
“It’s crazy. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Jess admits. “This time last year we didn’t even know each other and now we’re in the charts, we’re speaking to you down under… it’s unbelievable. It’s honestly one of those things where there aren’t enough words to describe the feeling.”
“We’re amazed how well it has done and how many people love it,” continues Shereen. “But we’ve worked very hard, so it’s great for it to do as well as it has.”
With a sharp proliferation in the number of girlbands appearing on the charts over the past few years (Jess and Shereen refer to comparisons with Spice Girls and Little Mix), they tell us that there’s been a concerted effort to ensure Neon Jungle forges its own musical path.
“I guess we’re trying to break the girl group mould in some respects,” reveals Shereen. “Because we don’t wear matching outfits and we don’t do matching dance routines which I think keeps us really fresh.”
“I don’t even feel like it’s something that we’re purposely trying to do,” adds Jess. “We’re just being who we are. It just so happens that we’re doing something different. The four of us as individuals are all so different. We’re doing ‘us’, we’re different from them and we’re keeping it real for who we are as a group.”
Though the girls are immensely proud of the fact that they haven’t been manufactured on a TV talent show, they admit the fact they weren’t also throws up a few challenges.
“We didn’t have all the pressure of all of that, but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword,” Jess explains. “We haven’t had that platform, so every single fan we’ve managed to get has come organically, not from being on a TV show. So our popularity is literally all because of our music.”
Next up for the girls will be the single ‘Welcome To The Jungle’. It’s a track that holds special meaning for all four girls, because without it, the band might not even have a name.
“It took us so long to come up with a name. We were having so much trouble,” Jess admits.
“We’d done all these showcases and we had to be introduced as ‘the girls’ because we didn’t have a name,” Shereen adds.
“We wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for this song, I don’t think,” Jess confirms.
Beyond that, there’s an album waiting patiently in the wings. But when it might see the light of day seems to be a pickle of a question not only for us, but for the girls themselves.
“I’ve been asking that question of the record label,” admits Jess. “We’ve got about 95% of it done. We started recording it at this time last year, so we’ve been in the studio for a year recording it. It’s all down to choosing the right tracks, though.”
“As for a release date,” Shereen teases, “when we know, you’ll know.”
Neon Jungle’s single ‘Braveheart’ is available digitally now.