The press release that came with jj no.3 described it as an album for Winter/Spring, as opposed to jj no.2, which it claimed was a Summer album. Is this something you agree with? And if so, was it your intention to distinguish them in this way, or was it just how the material ended up sounding?
“We had no intentions other than make a four seasons record. For life and for the whole year, if you listen to it in the winter it’s a winter record, listen to it in the summer, it’s a summer record, don’t you agree?”
You’ve spoke about how much The Tough Alliance have supported you so far – I suspect that means more than just putting out your music. There was speculation about your identity, and there must have been pressure on you to “come out” for a while before you actually revealed your identity. What was that process like?
“It was very natural, we developed our understanding of sharing in many ways, to really feel the importance of meeting people in different ways, expressing yourself in new channels. We found out for real that we were not alone.”
How is it now, having your faces and names out there? A relief, intrusive, or just weird?
“All of them, but only when I think about it, which I don’t really have time for.”
When you’ve spoke about live shows in the past, you’ve expressed a dissatisfaction with various facets of the live experience, such as the fact there’s “too often a gap between a person on stage and those watching it.” Your friends The Tough Alliance flip live shows by doing what’s not expected of them, i.e. lip-syncing, and you’ve also said jj have a “very clear vision” of how you’ll overcome the problems with live shows. What is that vision, and how far down the line do you think you are to achieving it?
“That vision is always developing in us, and around us. We still need time and we still need new air to come back with that vision, so now we’ll practise a bit more.
“I think we are so close, but still so far away from achieving what we feel inside.”
How were the recent shows with the xx? Were you already aware of their music when they got in touch?
“Very different, everyday was a new chance, a new romance or a new tragedy.
“No, we [hadn’t] heard them, so we said no at first, then we listened to their record and changed our minds. For that I’m very happy, meeting the xx, going to America and Canada was very important for my life.”
There’s a great sincerity to your music and lyrics – and being sincere, and real is another thing you seem to talk about in interviews. It’s something that could equally be said about The Tough Alliance and Lil Wayne – are there other musicians you feel inspired by in this department?
“Thank you for your kind words, it warms my heart. Yes, I feel Salem from Michigan share the same sincerity and will to be really real. To meet John in Texas made the whole US trip worthwhile.”
The Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] commentary sample in ‘Into the Light’ – what’s that from? His goal against Italy?
No, it’s from when Z scored those 2 goals against Parma in the last game of the season wich gave Internazionale the Scudetto. He had been injured for two months and hadn’t played at all. Inter had 0-0 and 30 minutes before the end he came in and showed everyone what he’s about. Magic. I was streaming the match on Arabic television. I cried of course. Too big of a moment to grasp, see for yourself.”
How do you see jj’s studio material developing/progressing in the future?
“I can feel it in my whole body, It has been creating itself while I’ve been away from the studio. Now all we have to do is challenge time. I can’t even think about it, it’s too strong, makes me cry, so all I do is work with it.”