Let’s just get this out of the way now for the old schoolers: if this was the mid-to-late 90s or even earlier, Mint June would not be seen as experimental. With lashings of early industrial, techno and electro house making up the bulk of his work, this project dreamed up by composer Jeremy Jung in 2019 would be easily classed as electro house or breaks, akin to Electroliners or DJ Icey. Apparently that stuff is now old enough to be reborn in new formats and mashups, and honestly we’re here for it.
Philosophically opposed to big business rave and EDM culture, Jung started his Mint June project not just as a throwback to the underground days but as a re-formulation of that sound with cleaner modern techniques. To wit: the first track on his first EP, test 1 EP, is called “Opposite of Coachella.” This guy knows what he’s about.
With test EP 1 Containing loads of different beat styles and some genuine experimental elements, it’s also clear Jung isn’t merely here to thumb his nose as festival culture and remind us of our roots. There’s a joy in playing with synth manipulation, mods and even those classic straight beats he’s so fond of. Jung’s love is for the science of sound as much as it is for early rave culture, so in this way he’s also quite experimental. Enter, Surrendering Nina.
Concept albums are not exactly huge in EDM culture at the moment, since the pop machine is definitely driving a large part of that train. They’ve definitely been relegated to the more fringe elements of electronic music: IDM, electro, industrial and, here comes that word again, experimental. The Surrendering Nina EP is, in Jung’s eyes more than anything else, a concept piece that tells a story. And what is the story it tells? Underground rave, of course.
Each track has its own vibe that I think is tailored to the overall ethos of the project, portraying the beauty and disorder of modern underground rave culture through the tale of Nina, a part-time bartender who finds herself overindulging in drug use when she meets a new friend named Paige.
“Paige” is actually where the story starts with Surrendering Nina, and it seems Jung would like us to draw our conclusions from there. Anyone who’s been to an underground rave knows this story, and as the largely electro house vibes take us through Nina and Paige’s night via “You’ll Like It,” “Those Guys,” Montage” and “Nina,” the nostalgia for many fans will be so strong that we can actually smell what’s happening. From “Paige” convincing to try an underground party (and its drugs via “Those Guys”), the blissful dancing “Montage” as all these new feelings are discovered to the transcendental finding of a new self in the morning after leaving the warehouse with “Nina”…all these events are familiar and definitely have a soundtrack. For those of us who started raving in the 80s and 90s, Surrendering Nina is that soundtrack. Jung’s even made a film to go with the EP, and it’s all too familiar (film embedded bellow).
Surrendering Nina as an EP is every rave movie you’ve ever seen and every true raver’s origin story. It’s what separates pop EDM from rave and it’s clearly something Jung as Mint June is passionate about and knows well from experience. It may seem experimental now but it was all experimental at one point. In the age of EDC and pop artists merging with EDM, festivals costing more than a Rolling Stones concert and no guarantee that the person next to you on the dancefloor feels that same home in their heart, Mint June is here as a reminder that there are still plenty of us out there, and we will always know how to surrender to the beat.
Surrendering Nina is out now and can be streamed on Spotify or purchased (with a cool vinyl option) on Bandcamp. Click here for all platform options.