Inside all of us lives a slimy and wretched goblin, with sharp teeth, an ugly face and long twisted fingernails. This creature waits in slumber, caressing our anxieties, fears, anger and sadness, waiting to be shaken and excited into causing all sorts of irrevocable havoc. And each and every one of us wears a mask, in a sordid attempt to hide our gremlins deep down where no-one can find them.
The masks we wear as Jadu Heart represent two fictional characters called Dina and Faro. Dina and Faro are hideous, razor-toothed, crystal beasts who are from another dimension. Now living in London and unable to hide behind a carefully curated facade like the rest of us, they represent our deepest insecurities. But the more time we spend with them, the easier it becomes to notice the beauty within them, and after you get over the initial discomfort of being a monster it becomes incredibly liberating and enjoyable to feel ugly and weird, to embrace being an outsider.
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The majority of our tunes and lyrics are written from their perspective and it’s fair to say that for us, they are a weird form of ‘alter-ego’. There’s no end to why people would wear masks on stage. For us, hiding our identity isn’t that big of a deal; the masks are more of a tool to add multiple layers to our performances and to the records we put out.
Being an ethereal and fictional entity has weirdly given us a sense of freedom to explore music in any which way we see fit, and we have (so far) managed to get away with crossing over a ton of genre boundaries and no one has called us out for it.
It does, however, come with some curses. Not being able to connect with an audience effectively for example, is something we’ve been very conscious of. But our presence online and the way we choose to interact with audiences at shows, hopefully leaves fans feeling like they’ve connected with us as ‘real’ people, as well as Dina and Faro and their surreal, dystopian reality.
Masks, historically, have often been used to tell stories in one way or another. One of the most significant instances of storytelling in music for us, is Sun Ra. Although his face was not always hidden by a physical mask, his use of costume and visual imagery allowed him to share his story with us, the story of a alien space god who was sent to earth to spread love through the medium of jazz.
More recently, we’ve seen masks being used to hide identities and inspire curiosity within music. We grew up listening to MF Doom, SBTRKT, Daft Punk, and Goat and we love the fact we could walk past them right now and not recognise them. For all we know, SBTRKT could have been that drunk dude who spilt his falafel on our shoes last night. Fuck knows.
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This Sun Ra and Rammellzee-esque type of storytelling, coupled with the modern lust for mystery in music ended up being a big influence for us while we were creating the ‘Jadu-verse’ and deciding on the way we wanted to portray it. Designing and making a couple of unique masks from scratch is a much harder feat than it sounds, but luckily with 3D printing and software like ZBrush we’ve been able to experiment and mess around without spending all our money on materials.
That’s something that over the past ten years has been a God send for young artists, particularly those coming from less privileged backgrounds. If they can get their hands on a computer and get on Pirate Bay they have the ability to record and produce an album, design the artwork, create visuals for the record and even sculpt a stage set for the show.
Computers are insane, we’re living in the Wild West era of computer art. Soon enough due to the dissolution of net neutrality, censoring and many other disturbing procedures being implemented in the world right now, it will become impossible to crack software and it will become much harder for kids from lower income families to get their hands on it. We’re not condoning the act of illegally downloading, but all we know is that right now we have a generation of young, inspired artists who’s careers began on cracked software. Every professional buys it in the end.
While it’s still possible, you can find out more about who Dina, Faro and Jadu are by scouring the internet and there’s even a comic book poster in the last vinyl we released. Not many people know about the conceptual side of the project as we made sure from day one that the music was to speak for itself, but we often hear people tell us that it feels like there’s a story behind it, just by listening. And of course from a visual standpoint, the masks indicate that there is some sort of narrative connected to the music.
We have, as we’re sure many other masked artists have been, back and forth over whether or not the masks are an advantage or a hinderance. But all in all, we’ve come to a profound conclusion of “who cares?” We shouldn’t be scared to wear silly things and embrace the strange elements of life.
After all, we are all guilty of wearing masks everyday. Ours are just made of plastic.
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