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Like all good things in life, a successful Tinder experience formed the basis for Emma Collins’ (BFA 2019) role in Chicago-based indie-rock group Jungle Green. Her match, Alex Heaney, introduced her to the rest of the band — Adam Miller, Adam Obermeier, Viv McCall, and creative mastermind Andrew Smith — who brought her aboard as backup dancer.
“I got a T-shirt and drew a skeleton on it, and moved in very, very strange ways,” Emma said of her dance methods. “It wasn’t choreographed, it was just an expression, a way to get people to look at us onstage.”
Emma’s role in the band gradually developed. At one performance, Smith tapped Emma to sing a falsetto part he didn’t feel comfortable singing live. Thus, Emma assumed musical duties, which have since expanded to include tambourine, keyboard, and clarinet on occasion.
All of Jungle Green’s core members play multiple instruments in the band. At a rehearsal, we witnessed every single member change instruments as the band transitioned from one song to another.
“We try to do that every song. Keeps things fun and fresh,” Smith said at the rehearsal. “You can get some cool stuff out of non-musicians playing instruments. It also just looks really cool live.”
“When one of us is playing something we’re not comfortable with, most of us are,” Emma said. “So we’re all in the same boat, jumping headfirst into a song that could be really cool and weird or a laughable mess — but it’s thrilling.”
The instrument-migration is a microcosm of what makes Jungle Green great: They’re fun. Their source material is strong, but they don’t take themselves too seriously, which helps level the dynamic between band and audience.
In addition to a staggering 24 releases on Bandcamp, Jungle Green is fresh off a national tour in support of the Lemon Twigs. A couple of the latter’s members recruited Jungle Green after seeing them perform in New York. In Fall 2018, the tour started in L.A., and then continued toward the east coast throughout the beginning of the academic year.
“I was flying back and forth,” Emma said. “I would do two shows, and then fly back, work on my pieces for like three days, and then have a crit, and then fly out and catch two more shows, and then fly back and do another critique.”
You’d expect that such constant travel would hamper Emma’s creative output. But she had the opposite experience. “Two pieces that I made in that period of time just sort of fell out of me. I 100% credit it to having to perform every night, being in that headspace.”
Jungle Green’s freewheeling nature helps Emma alleviate the intensity and stress of art school. Emma recognizes and hopes to carry this energizing dynamic forward in the aftermath of SAIC.
“Moving forward, I just want to keep riding the wave,” she said. I’m excited to keep experimenting, and I’m also excited because I know that it will keep my art practice going, too.”