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Introducing: Neon Jungle

Just the other week, we met a new girlband. They’re called Neon Jungle, and we reckon they’re pretty fantastic. They’re like Little Mix without the intense streamlining and Cowell-kowtowing of X Factor; Sugababes before they all decided that they wanted to cut each other up; the Spice Girls before they became massive. All of which are obviously, unbelievably A Good Thing.

The girl’s official video for their debut single, ‘Trouble’ is finally here, where they trash a house, dance in spotlights and sport extremely big hair.

This lot, we think, have got it.

They are also, as Popjustice noted earlier this month, a ‘handful.’ Composed of four excitable girls from different part of the country who aren’t even living in the same city, the band are still in their infancy – they’ve not slicked-out their interview dynamic or even cemented their friendships, but just like freshers week they are already the best of friends. We met up with them for a little shoot and chat (like you do) and here’s how we got on…

PlanetNotion: Hello Neon Jungle! Please could you introduce yourselves and tell me about the first time you sang in public.
Asami: I’m from Suffolk, but originally from Japan. The first time I sang in public was probably in front of my family, probably when I was like 5 or 6 in Japan. Just around the house I used to sing Evanescence, and my Dad made me stand behind the curtain to sing it when all the family were around.

Asami wears – Top: MaKers LDN / Trousers: American Apparel / Shoes: Office / Earrings: Gogo Phillip

Jess: I’m from London, my Dad is Jamaican and my mum is English. When did I first sing in public? I was that annoying kid who used to walk around to like every playground duty worker in primary school and be like ‘can I sing for you?’ and sing like some TLC song or something. I used to do that quite a lot…


Jess wears – Dungarees: River Island / Trainers: Reebok / Earrings: Gogo Philip / Necklace & Watch: Jess’ own

Amira: I’m from London; my mum’s from Gambia and my dad’s from Jamaica. I used to sing to my family all the time, like at Christmas I used to get on the table, there’s this one picture of me in a fairy costume standing on the table at Xmas. It wasn’t carols though…
Jess: Was it The Thong Song? [all laugh]
Amira: Nah, it was a Spice Girls song or something, I was a bit obsessed!


Amira wears – Top & Shorts: Kuccia / String Vest & earrings: Amira’s own / Shoes: Buffalo available at Schuh / Hat: Local Heroes

Shereen: I’m from Scotland, in between Glasgow and Edinburgh. My background is that my Dad’s from Belize. Probably in primary school when I was about 9, was my first singing in public, I’ve always sung since I was a baby – always!
Amira: She sings like all the time!


Shereen wears – Tee: I Am Vibes / Jeans: Shereen’s own / Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell / Bangles: Claire’s

PN: Who sings the most?
[Everyone points to Shereen and laughs]
Amira: When she stayed at my house and she was like sleep singing, her eyes were closed but she was singing!

PN: What were you guys like growing up?
Asami: I was a good kid at home, but at school I was a bit of a naughty one – stealing pencils, stealing rubbers, that sort of thing…
Jess: I was a bit cheeky maybe…
Asami: A bit! [all laugh]
Jess: I’ve always got on with everyone I’ve met, in school, I had my best mates, but I was always like friends with everyone though.
Amira: I was a good kid at school and at home, but (and I still am) I was probably the kid who knew all the answers maybe, and the teacher would be like let someone else answer this question…I was a bit of a teacher’s pet as well.

PN: A bit like Hermione in Harry Potter?
All: YEAH!
Shereen: I was pretty much good, nothing bad, like stealing pencils and stuff, but yeah…

PN: Stealing pencils is obviously a group trait, like when you go to Ikea, you must be so excited…
[All laugh]
Jess: Yeah – at Ikea they’re free!
Asami: I’m trying to get in on this but I’ve never been to Ikea…
All: Really?

PN: You’re missing out on a seminal life experience…what’s the story behind the band, how did you guys meet?
Shereen: The auditions started on all different dates for all of us.
Jess: We got found individually by our now manager, so we’ve been on that journey.
Amira: It started in like November; Shereen had a fast pass though.
Shereen: I didn’t know you guys until…a few months ago!

PN: How many shoots have you done now?
Asami: This is our second! The people on set create such a good atmosphere on set, it’s still a bit awkward at first, and then you realise that they’re doing silly things behind the camera then you’re just like, I guess I can make a fool of myself, *just this one time*!
Amira: There was no point when I felt like everyone was watching me, and the vibe was lovely.

Amira wears – Top: Beyond Retro / Trousers: Adidas / Shoes: River island / Earrings: Claire’s
Jess wears – Tee: Doghouse / Shorts: H&M / Shoes: Dr Martens
Asami wears – Top: Tinned Bananas / Dungarees: Topshop / Trainers: Adidas
Shereen wears – Vest: Iron Fist / Shorts: Topshop / Trainers: Nike

PN: How would you describe Neon Jungle as a band?
Asami: Chaotic
Jess: Mayhem
Shereen: I was gonna say chaotic!
Jess: Chaotic AND mayhem
Jess: We’re called Neon Jungle: it’s like neon is bold, bright, strong individual characters and then the jungle part is the madness, and even though we’re these bright bold strong individuals, we’re completely different and we’re all intertwined.
Asami: When people think of ‘neon’ they think of all these bright colours. And we do like our bright colours but not to the extent when it’s like fluorescent; Neon Jungle is more about vibrant personalities rather than colours

PN: So taking the jungle metaphor to its logical conclusion, which jungle animal would you be and why?
Asami: A monkey – a chimpanzee to be exact.

PN: Straight away! You’ve obviously thought about this quite a lot?
Asami: I just love chimpanzees [laughs]
Jess: I quite like monkeys too
Amira: You’d be like a baboon! I was waiting for you to say that so I could say baboon!
[all laugh]
Jess: I love monkeys, I love elephants, but I think I’d have to be a lion. Not a female lion though, the male one, like Mufasa!
Asami: I can imagine that because you’re quite protective of us. I know the woman is, but the man is…
Amira: I know they think I should be a giraffe, because I have long legs, but I think I wanna be a panda
All: Awwww
Amira: Either a panda or a jaguar.
Asami: I think it’s great that you say panda because on the exterior you’ve got that kind of hard look and then a panda is so cuddly
Shereen: I think I’d probably be a panther
Jess: Panther’s the one in jungle book, innit? Bagheera.
All: Yeah, like sexy…
Shereen: So I’m the sexy one am I? [laughs] Wooooo!

PN: Is there a sense of girl power in the band? Or are you over that?
Jess: Not so much that we’re ramming it down people’s throats, but a little part of me is that I’m quite proud to be a woman, and all about friendship and loyalty. Obviously family means a lot to me, but when I let people in I get quite connected and attached…

PN: How many times have you performed in public?
Asami: Three times now. It’s been excellent, better than we expected, it actually went really well for us. Doing it live with all the people was fantastic.
Jess: The crowd were beautiful, it made me wanna cry, they were so giving…
[At this point, they all break down in laughter about being humble and ‘thanking God’]
Amira: Did you just fart?
Jess: No I didn’t, it was the sofa!

PN: How does the dynamic work on stage? Do you have a leader?
Asami: Everyone
Amira: We are all leaders, we all ‘lead the jungle’…
[more laughter]
Shereen: Why is everyone so cheesy today! We don’t ‘lead the jungle’!
[all laugh]

PN: Are you pleased with the reaction you’ve had so far from audiences and social media?
Amira: We couldn’t be happier! The response has been so good – we’re not even out there yet and it’s already such positive feedback, people wanna hear what we’re doing next and what we’re doing and we haven’t even done much yet!

SL: How have your mates from home reacted?
Asami: Me and Shereen are hitting the homesick stage, like we’re really missing our families – I got on the train and my mum was waving ‘bye to me and then I started crying and I was like ‘I miss my family in Japan!’ ‘I just miss everyone!’ And people were just looking at me and I was like ‘I’m sorry I’m just an emotional wreck right now!’
Amira: We’re such family oriented people that this is such a different experience for us
Shereen: It’s hard, it’s exciting though, but we’ll get through it. We’re family now!

SL: What’s the best perk you’ve had so far?
Jess: Our stylist Amy is amazing; when we did the video shoot, she was just like throwing things at us! Like ‘Who wants Air Jordans?’ ‘Do you want that?’ It was amazing.
Asami: Also I think like meeting new people on like shoots, it’s such a privilege.
Jess: Our PR guy took us to meet Miguel and that was just like OH. MY. GOD. I almost died!
Amira: I don’t think there is a biggest perk, it’s just the whole opportunity and everything really
Jess: It’s waking up and being told like your cab’s coming at 8.30, I walk down Penge High Street past my bus, getting in my Addison Lee…! [laughs]
Amira: The funniest thing was like this morning when they sent us our cabs, their brief says do not ask for autograph from passengers. The driver was telling me, and I was like ‘you can have my autograph, I bet you don’t even want it! You don’t even know who I am yet!’ He told me he has a tissue box, and underneath it has everybody, like EVERYBODY.


PN: The secret life of the AddLee driver. So obviously the single is called Trouble; which of you gets into the most trouble?
[pregnant pause]
Amira: Apart from Shereen breaking things, and pencil stealing…

PN: None of you instinctively pointed at someone either, is that because you’re all equally loads of trouble?
Jess: I just think generally, like as a group, we represent a chaotic mayhem kinda vibe but we’re all – no-one’s trouble, it’s just a bit of mischief
Asami: I’d say we’re very outgoing…
Jess: Outspoken, it’s fun trouble! We’re a bit like marmite, baby!

PN: How about the next few weeks – what do they have in store for you guys?
Amira: We get our schedule the day before, so it could be literally you’re free all week, or Monday you’re here Tuesday you’re here, Wednesday you’re here…
Asami: We’ve got rehearsals coming up, we’ve got our press shoot, just exciting little bits and bobs and getting ready for our launch really
Jess: It’s hard because if you wanna go and see family, or if you wanna book something, obviously you can’t. But at the same time I’d rather be doing this than a 9-5. I’m just really looking forward to ‘Trouble’ dropping!
Asami: And the reaction. I’m excited and a bit of everything. Mixed emotions, you don’t know what’ll happen, what reaction you’ll get, until the time is there…

PN: The video sounds amazing, I’ve heard there are Chihuahuas…
Jess: There’s ten! Jumping around eating chicken.
Asami: I think it’s going to be really good.
Amira: Not blow our own trumpets…
Jess: The director was amazing. Everyone that day was amazing – that’s another thing, I can’t wait to do more music videos, I thought it’d be a drag and a long day, but it was just like a funfair, a party!
Amira: It was a lovely day and it was the hottest day of the year so far, we caught tans and everything.

PN: OK, so a few quickfire questions now: who are your musical idols?
Shereen: My Dad – now I get the cheesy bits! He’s a singer, he used to be in a band when he was younger – they were like the JLS of their day. I could have been living it up already!
Asami: Everything happens for a reason [laughs]. I grew up listening to the Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dido, they’re probably the people that I like, but also I really like the Jonas Brothers! They entered me and my sister’s life with an awesome song, I can’t remember what it was – but it was the first song that lifted me up and I was like everything’s going to be all right…
Jess: To name one would just be like, oh there’s so many, obviously Mariah Carey, Celine Dion – big vocals but then at the same time I do like the cheesy thing, like Jessie J’s music, I like that she writes most of her stuff…
Amira: You called it cheesy!
Jess: I mean the feelgood stuff – every time I listen to the new song, I just wanna down the street – I love it! And obviously I’ve just got to say Rihanna’s name – I think she’s incredible!
Amira: Queen B, Beyoncé! It just has to be. I’ve been waiting! There are other iconic people that I love and aspire to be, but B is at the top. Like Bob Marley;  I watched this documentary the other day, my Dad was a massive fan and it’s all I used to hear. I wasn’t really such a big fan, but that’s where reggae started and I quite like the difference: Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, they were all at the top of their game.

PN: What was your first album?
Asami: Shakira – Laundry Service
[Everyone sings ‘Under1neath Your Clothes’ and laughs]
Jess OMG MINE TOO! My first album was Shakira, my first single was Sisqo ‘Thong Song’
Amira: Mine was N’SYNC and then it was Destony’s Child
Shereen: I think mine was JLS – I think I was really tight! I didn’t buy any CDs – we just always had music in the house

PN: Who are your celebrity crushes?
Asami: Josh from Union J, or Harry Styles, or Ryan Gosling. It’s the boyband thing.
Shereen: I’m not going to be a bore, but I really like Will Smith.
Jess: Pharrell – I don’t know what it is about him, but he has got everything going on. I’ve fancied him for forever but he’s just been an ongoing crush that I’ve always had
Amira: He doesn’t age!
Jess: I’m saying it because they got something going on right now, but Robin Thicke – he’s got something sexy going on, his eyes, that rugged look [Jess makes a slurping noise and everyone falls about giggling]
Amira: Oh like my mum likes him! It goes from like one extreme to another, from like pretty boys to A$AP Rocky to like Beyoncé, I dunno – who can I say, I like so many people! ASAP is a recent one – he is hot.

PN: What’s the best thing about being in a band?
Asami: Never being lonely.
Jess: Everything.
Amira: Not having to be on stage like facing things on your own, like if this interview was just me, I’d feel so awkward
Shereen: Being all like sisters!
All: YEAHHHHHH! Awwww!


Check our all the latest from Neon Jungle at their Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Youtube

Interview by Seb Law

Photographer: Sonny Malhotra
Styling: Alexis Knox
Makeup: Kristina Vidic using Mac Pro
Fashion Coordinator: Emily Meola
Fashion Assistant: Francesca Barry & Kirsty Jones

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