The Other Voices festival takes place in Dingle this weekend. Ed Power looks ahead.
SEVERAL months ago, cult pop band Django Django came scarily close to an ‘Islands In The Stream’ moment.
The idea was for Derry-born lead singer Vincent Neff to duet with Rebecca Taylor of kindred underground rockers Slow Club (incidentally, Daniel Radcliffe’s favourite group).
But the results turned out to be phantasmagorically cheesy — the indie disco equivalent of Dolly Parton locking eyes with Kenny Rogers under a twinkling mirrorball.
“It sounded… weird,” says the amiable Neff. “There was that Dolly Parton thing going on. It was quite clear it wasn’t working.”
The obvious solution would have been to thank Taylor for her time and have Neff, whose jittery vocals are a Django Django signature, perform ‘Surface To Air’ on his own.
Instead it was decided to do something more radical. They had their guest take over.
“Hopefully it will surprise the audience,” says Neff. “People may think they have a good idea what we sound like. If they hear this on the radio, they might not even think it’s us.”
Irish fans have an opportunity to become reacquainted with Django Django’s wide-eyed pop when the four-piece perform at the Other Voices festival in Dingle this weekend, sharing the bill with Perfume Genius, Lankum and other up and comers. The Dingle visit precedes their long-anticipated third album, Marble Skies.
It is the follow-up to 2015’s Born Under Saturn, a top 20 hit in the UK that confirmed Neff and his bandmates as among the most thrilling young ensembles on the circuit.
Four friends who met while studying at college in Edinburgh, Django Django, had sprung from the traps, seemingly fully formed, with 2012 single ‘Default’.
Even if you can’t tell your Smiths from your Smashing Pumpkins, you are likely to have encountered the thrillingly skittish tune, as featured in numerous TV montages and commercials (including one for the Google Pixel phone).
‘Default’ was a smash, as was the self-titled LP that followed. But the speed of their ascent eventually took a toll. Django Django hit a wall, in particular, recording Born Under Saturn — a textbook case of a band confounded by all the possibilities offered by unexpected success.
Given the freedom of a posh studio — their debut had been cobbled together on the fly — they came to understand too much choice can be as damaging as too little.
So while Saturn ticked the boxes commercially, nobody in the ranks was 100% satisfied with it. They’d thrown everything into the mix, leading to a record that, for all its sound and fury, didn’t necessarily signify a great deal of significance.
“We put everything into the pot,” says Neff. “With a second record you have to relearn a lot of what you are doing. Circumstances have changed. It’s like you are starting over.”
With Marble Skies, due in January, they were careful not to commit the same errors again. “We were a bit more reluctant to take prisoners as it were. It’s more pared down — the edit was a lot more ruthless.”
They will road test new material in Dingle this weekend, where a lucky select audience will see them performance at St James’s Church.
Alternative rock does not always translate into the hushed acoustic setting that is the festival’s forte. Neff is confident the band can thrive in the novel environment.
“I’ve always associated Other Voices with paring things back,” he says . “We’ve done quite a bit of that in the United States and it can be extremely educational. It is surprising what you learn.
“With some of the stuff in the US or on the Continent, you occasionally think, ‘oh why do we agree to do this?’ Then you go and do it and it proves really exciting and informative.”
* Other Voices runs from today to Sunday in Dingle. Performance times available here
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