Following the release of Everything Since Then we interview Denholm Harding of Just Jinjer to discuss their first full album release since 2006, their debut best selling rock album in South Africa, spirituality and their London travels.
Your debut album All Comes Around which was released 1997 is the best-selling rock album in South African history. It was also the album which introduced me to local rock music. How has the journey been since the release of that album?
It’s almost impossible to sum up 17 years in a few sentences, as you can imagine. We have been blessed with a lot of support and belief from all over the world and we have also suffered many let downs. That is the nature of our industry. The band lived in London for 2 years and then Los Angeles for 6 years, all in the name of trying to put South African music on a global map. We are still inspired to take our musical message as far as it will lead us.
The local industry has evolved since the release of All Comes Around. What changes have you experienced and what are the key differences between now and then?
In most ways it has definitely changed but some industry standards are still in place today. There are a lot more original bands/ artists now but with less venues to play at. CD’s are being phased out so bands have to get creative with their live merchandise to help supplement income at shows, etc.
We’re going to keep on trying to be part of the solutions to the questions that the whole industry is asking, regarding piracy, etc. and we’re excited to have a part in where it will end up.
Not many people are aware as to why you changed the spelling of your name from Just Jinger to Just Jinjer in 2006. What was the reasoning behind the change?
We became aware that international audiences pronounced the word Jinger like ‘singer’ and we didn’t want to lose any potential word of mouth advertising ,while breaking a new territory, so we decided to spell it out phonetically.
You’ve recently released a new album entitled Everything Since Then. You’ve mentioned that there has been a debate between the band as to whether the album was a year in the making or ten years in the making. Could you clarify this statement as well as let us know why you decided to release this album now?
We haven’t released a full album since 2006 and when we returned from the states in 2009, we decided to find out who we were as individuals, seeing as we’d been living together as a band for a decade. We got together a few months ago to start making this album because it just felt right and we owed it to ourselves and our wonderful fans, who are so patient and loyal to us! So this album is the sum of our individual experience over the last 9 years but it was written and recorded in 2 months. We couldn’t be more excited and proud.
Since inception, your music has been all about positivity and upliftment and it seems that this is still a recurring theme on Everything Since Then. What are some of the other themes covered in Everything Since Then and what is the overarching message that the album hopes to seed?
We have moments on this album that we’ve never allowed ourselves to express before, for whatever reason. It’s a little dangerous at times but overall we feel that there is more than enough anger and over-sexualised music out there so we made an album that you could play at a festival and it would be met with smiles and some serious dance moves!
“No God” on All Comes Around and “For You” on Everything Since Then share a thread in that they both discuss the concept of a higher being. Is religion or spirituality something which is important in your personal lives and the music that you make?
That’s an interesting observation and we certainly don’t want to spoil anyone’s personal attachment to any of our songs by revealing too much of it’s original intent or subject matter. Obviously the more complex a relationship is, whether with another person or spiritual being, it is difficult to sum up exactly what it is to you in a 4 minute song but what is important to us is that we’re honest in our writing.
“Something About Her Way” on Everything Since Then and some other tracks on the album have modern electronic elements in them. How did you go about finding a balance between staying true to the classic Just Jinjer sound and evolving or creating something influenced by current trends?
Once a band has had success, true creation becomes harder to implement because you become fearful of many factors. For the most part, good bands have a ‘sound’ and no matter how far you try to push the stylistic and artistic boundaries, the essence will still shine through. We have made many safe albums, this time we decided to sound exactly how we always wanted to sound and not be bound by previous moulds.
Tell us a bit about the recording and production of Everything Since Then. Who did you work with and was it an easy and organic process for you to get back into studio and create music?
I was put in charge of production oversight on this album but we all had a massive footprint on it and it was truly a wonderfully collaborative expedition. This was without a doubt the easiest album to make because we had no desperation attached to it therefore we weren’t precious… we just wanted the best result for the songs, without personal ego getting in the way.
You recently had your first performance in London since 2010, how did the crowd receive your performance and what was the experience like for your band?
Fantastic. We showcased mostly new songs from this album and the audience was so receptive! We were deeply honoured and fuelled by the experience and plan to return for a more extensive European tour in 2016!
What was your reasoning behind leading the album launch with a performance in London and when can we expect you back in South Africa?
The London date was actually an industry showcase for big European companies in our industry but we wanted the fans to be part of it. We love SA and would never dream of neglecting our local fans so we are touring down the coast in December. Please check out social media platforms for all the details!
What message do you have for a world which is in a period of turmoil?
Ego is the root of all trouble. If we surrendered to being humble and tolerant of all the beings that share this little planet, without having the need to force our personal views of them, we would experience true harmony.
All photography by Daniel Craig