Junglehussi on returning to clubs, juggling jobs and Riverside Festival
Glasgow-based DJ, artist and photographer Junglehussi tells us about his musical journey ahead of his set at Riverside Festival this weekend
After nearly 18 months of closed doors and empty dancefloors, nightclubs were finally allowed to reopen in Scotland last month, with many taking the opportunity to showcase local talent throughout their reopening weekends.
During La Cheetah Club’s mammoth four-day reopening weekend, South London-born, Glasgow-based DJ Matthew Arthur Williams – aka Junglehussi – was one of those local talents returning to the DJ booth for a non-socially distanced club night for the first time since clubs closed in March last year. “Mentally you're a bit like, 'Oh, can I do this again?' – especially right now,” says Williams. “And there's a lot of barriers that you have, not just playing music but with your own health and safety, and with other people's health and safety now as well.”
Having moved to Glasgow eight years ago with the intention of completing a Masters degree, Williams’ DJing career began entirely through circumstance. As an avid record collector, Williams was asked by a friend to play some music at a Pride event and things snowballed from there. Then, in 2016, Williams became a resident at The Art School’s flagship Thursday night party, PVC. Just a few years later Williams was playing at The Art School “at least twice a month,” he says, along with being booked to play at various other venues around Glasgow.
Despite going to clubs like fabric and Ministry of Sound while living in London, though, it was during Williams’ time studying in Manchester where his love of clubbing properly began. “Parties and music stuff really started to come alive for me when I was in Manchester… then I began kind of cornering my own community of people who were going out and also putting on parties,” says Williams. “That really opened a lot of things for me, I think, in terms of just being somebody who goes to parties.”
Williams would regularly attend celebrated queer parties like Bollox and Homoelectric in Manchester at the venue then known as Legends, which was sadly demolished in 2013 and replaced by a hotel – a far too common trend for nightclubs in recent years. The venue was originally opened as The Twisted Wheel in 1963 and is steeped in musical history, known as the birthplace of Northern Soul in the UK. “[Legends] was one of the best venues I've ever been in,” says Williams. “I think the venue really shaped those nights for me.
“I think when you go into somewhere like that, and you go down the steps and you're underneath, and it's just got all these different kind of layers and rooms you can enter where you've got multiple DJs playing in different rooms, the sound doesn't really cross over but the atmosphere is just keeping you there for five, six hours each night… They really shaped a lot of my early club days and party days.”
Music isn’t Williams’ only creative outlet, though. As well as DJing and hosting a bi-monthly radio show on Clyde Built Radio, Williams is also an artist and photographer, spreading his time equally across all fields. “It's been pretty constant in a creative way [throughout the pandemic]... so a lot of things have been moving in different angles and different ways,” says Williams. “I kind of allow things to organically happen, so occasionally something will calm down within the art side of my working week, and there'll be time for music.
“The same thing has happened this year,” he continues. “It was quite hectic art-wise the past couple of months and it's kind of calming down, now the gig stuff is starting to come up. I've not orchestrated that, that's just the way that things have orchestrated for me, so it's just taking it as it comes and not really forcing it.”
It’s through Williams’ involvement with Clyde Built Radio that he has landed a slot at this year’s Riverside Festival, too, sharing the stage with a whole host of local talent, including TAAHLIAH, Ribeka, Sofay and many more. Although lined up to close the stage on Friday night, Williams is reluctant to call it a headline set. “It's funny... people keep saying I'm headlining; I'm just like, 'Oh, I'm on last',” Williams laughs.
“Everybody that's on that stage is a headlining act to be honest... I feel like every musician and DJ in Glasgow – and people who do shows on Clyde Built – are all incredibly talented, and the city has such a number of really amazing DJs... so it's interesting but I'm not really seeing it as a headliner. If people have the stamina at the end of the evening then that's great but we'll see.”