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Django Django, the four-piece based in London, are definitely one of the most important debuts of the year. And enigmatic they are. Countless flocks of music journalists have been trying to describe their style, often in a clumsy and/or desperate way. The name itself is another agent that immediately grasps your attention and leaves you unsatisfied until you finally know what it means. I spent long hours trying to find the right answer on numerous websites only to be left even more puzzled. Not that I haven’t found what I’ve been looking for. The only problem is that there’s at least three different versions of the story. Is it in honour of the Belgian jazz musician Django Reinhardt? Is it for his stammering teacher who couldn’t pronounce his name? All of those stories bring a smile on Jimmy Dixon’s face. The bassist of the quartet informs me that the band got their name after… a character from spaghetti westerns. “We were looking for a name and Dave had a record called Son of Django. We’re big fans of dancehall and reggae and we’re obsessed with old spaghetti westerns”. Indescribable genre, interesting story behind the name… “You’re very mysterious” I suggest. “Mysterious or confusing” laughs Jimmy.
On the 25th of October the band came back to Scotland, where the members had met, to give one of their biggest gigs yet to date in the Glasgow’s O2 ABC. Four musicians made sure that the audience enjoyed themselves making their sixty minute set a night to remember. As the band do not like getting bored, they played many of the songs in new arrangements. They’ve also incorporated an interesting choice of instruments to the stage such as a card box or a halved coconut shell. During the Glasgow show Django Django proved to be capable of creating an amazing bound with their audience; the vocalist Vincent Neff was constantly chatting to the fans from and the whole band seemed to be having great fun playing to the Scottish crowd. Seeing the group at their happiest and hearing the likes of “Hail Bop” or “Default” made it was quite difficult to stop your feet from moving.
Before the Djangos got on stage we caught up with Jimmy Dixon to chat about the record, the tour and his favourite music.
music is: You guys met in Art School in Edinburgh, is that correct?
Jimmy: Well, Tommy, Dave and Vinny were all in Edinburgh but I was in Glasgow. Dave and Tommy used to visit quite a lot. I used to see them in exhibitions and stuff like that. Vinny studied architecture and the rest of us did painting. So yeah, we all knew each other in Scotland but it wasn’t until we moved down to London that we got back in touch with each other and started doing Django.
music is: How come you’ve decided to abandon art and start doing music?
Jimmy: It’s not something that we have abandoned. We still do all the artwork like posters and sleeves. We’re still really involved in the static process of the band. When I was in Glasgow we were always playing in bands as well as making art so the two things kind of ended up going hand in hand anyway. But it didn’t really feel that we were breaking away from it. Vinny was working as an architect so he was the only one of us that had to quit his job and just go on the band full time. I was just working in a bookshop, Tommy was doing some graphic design and Dave was working in a pub. It probably felt like the right time to do something, you know.
music is: So you’re still doing art then?
Jimmy: We’re all still doing stuff. It’s mainly that what we’re doing with Django takes up most of our time. We’re not making artwork as much as we would but it’s just being replaced by something else.
music is: Time for a question about your style. I know you get it a lot. Yesterday I was listening to the album again. I was trying to describe it which turned out to be really difficult. I didn’t get much further than deciding that the first song sounds like some kind of a ‚cosmic jungle’ track. Have you already decided how to describe your genre?
Jimmy: No, not really. It’s always quite fun hearing what people have come up with as long as it’s not like art rock pop or electronic indie. We’ve had some great ones. Yours is a good one. We’ve had polyphonic rockabilly with a Japanese girl who was interviewing us… Tramp rock, I think, or cosmic tramp rock too… I don’t know. It’s just fun letting all the people decide. I suppose that’s what journalists do. They have to try and come up with few words that describe it.
music is: I guess you can’t really describe music, can you?
Jimmy: Yeah, it’s difficult. We never really knew how it was gonna sound like anyway so it’s not like we sat down and went “Oh, we’re gonna do a record that sounds like this or that’. It just happened.
music is: That’s great because people need to think about it. Your debut album got loads of good reviews and you’ve recently been given a Q award for the Best New Act. Didn’t the whole attention around you feel scary at the beginning?
Jimmy: We’d spent probably two years writing songs and recording them. Then there was a couple of setbacks with the release of the album so it ended up coming out later then we thought it would. We were all just really happy to get it out. We didn’t have any expectations to be honest. It’s been totally amazing but I guess you have that “Right, now we have to step it up another level” voice in your head. But we’re all really keen on doing that. Especially with the live stuff we’d been working on. We want to make it sound better, alter it and just make it more exciting.
music is: You brought up the fact that you were writing the album for quite a long time…
Jimmy: We put our first single out literally a couple of months after we’d formed as a proper band. Usually bands take a single, or couple of singles from the album but we did only one song. I suppose people saw us from day one. We were writing, got five or six songs, we started gigging. Then we had to write more. I guess it took probably the same amount of time that any new band. It’s just because we had a single out that people were expecting us to follow straight away with an album.
music is: Was it stressful for you?
Jimmy: No, not really. We were surprisingly fine, I think. We didn’t really think we had to rush an album out. We just wanted to take our time and record something that we’d be really happy with. It wasn’t stressful at all. It was loads of fun. We didn’t have any money so we recorded it on Dave’s computer in his bedroom.
music is: From what I’ve gathered you must have had loads of fun. You used Yellow Pages book as drums on one of the track, didn’t you?
Jimmy: We did. I think it was on “Firewater” or “Love’s Dart” maybe.
music is; Did you use any other experimental “instruments”?
Jimmy: There were deodorant cans, mic’es in wine bottles and God knows what else. Dave didn’t really have a drum kit so he was just mic’ing things up. It’s basicaly something that you hit and it makes a noise. You can hit anything. So we just messed around and when we found something that made a nice sound we used it.
music is: Lately you’ve been busy on tour. What’s been your highlight so far?
Jimmy: We’ve had loads. We were in Australia and Japan over the summer which was totally amazing. We’ve just come back from a great tour around America. We’ve had two shows in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Canada as well. There was this festival in Corsica in the summer. We thought that we were gonna wake up and realise that we were dreaming. It was just perfect! The festival was on the island, beautiful sea, beautiful weather… Totally amazing! We’d played at T in the Park the day before. It was raining all the time. The weather was horrible. It seemed like Armageddon: people covered in mud, looking really pissed off… And we just went on a plane to Corsica.
music is: You mentioned America. Your debut album was released there only a month ago. How was it to actually go and start over again?
Jimmy: It was great. We’d played a little show in New York before. It was a small venue and it sold out. People were really excited. It felt like they were already aware of the album. It’s difficult to know though because America is such a huge place. We did five shows and they were all amazing. It’s just great going over, getting to travel about, spending time in New York…
music is: What was your favourite place in America?
Jimmy: I’d really like to go back to San Francisco. We spent maybe six hours there before the show. We got there, loaded the stuff and played and then went to a hotel. It looked like a totally amazing city, really interesting place. And we’d just got there from LA which is huge. Me and Dave went for a walk there along the street, we didn’t see anyone else for like a mile, everyone drives there. We saw maybe two shops. And then we got to the really condensed and vibrant San Francisco. There’s also New York. Every time I go there I’m just totally amazed by it.
music is: Every day you put an album of the day on your facebook page. Is there one record you couldn’t live without?
Jimmy: (Unhesitatingly)I couldn’t live without the Stone Roses’ first album. I grew up with it. I just listent to it every day when I was like fifteen.
music is: It’s difficult to pick just one, isn’t it?
Jimmy: Exactly. I would pick Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” as well. There’s probably about a hundred albums that I couldn’t live without. I’d say that the one I’d go for first would be The Stone Roses. My sister, who’s a bit older than me, used to go to their early shows and she was a massive fan. I remember listening to them when I was eight or nine and totally loving it. I just listent pretty much to Stone Roses constantly for like two or three years. I know, a bit obsessive.