The world of conceptual music is often reserved for high budgets of established artists, searching for inspiration after releasing a number of albums. Jadu Heart, however, are testament to how a DIY act can take an in-depth concept and deliver it in a way that is both meticulously thought-out and charmingly lo-fi.
“It’s basically the story of two characters – Dina & Faro – who get cursed in a temple,” Diva explains. “Every song in our first EP corresponds to a different chapter in their story.”
That first Jadu Heart EP, “Wanderflower”, was the result of a university project in 2016, in which Alex and Diva were assigned the task of audibly depicting a ‘cycle’, whilst studying at The British and Irish Modern Music Institute.
“Our tutor sent the recording to Mura Masa.” Alex clarifies, “she’s an artist called Saint Saviour. She knows Mura Masa through his manager, who is now our manager.”
Mura Masa immediately took to the duo’s sound; a vast hybrid of dreamy melodies, icy synths and slacker bedroom pop, and Jadu were soon performing as a supporting artist at his album launch show.
Alex hails from the north of England, and grew up on a traditional diet of indie and rock bands, before discovering electronic music. “As I got older and discovered raves, I became obsessed with Flume and Mount Kimbie. I got so deep into electronic music that I disliked almost any song with a vocal.”
“I think we’ve come full circle.” Diva reflects, “Now we really love making full songs”, with the duo frequently drawing comparisons to the likes of Little Dragon and Jai Paul.
From the inception of the project, Jadu Heart have donned masks for all performances and press appearances, admirably sticking to this stylistic commitment, three years later.
“It’s sometimes hard for people to understand the masks.” Alex explains, “We aren’t using them to protect our identity, we are kind of using them in the way that tribes used them. I guess it’s theatrical; it gets you into the story.”
Diva continues to unravel the story of their alter-egos, Faro & Dina: “The actual EP was like a tenth of the overall project. We had names for all of the different creatures, all the different planets; we were even talking about their intergalactic passports.”
As the project crept more into public consciousness, it became clear that this attention to detail was going to be called upon – as Jadu Heart began to build the foundations for a future in music. Alex, AKA Faro, recalls the band’s transition into recognised artists. “As we finished uni, we saw things picking up and thought ‘Shit, there’s an opportunity to have a career here, and it’s all centred around this story that we made up when we were drunk’ – our jobs are now based upon these weird chats that we had in university, which is amazing.”
And the weird chats didn’t end there. Jadu’s forthcoming record sees Dina & Faro leaving their fictional world in the past, via a wormhole that leads directly to a toilet in Alex & Diva’s native Camden, allowing the characters to enter the real world and take on an identity that is more aligned with that of the two songwriters.
Despite the group’s commitment to the narrative – reminiscent of the prog era of rock n roll – Alex insists that the whimsical storyline isn’t the full sum of the endeavour. “No matter how in depth the concept is, the music has to speak for itself, then fans can look into the story themselves and discover more.”
Feedback from peers and fans alike would infer that the sonic output stands up without the theatrical embellishment, with Guy Sigsworth – who has previously worked with Björk, Madonna and Britney – reaching out to Jadu to co-produce the album, which will be released later this year. This marks a more professional evolution to the duo’s usual recording process: “His sound is very clean, which is amazing, but we like it slightly muddier. Guy would show us the amazing stuff he’s done in the studio and we just had to keep asking him to make it a bit shitter”.