Introducing the four girls warming up the pop-rave airwaves this summer: Neon Jungle
Bouncy, RCA-signed girl band Neon Jungle recently went on a group bonding exercise to see Beyoncé at the O2. They came out screaming, (they claim) stronger, and inspired by her ability to enthral a room of 18,000. “She’s still growing and every time I see her she gets better and better,” gushes Amira McCartny, one fourth of the group. “Everyone was happy. Everyone had a smile on their face. Some people were crying – but happy-tears. She gives you conviction. She’s so, so relatable, and I really hope that we can connect to people just the way she does.”
Neon Jungle – a self-confessed manufactured girl group, whose members hail from across the UK – are the first to admit they’re an unlikely match. “We wouldn’t be generically place together,” explains a blonde afro-d Jess Plummer. “If we were on the X Factor, they wouldn’t think to put us together.”
If debut single “Trouble”, penned by serial hitsmith CocknBullKid, was the riotous girls-next-door banger aimed at a prime time Radio 1 pop crowd, their follow-up, the January- released “Braveheart”, raised the bar that bit further, meshing gutteral low end bass throbs with arching falsettos. “We want to show people our diversity – what we’re all into,” Plummer says. “… and that we’re not just about headache-y, high-energy dance music”.
“Since ‘Braveheart’, a lot has happened, and I feel like we’ve learned a lot about who we are,” Neon’s Mira Mcarthey adds, going on to hint at the variety of genres tapped into on their forthcoming debut album. “We’re here to stay!”, quips Shereen Cutkelvin – the group’s soft-spoken, Motown-era Diana Ross (think: smoke ‘n’ whisky vocals and midnight soul searching..) “We’re here with open arms, and we don’t want to be those cool, ignorant kids at school. We ain’t the cool kids… We’re the dorks”.
Plummer, 21, was spotted while waiting for a bus with her sister on Brick Lane. Apparently, she was told she had an “aura” about her—and that’s believable. “Music is everything to me,” she says. “But I never thought that I was good enough to make a career of it”. Indeed, much like Sugababes MK1, a large part of Neon Jungle’s appeal is the their fragile modesty. Her sullen mood is shaken off when 18-year-old, Ipswich-born Asami Zdrenka chips in about her taste in vocal style: “I’m
into the raspiness of the male voice,” she says of her love of Foo Fighters and female vocalists like Alanis Morissette. (Though when her guard’s down, Zdrenka let her crippling 1D infatuation slip…). McCarthy, still only 17 like Cutkelvin (the pair bemoan to Wonderland that they still have to sign parental guidance forms before playing shows) was scouted by the label out in Westfield Shopping Centre in west London, and despite her age, she’s probably the group’s loudest and most confident troubadour. “I’m always that annoying kid on the stage”, she says, decalring her love for reggae and brash, dancehall hyoe girls.
The girls reportedly “just clicked” when they were introduced back in February 2013 – and they now share a flat in London. “We missed out the ‘just friends’ stage and turned straight into a family,” claims Asami. “The first time we met properly, we stayed at Jess’ flat and went out for dinner – all just telling each other our deepest, darkest secrets.” Mira adds. “It’s one of those things where you kind of learn to love people that you’re with all the time… We didn’t have a choice. And we’re stuck now.”
From top to bottom: Amira wears black and white mixed wool coat by MOSCHINO pre fall. Jess wears navy and black long cinch bandeau silk dress by CHRISTOPHER KANE pre fall, and black leather and shearling gloves by MARNI pre fall. Shereen wears pink and blue silk polka dot shirt and pink silk duchesse skirt both by GILES DEACON pre fall, and brown leather boots by MCQ pre fall. Asami wears white organza bolero and blue denim dress both by CHANEL.
Words: Huw Oliver
Photographer: Alastair Strong
Fashion Editor: Harry Lambert