Platinum-selling superstars with multiple industry awards in their native Sweden – and fast becoming a huge live draw across Scandinavia and Germany – Blood Jungle is the album that sees them step into the international spotlight, with all guns blazing.
It is bigger, bolder, brighter and looser than its predecessors, full of light and ambition. And for the first time, Sweden’s best-kept secret is going global as Blood Jungle is being released worldwide by Universal (via Polydor in the UK). One listen to the album and it’s clear that Johnossi’s time has come – you can feel the hunger for new adventures and the drive to make a great musical leap forward.
Whilst delighting exisiting fans who share their ideals and identity, the new album is an open invitation to a whole new audience to discover what makes these two friends – guitarist and vocalist John Engelbert and drummer Oskar “Ossi” Bonde – so very special.
The pair formed Johnossi in 2004, whilst still in their early twenties. After only three shows they landed their first record deal and, with the release of their debut album, instantly became one of the most influential contemporary acts in Sweden, winning a Swedish Grammy Award and a huge fanbase with their explosive live shows.
Subsequent albums have been hugely acclaimed by critics, whilst their devastating sonic armada has ignited stage after stage with Ossi’s ferocious drumming and John’s stunning guitar work and vocals leaving audiences in disbelief that such a powerful show can come from just two musicians.
However with the fresh sounds of Blood Jungle, Johnossi are effectively making a second debut, coursing with new electricity in their veins and stepping onto the cut-throat world stage to issue a rallying call to new fans far and wide. The clue is in the name…
“First and foremost, an album title must sound good,” explains John. “But Blood Jungle also means a lot to me. Some years ago, Ossi and I were on an adventure deep in the Amazon jungle of Peru. We lived with some shamans who put us on a strict schedule – seven ayahuasca rituals in twelve days. I got the feeling that the sap in the trees, the blood in our veins, the water in the rivers – it all flows – it’s all belonging. That’s my feeling behind the title.”
“For me, the title Blood Jungle sort of sums up what the new album is about,” continues Ossi. “It is earthy, vibrant and has a pulse. It might be contradictory though, as Blood Jungle has more electronic parts than anything we have done before and is very varied.”
All of which means that, after twelve years together, John Engelbert and Ossi Bonde have created Johnossi 2.0. Blood Jungle is all about saying yes, about embracing new opportunities, about bursting out of the musical bubble Johnossi had created around themselves. To do so they brought in some of their talented friends from the Swedish music scene for the very first time.
Producers Astma & Rocwell (Tobias Jimson and Michel Flygare) had been big fans of Johnossi’s music for a long time, but had never produced a rock band before. Specialists in the pop and urban world, as well as being members of their own band NONONO, they brought a new way of working to the duo, a new sense of exploration. Whereas previously Johnossi wrote songs, rehearsed them and then went straight into the studio to record, Astma & Rocwell’s pop sensibilities enabled the band to create a new modern soundscape, whilst keeping the core identity of Johnossi intact.
The first sign of this is the lead single ‘Air Is Free’, which is a vibrant, melodic explosion. Before John even opens his mouth, there´s the sound of a triumphant brass section and a female choir, things you never used to find in a Johnossi song. To date, their musical excesses have been limited to drums, guitar and keyboard… and even the keyboard took three albums to sneak into the mix!
In addition to working with new producers Johnossi have also collaborated for the first time with other songwriters on a number of songs. There were no big plans behind this but in keeping with John’s sense that all things are connected and belong together, various coincidences, opportunities and meetings with good friends created an array of intriguing chances to do something different.
So the album contains collaborations with people like Joakim Berg from Sweden’s biggest rock band Kent on the track ‘War/Rain’, and world-class Swedish songwriters and friends of John and Ossi, Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub (on ‘Weak Spots’), Patrik Berger (‘Blood’) and Salem Al Fakir and Vincent Pontare (‘On A Roll’). Between them these songwriting titans have written songs with artists such as Lana Del Rey, Miike Snow, Robyn, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Charlie XCX, Ellie Goulding, Avicii and Pink amongst many others. Yet for all their pop sensibilities, working with John and Ossi they have created some of the most exciting rock songs you’ll hear in 2017.
“This time around we really wanted to challenge ourselves in as many ways as possible during the process. The people we have worked with happens to be our buddies, but they are also fantastic songwriters and producers, which made it even more fun,” says Ossi Bonde.
The results are instant and infectious. Whether it’s the airy ‘Freeman’ with its simple piano motif, or the forthcoming single ‘Hands’, where John Engelbert describes police brutality from both the victim and the perpetrator’s perspective, these are songs that are destined to bring international acclaim for Johnossi. On the brooding and masterful rock of album opener ‘Blood’ and the psychedelic-tinged ‘Tall Dark Man’ (produced by Calle Ask) it is noticeable that Johnossi are flexing their muscles, growing bolder and more uninhibited with every note.
The duo themselves say that the core of what they do is the melodic language they share, combined with the strength of John’s voice. That is their identity. But beyond that they feel free to do whatever they want, which is exactly what they’re doing on this new album. Blood Jungle shows that they have mastered more shades, moods, emotions, colours and flavours than ever before. The world is theirs for the taking…
Stockholm based, rock duo Johnossi released their self titled debut album (2005) and have since released three more albums (All They Ever Wanted, Mavericks and Transitions). They have toured extensively mainly in Europe but also in the US and Japan, both headlining and as support to acts like The Hives, Lykke Li, Mando Diao, Green Day, Shout Out Louds and The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Johnossi have had several platinum selling albums and singles in Sweden and won various awards including a Swedish Grammy Award for ”Best Group” + two National Radio P3 Gold Awards for ”Best Group” (equivalent of Radio 1 in the UK).