Django Django will release their new album, Born Under Saturn, on May 4th 2015 via Because Music before heading out on an 11-date UK Tour later that month. Django Django’s debut album came out in January 2012 on Because Music and was lavished with praise. It was “updated psychedelia that beguiles and delights” (The Guardian), “consistently mind-melting and often brilliant” (Q), “bursting with ideas” (Pitchfork) and “gloriously, unpredictably new” (Mojo). By December it had been shortlisted for the Mercury Prize and named one of the albums of the year by Rolling Stone and NME. They became known from their electric live performances full of energy, and went on to play memorable shows at festivals across the globe including as Glastonbury and Fuji Rock.
The much-anticipated first single from Born Under Saturn, First Light, was released on January 12th 2015. It was announced that the critically acclaimed four-piece would play London’s Field Day Festival in June, plus two sold-out February warm-up shows in Leeds and Edinburgh.
It was when Django Django were playing Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations on the final day of 2013 that producer and drummer Dave Maclean realised how far his band had come since releasing their self-titled debut album almost two years earlier.
“We made what, at the time, I thought would be an obscure bedroom record and ended up playing to 60,000 people on Princes Street,” says Dave. “Every month we kept saying we were going to stop touring but the album kept growing.”
Born Under Saturn is the work of a band fired up by confidence and experience and propelled way beyond their DIY roots. It has all of the imagination of their debut self-titled album but splashed across a larger canvas. “Once we got into the studio it became obvious it would be a bigger-sounding record,” says bassist Jim Dixon.
“When we were writing the lyrics there were lots of references to rebirth, turning a new page and starting something again,” says drummer and producer Dave Maclean. “I guess that’s something we all felt.”
Like before, Django Django are blessedly oblivious to genre rules. “A lot of it has to do with growing up being more into mixtapes than albums,” Dave says. “I think that sensibility comes through. Since I was a kid I’ve always tried to see the connections and threads through music.”
Recorded at Netil House in east London and Angelic Studios in Banbury, Born Under Saturn saw the song writing split four ways with Dave also producing the record. Lyrics often emerged naturally from the sound of the music. There are dark dramas like Found You, which draws on the myth of Faust’s deal with the devil, and Shot Down, a bloody tale of crime and betrayal. Jim wrote the sighingly beautiful Beginning to Fade while contemplating writer’s block and the atmospheric, synth-driven High Moon, says Dave, is about people who “come alive at night”.
Dave, Jim, guitarist Vinnie Neff and keyboardist Tommy Grace — met at art school in Edinburgh and released their first single, after moving to east London, in 2009. They took their time evolving a uniquely open-minded sound in which every influence is welcome but nothing sounds cluttered or forced. “We don’t stop ourselves going in any direction because we’ve all got very individual styles so it always ends up sounding like us.” Says Vinnie.
Since the last record, the band have also embraced other creative opportunities, Dave travelled to Mali with Damon Albarn’s Africa Express, and Dave and Tommy worked on the score for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of John Webster’s bloodthirsty Jacobean tragedy The White Devil. The band created a song for the film Slow West which recently won the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film. The film was written and directed by Dave’s brother John Maclean. Dave established his own label, Kick and Clap, named after the club night he launched when he first moved to Dalston and Vinnie and Jim collaborated with award-winning artist Haroon Mirza at Stromboli Arts Festival last summer, at the foot of the island’s volcano.
After all this activity they were hungry to make album number two. “We built up momentum more than expectation,” says Dave. “We were keen to get back to making music. Going from a lo-fi bedroom record, sitting in your flat in your pjyamas, to playing to huge crowds, you learn a lot.”
Born Under Saturn expands on the slippery, indefinable brilliance of the debut, finding magic in the unexplored spaces between different kinds of music, and never doing the same thing twice.
“We thought we’d sell to little pockets of people and set up our own live shows in art spaces,” says Dave. “We never thought it would end up the way it did. Once that happens, you have to keep pushing. You can’t sit still.”