Wonderland.

JADU HEART

The dream-pop duo on raves, alter-egos and toad-filled rooms.

Jadu Heart full length
Jadu Heart full length

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”.

Jadu Heart second close-up
Jadu Heart outdoors
Jadu Heart second close-up
Jadu Heart outdoors

Despite enlisting a big-name producer, a majority of the LP’s tracks have been recorded in Alex & Diva’s bedroom in North London, keeping the sound grounded and continuously touching base with Jadu’s self-produced releases, which embody a DIY romanticism. “People talk to us as if we’re sick producers.” Alex confesses, “But we just stick to one free studio application – it’s the only piece of kit that I know how to use!”

Another essential dimension to Dina & Faro’s world comes from the music videos that the couple release. 2017 single “I’m A Kid” shows Jadu’s first venture into multimedia, in a typically ambitious and eccentric project.
Diva explains, “Our manager said that we needed to make a music video, but we only had a budget of £50.”
“No it was £1000,” Alex interjects, ‘but we hadn’t been on holiday in ages, so we spent the budget on that.” “No, it was a £50 budget.” Alex submits. “Well OK then, but my story is cooler.”

She continues: “We had already saved for a trip to Bali and we ended up shooting the video ourselves over the trip.” The £50 budget was subsequently spent on fake swords, axes and blood to create an adventurous video that celebrates youth and compliments the songs in both narrative and juvenile spirit.
Diva looks sentimental, “It’s my favourite video of all time.” “Yeah I love it,” Alex agrees, “When we edited it, I was like ‘this is gonna win awards man!”

As the creators mature, their music videos and the group’s running narrative have evolved too in unison. The video for Jadu’s newest release, “Forgotten Ghosts”, tells a story of loneliness; following the isolated life of a horned protagonist living in metropolitan London. The 5-minute clip entwines surreal ideas with jaded themes in a creative excursion that mirrors the progression of Alex & Diva as songwriters.

Maturity, however, is a trait that both band members are happy to achieve in baby steps. “We’re filming the next music video sometime in the next month.” Alex divulges, “We don’t have much of a budget, so we’ve decided to just fill a room with toads… you can rent them. Our manager wanted us to hire a director or something, but were like, we’re going to go with the toads, it’ll be cool.”

With an ever more demanding schedule and a romantic relationship to preserve away from the stage, are masks enough to partition the professional and personal connection between Alex & Diva?

“I guess it is hard – separating the music life from home life.” Diva looks thoughtful, as if the pair had never considered how omnipresent they are in one another’s lives. “But when it’s 10 o’clock at night, I don’t want to be talking about an email we need to send to our accountant, so it works.”

Alex expands, “It takes it to the next level of how well two people can know each other. We are together every day, which is a beautiful thing but…” He tails off to look briefly at Diva. ‘’…Let’s just say it’s a beautiful thing, and leave it at that.” Diva laughs.

“The rewards are so good,” Alex concedes. “When it’s three in the morning and we’re drunk, we can talk about how we’ve just recorded an album together, or how we’ve just sold out a show together and there’s a sense of magic to it, which is so cool.”

With such a depth of backstory and dedication to a structured narrative, it is easy to forget that Jadu Heart are still in their infancy as a band, with just a 7-track EP and a string of singles in their discography. And with their brainchildren, Faro & Dina, having already made the transition from cursed temple to Camden toilet, nobody can argue that the project lacks ambition. Few acts are doing what Alex & Diva are doing and, as attractive visual aesthetics and social content only become more vital in music, the project will only get more exciting from here.

Words
Matt Ganfield
JADU HEART

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