JUNG PEOPLE: A Band With Message


Calgary’s JUNG PEOPLE are a band with a message. On top of some of the most eclectic and organic-sounding post rock you’re bound to hear, they have  a genuine interest in exploring the possibility of a better tomorrow, and this optimism is something that integrates itself beautifully into their music. Having missed out on seeing them the year before, it was great to hear this duo play live. Although they are only two, they give the impression of a full band. With some high key gigs and another album due in the coming year, JUNG PEOPLE are a band to keep an eye out for.

Conor: Introduce yourselves!

Jordan: Jordan from JUNG PEOPLE.

Bryan: Bryan from JUNG PEOPLE!

Conor: And how would you describe your sound?

Jordan: I would describe it as an evolution of alot of different genres of music, dating back from punk rock to metal to prog, prog metal… All the way back to everything; growing up with alot of music and prog; it’s a combination of everything. It’s music that usually has a message to it, usually about humanitarian rights, animal rights, a message that was kept alive in the 60′s and 70′s but has lost its way nowadays. We want to give some sort of feeling that’s hard to describe, and it makes it hard for us to describe!

Conor: Where did your name come from? Somehow I get the very distinct impression it might have something to do with (the psychologist) Carl Jung!

Jordan: It definitely does! Carl Jung always had a forward-thinking ideal to him and a message underneath all his research. We had the idea of people- JUNG PEOPLE- as the future but they are also forward-thinking. We are all Carl Jung’s people, in a weird way. Also, it’s got the phonics pun! People will say, oh, “Young” People, and you have to tell them; “Well, no. It’s J-U-N-G.” [Laughs] You get alot of eyebrows when you say that, and you get people interested. It touches upon the idea of youth and the fact that we are faced with so many distractions thrown in our faces daily; a young person lives closer to the essence of life, a young person lives more ‘Jungian’. Also, young people are more radical. I read a statistic that said that 98% of all religious crimes are caused by young people- I thought that’s kind of interesting. We’re doing so many things, causing so many changes, and if we’re capable of those things, maybe we could cause the opposite- a better way.

Conor: You definitely have an amalgamation of different styles working in your sound, but you’re usually labelled as a Post Rock band. Is that fair to say?

Jordan: We’ve always had alot of trouble with that- since we listen to so much music and we’ve always had a resentment towards genres and labels, we like people to call us whatever they want when they hear us play. As for influences, Post Rock’s a huge influence, so we’re not offended. It’s kind of an honour! Same with prog rock. Classified under a genre that many of our biggest influences are under.

Conor: Any bands that influenced you in particular?

Jordan: For sure! Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a huge one; Canadian and also very political. Big ones for prog would be King Crimson, Pink Floyd- that’s a big one. Old Genesis, Yes, Van der Graaf Generator… Alot of huge influences from my dad and family and stuff. Even newer stuff like Cynic or Dream Theater. Oceansize are also a huge influence, possibly the most underrated band I think I know of.

Conor: Especially on “Tenterhooks” which I heard last night- damned fine album! It’s definitely taking the humanitarian perspective to the forefront; even though it’s instrumental, you’re still conveying this rich message; the voice of the animals. Do you think this ‘message’ is an integral part of the JUNG PEOPLE experience, or is it possible to get just as much out of the music without the context or politics?

Jordan: One thing for sure is that both of us are really emotionally involved when it comes to our messages- we can feel alot of depression from the problems of the world and are affected by it. When we write music, it’s not really like we’re in that zone, but it’s always a part of it; a part of us. Watching documentaries, always learning; it’s a huge influence on our souls. At the same time, we want these hopes to become the future, so alot of our music is very melodic and happy rather than dark. We’re not trying to capture the horror like alot of documentaries do, but rather ‘what could be’, you know? For years and years we wrote depressing music, we were in a prog metal outfit for a few years…

Conor: What were you called?

Jordan: Octillian. We were doing the other end of the spectrum. Even though JUNG PEOPLE is super melodic, it’s almost melancholy or making fun of the fact at times that it’s so melodic. I think that’s something that happened naturally.

Bryan: And also the beauty of being instrumental is that people can create their own ideas and feelings to the music. We have our ideas, but if people start feeling things on their own, then we’re very open to that and encourage that as well.

Conor: That’s very true for my favourite ever Post Rock album; Explosions in the Sky’s “The Earth is not a Cold, Dead Place”- even though it’s instrumental, I’m able to see entire stories in my head just with the music and song titles. On that note, because it’s instrumental, I was wondering how you choose song titles for your songs? Some of them have some pretty abstract-sounding names to them. Do you already have an idea in your head of what you want to write about, or do you come up with the titles after the piece is finished?

Bryan: It’s definitely a mix, I’d say. The new album we have plans for is the opposite of what “Tenterhooks” was. Those songs came before the song ideas and titles had been come up with. Even on the new album it’s like that, but the idea came before the music. It’s called “Gullinbursti” which is Norse for “Gold Bristle”, and it’s about the only time a pig or boar’s ever been looked up upon, as opposed to a world where bacon is such a necessity to everyone.

Conor: Bacon’s overrated.

Bryan: [Laughs] Yeah! Or swine in “Animal Farm”; pigs are always looked down upon as the bad guy… There’s this one instance where a golden boar is looked up upon, and that really inspired us. Alot of the album’s going to be influenced by Canada and old, old tales of animals that were praised.

Jordan: The pig is the ultimate form of that, because in our culture, it’s looked at as bacon or the ‘rich business man’- a ‘pig baastard’. Even in other cultures- in Islam, they won’t eat it because they see it as a filthy animal. Scientifically, it’s one of the cleanest, smartest, and closest genetically to us. It’s a very interesting animal to us, and we want to have a different message. We want the album to be about that.

Bryan: It’s going to be a conceptual album too, where it will be in four parts- flowing like a total classic prog album. We’re actually performing all new material tonight!

Conor: You know Kenny Hotz from Kenny vs. Spenny right?

Bryan: Yeah!

Conor: He has a new show called “Triumph of the Will” and he had an episode where he wanted to stop eating pork so he lived among the pigs… They’re really interesting animals; apparently the third or fourth most intelligent animal ever.

Bryan: For sure, it’s very true. One really interesting thing about them is that they can become feral instantly. Even growing up domestically at a farm, if it escapes it can find food and shelter by nature. It’s one of the few animals that can do that… Unlike a dog- if a dog escapes, it’s lost. But a pig knows, and that’s something science cannot fully understand. We wanted to convey our message from the opposite end of the spectrum. “Tenterhooks” was dedicated mostly to domestic animals- any animals that live in tenterhooks; a constant state of anxiety or fear. That’s the dog with its tail down. The album artwork was stolen…

Jordan: It wasn’t stolen! Bryan doesn’t have a good memory. [Laughs] He forgot that I actually hunted down the rights for it, it was painted in the 1800′s and I got the great granddaughter of the artist’s phone number. Her father was the first person to publish my favourite author.

Conor: Which author?

Jordan: Kurt Vonnegut!

Conor: My favourite author too!

Jordan: There you go! If you look at our t-shirts, you’ll see alot of Vonnegut quotes and writing. There’s alot of Kurt Vonnegut in our artwork.

Bryan: Even on “Tenterhooks” on the physical packaging- it says ‘what are people for?’ and ‘everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.’ That’s on all of our albums.

Jordan: Even our first album “Galapagos” is based off of Vonnegut. Even in the musical influences, we do what alot of bands do- taking our favourite artists and things from them and mashing it up into something new. Especially on “Tenterhooks”, there might be a punk rock riff next to an odd time signature prog riff. Same with the artwork- we collage our influences. A ton of literary influences, we try to fill our music up. There’s going to be alot of hidden things on the next album.

Conor: Satanic messages?

Jordan: [Laughs]

Conor: On top of the literary influence, I get alot of cinematic energy from your music…

Bryan: We’re working on a film score right now actually.

Conor: Really!

Bryan: One of the trailers is already available online- it’s called “Transcendence”. The other one is called “Hyperion”. We wrote music for both of the trailers, they’re both in pre-production right now. Filmed in Calgary, fully funded through venture capitalists. Black and white sci-fi, it’s going to be a cool piece of art for our community.

Conor: Probably my favourite thing about JUNG PEOPLE is that the ‘live sound’ and organic quality really translates onto the recording. I guess the live show will be even better!

Bryan: The first album was done live! The second one was overdubbed a bit.

Jordan: They’re both recorded in the same place- in my dad’s basement. They have a similar feeling to them, we definitely try to convey that.

Conor: Even the last album sounded like it was being played in a small venue, even though there was the added complexity to it. Was it difficult to get that across?

Jordan: It wasn’t, but it took some time to experiment with all the possible sounds. We basically locked ourselves in my dad’s house for three days and did nothing but record music, eat food and sleep. It was a big process and it got really frustrating but at other times it was really interesting and creative; alot of things changed in the music.

Bryan: It was all about renting as much equipment as we could, borrowing equipment, and getting the best sound we could on a reasonable budget. We had very little money; hopefully for the next album we’ll have more of a studio take on things, we don’t want to overdub a ton- we’ll do some minimal overlayers- but we want to stay at the root. We’d love to rent out a studio or something, maybe get a government grant.

Conor: I think the Australian metal band Ne Obliviscaris had their new album funded by the government!

Jordan: That would be great! For so many albums, you see credits saying “Supported by Canadian government”. There’s fairly few places that give out that kind of support- if you’re an indie rock band you have a pretty good shot, but as a metal band that’s pretty impressive. Metal’s such a huge thing- even in Calgary it’s such a big part of the music culture. It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t get the same support and acceptance as other styles.

Conor: As a progressive-inclined band, is it restrictive at all to have only two members, or do you find it comfortable?

Jordan: I think we felt that way at the start for sure, but I think we’ve found our way around alot of that. When we started we didn’t want to be one of those looping bands, we want to perform everything ourselves, and at this point I don’t think we see it any other way.

Bryan: We tend to double up on instruments. Sometimes if Jordan isn’t playing drums, he will be using the keyboard. With the 8-string guitar I can do bass and regular guitar. There are times when I feel there could be more, but I think it works. Millions of people can enjoy a regular folk song where its just a guitar and voice.

Jordan: My dad said something really great; he said that Pink Floyd does it best because they know the value of the space in between notes. It’s always stuck with me; it’s not always what you put into it but what you leave out sometimes. I think the fact that we only have two people helps us approach things differently. There’s alot of different tricks we’ve come across along the way.

Conor: Would you ever consider having vocals in your music? Ever something you thought about?

Jordan: It’s always been at the back of the mind but at this point I think it would be best suited for a collaboration or something. As for JUNG PEOPLE, I think it will stay like this.

Bryan: We’ve played in different bands for the past ten years, and it always felt like a duo sort of. When we got back from music school we stuck to our vision. There were alot of times when we didn’t want to compromise with other people.

Conor: What advice would you give to other musicians, artists trying to become good at music or make a band, or even get their music out there and known?

Jordan: From my self-discoveries; you’re not a band to be big, you’re a band to be good. Even if you can’t make money from it, it’s good if you enjoy it. From experience from people who run the music industry, we don’t care anymore- we just want to play music. We won’t compromise- just be as true to yourself as possible.

Bryan: And don’t be afraid to evolve your sound with the way your change. People shouldn’t force themselves to stay prog or stay metal; that’s not how new stuff is made.

Conor: What’s in the future of JUNG PEOPLE?

Bryan: We’re playing SXSW in March, as well as Canadian Music Week the next day. We’re doing both back to back and a possible studio recording. For summer we’d like to tour Iceland and the United Kingdom, we want to see Iceland and the beautiful music that’s come from there. It’s so small, we could drive around in no time.

Jordan: The new album’s going to be great! It’s all about art, it’s all about expression. There’s no money to it really, all of it’s handmade.

Conor: Any last words? Favourite kind of cheeseburger?

Jordan: The Veggie burger from Montana’s, so good!

Bryan: I’d have to pick the Tubby dog in Calgary, vegan hot dog.

Jordan: What are people for, really? Such a good question.

Conor: Simple; to die and refertilize the soil!  [Laughs] Cheers!

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