I had the chance to sit down with Darren Tate - successful producer, film composer, and DJ- and Jono Grant- a member of Above & Beyond, one of the world's most esteemed electronic music groups- to talk about the formation of JODA and their self-titled debut album that comes out on August 26th. 

While the duo's record will transport fans back to the 80s, I think it's better if we take it back to 2020 to discuss just how JODA came to be.   

In 2020 Tate and Grant, along with the other two members of Above & Beyond, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki, worked together on the film score for Craig Leeson's climate change film, The Last Glaciers. 

"We had kinda done most of the work on the film but we didn't have the final director's cut, we both discussed that it wasn't worth doing any more work til we had that final film...We both agreed it was best to stop for a bit...

So I called up Darren one day and said "Hey why don't you come down to the studio and hang out", this is probably in February 2020...We basically we wrote the first track which was 'Shape Of Your Heart' [from JODA] we were just messing around with ideas...We had no preconceived ceptions of what to do it was purely just messing around, it was just having fun". - Grant  

How The Group JODA Began

The pair had a long-standing friendship before working on The Last Glaciers, which they say played into the formation of JODA and the creation of this album. 

"Sometimes when you work with new people there's a magic there, but there's also the challenge of speaking out maybe and actually saying how you feel about something whereas Darren and I, there's no issue there we're very comfortable to say if we do or don't like something"- Grant  

"The mutual respect on one hand, you appreciate each others opinion and you respect the fact that you could be wrong about things and somebody may have a good point, but most fundamentally we get on with each other...We're in the same goal together, we're in the same thing; we love what we do, we enjoy the process, appreciate that we get to do it for a living...That mutual appreciation for each other and for the work itself"-Tate 

JODA's First Song Together

Shortly after they made "We Find Ourselves," the pandemic hit.  

"Suddenly were in a situation where ya know we had a film that was half finished...We had an empty studio, nothing to do so we just carried on making more of this kind of music...we started jamming these tracks down they were kinda like very rough around the edges... Just jams more than songs at that point and then we started writing vocals and develop the tracks and edited all the synths". - Grant 

"We had an idea of some things but we didn't have an over idea of what we wanted for the project, that came really as we developed things, it was a journey of discovery... And that was the case all the way through the mixing of it" - Tate

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When I had asked if there was ever a time once the pandemic had hit did they think maybe to take a break or to just keep going with music, it seemed to be a unanimous answer for the two. 

"There were sort of loopholes and suggestions on how you could work so once those came in like we basically spent everyday, 5 days a week in the studio writing the stuff...I just said to Darren lets do an album, let's turn these tracks into an album." -Grant 

"I didn't feel like writing regular club music cause all the clubs were shut down and my connection with that world had been turned off in a sense...I thought my time is best spent in the studio, I don't really wanna just do dj streams all the time...It just felt like a really good use of time to be creative and use the pandemic as an opportunity but I think that took some time"- Grant 

What Vibe Of Music Is JODA?

As previously stated, fans can expect a nostalgic 80s vibe with a bit of a flare to the record that JODA makes it's own.  

"I'm a kid of the 80's, so rather than like watching or listening to some things specific, that's kind of like a lot of where my own musical DNA is from... A lot of that Synthwave sound was very influential"- Grant 

"We both grew up with these artists, a lot of my ventures in Electronic music were in that period...I think we have elements in the album that are contemporary, we've mixed it with more of a contemporary perspective rather than going down that more obvious Synthwave trope in terms of the sound production...Yes, there's a driving sound, there is that very bit of quite 80's sound to it but I think that's the sound palette...I think we were kind of influenced from all kinds of areas...The key thing is we wanted to give it our own sound to this whole project "- Tate  

"I think the gear was important and everything, but I think the nature of the pandemic and that sort of loneliness and sense of loss... A lot of the album was inspired by that sense of confusion and loss and ya know pain and I guess that went into the album creatively"- Grant 

How JODA Is Different Than Above & Beyond

What sets JODA's sound apart from previous projects and works done by Grant and Tate is everything they've done before. 

"We weren't scared to do things that were completely different from what we'd done, and that means specifically doing things slower, that means using different time signatures, doing breaks... we've got very slow records, we got records that tell stories"- Tate

"Me doing vocals on the project gave it a sound as well... We were trying to write the songs and record them ourselves"-Grant

Tate and Grant each used words to describe the album; "heart" and "reflective," two words encapsulating the world that JODA transports listeners to with this debut. 

So what's next for JODA? If you're in London on August 24th, you can get tickets to the Pitchback Playback for the album; essentially, it's a listening party in complete darkness. Tate and Grant also have said there are some remixes in the works. You can check out the release of JODA's self-titled debut album on streaming platforms on August 26th!