The Albums of 2012 (#2): Django Django – Django Django (Because Music)

From relative obscurity to lauded Mercury Prize nominees – via the unconventional route of FIFA International Soccer – Dave Maclean of Django Django looks back on his band’s whirlwind year

Feature by Darren Carle | 06 Dec 2012

For a nation perceived as being scabrous, angry and dour, Scotland has provided more than its fair share of upbeat, psychedelic, wonk-pop bands over the years. From the troubadour experimentations of Alex Harvey right through to the more recent sonic adventures of FOUND or The Phantom Band, there’s certainly something of a rich tapestry threaded throughout the more common perception of the perpetually miserable Scottish musical landscape.

Enter Django Django then, a quartet of one-time Edinburgh art students who had been bubbling under the local scene for some time when their eponymous debut album finally landed this year. Flowing with pulsing electro stabs, woozy, dustbowl guitar flourishes and soaring melodic harmonies, it’s a record as inventive as it is invigorating, adding to our notable lineage of experimental pop exponents.

It’s of little surprise then that it floated our particular boat, but what few predicted was how well it would be received by the wider world. Cited as ‘next-big-thing, media-darlings’ across much of the alternative music press, the juggernaut of hype eventually culminated with a richly-deserved, if somewhat surprising, Mercury nomination. They of course lost out to Alt-J but the prestige and exposure was victory enough for the hitherto unknown group of friends. 

“To be honest, we’ve not really noticed anything,” claims drummer and producer Dave Maclean of the increased media spotlight. “Most of the press was done when the LP came out and we’ve been a band on the road since, so it’s not seemed too crazy for us lately.” To add to the plaudits, we inform Dave that Django Django is our second favourite album of the year. “Thank you The Skinny! We'd been away for a bit so we weren't sure if anyone would care, but all the great reviews and award nominations make us feel like it’s all been worthwhile.”

Another notable aspect of the band’s meteoric rise, and perhaps a sign of the times, is the exposure they’ve received from more unconventional outlets. Keen-eared fans will have no doubt heard the likes of Hail Bop and Default sound-tracking various TV spots whilst Firewater was used in the film Rust and Bone. “TV is a funny one because more often than not you don't get asked or paid,” says Dave. “So people might think we’re whoring ourselves to the box for a splash o' cash, but it's really out of our control.”

They are, however, not averse to keeping the band afloat when the right deal does come along. “We did a FIFA game recently because we're all fans of the series,” admits Dave. “Since Hail Bop got used, the YouTube comments are all FIFA chat, which is funny. It's cool to be discovered through fans of the game who otherwise might never have come across us.”

It’s this progressive attitude, which characterises their debut album, that has helped engender the group to both the guarded musical intelligentsia and the ‘common’ music fan. Wherever you lay your hat though, Django Django were undoubtedly a musical highlight of the year, and much like the album’s cover, a strange, unidentifiable but beautiful creature in a sometimes barren musical landscape.