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Howlin’: Jagwar Ma



When listening to Jagwar Ma it’s hard to keep your thoughts far from the Madchester scene of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s as they’ve perfectly channeled the energy and passion of that era whilst retaining a fresh contemporary edge. Mixing and matching pop and dance influences to craft tracks that satisfy fans of both genres is no mean feat but one the boys from Down Under manage seamlessly. So with a big summer planned packed with European tour dates, festival appearances and a new album ‘Howlin’ about to drop we thought we’d catch up with the fantastically named Jagwar Ma for chat to talk about their past present and future…

If I could take you back to the beginning and ask you what first drew you to electronic music?

Growing up and being a guitar player primarily I was really into grunge and punk and garage. Through bands like Sonic Youth and Fugazi I began to get into fx pedals and sonic manipulation. Paul’s Boutique was an important record in opening me up to the world of samples, electronic beats and synths. Around that same time, I saw on TV, this documentary called ‘Modulations” on the history of electronic music. It blew me away and opened me up to loads of interesting electronic artists like Stockhausen, Kraftwerk and all the Warp Records gurus.

When talking to duos and bands  we’re always interested in finding out how they first met. How did you two first meet?

Gab and I were both playing in bands in Sydney around the same time. Sydney’s a small place and our band’s quickly became friends and began touring together.

Where was your first gig? How did it go?

Our first gig as Jagwar Ma was at a festival in Nijmegen, Holland. It went really well considering it was our first gig and Gab’s loop pedals weren’t working. We still had a blast.

Plenty of Australian electronica has been making waves in Europe for a while now. Tell us more about the Australian scene. How does it differ from what’s happening in Europe and the US?

Well, the Australian scence is a little more disparate I guess. Capital cities are geographically quite isolated. Sydney and Perth are about as close as London and Cairo. So each city kind of keeps to itself and even then, there aren’t that many venues around so the music community can be quite insular or autonomic. It feels like in Europe, even though there’s so much cultural diversity, the geographical proximity means that bands and artists can propagate their music to more people and tour it quite economically. I don’t know… it’s hard to compare really. 

How did you come to be known as Jagwar Ma? It’s quite an interesting moniker…

The first Jagwar Ma release was actually a remix I did for an Aus band called the Bumblebeez. I used to do remixes under the moniker Jaguar Paw and then Jaguar Ma and then that release got misspelt by my friend who was releasing it as Jagwar Ma. I liked it and when Gab and I formed the band the name just stuck.

Will we be seeing you collaborating with any other artists in the immediate future?

Who knows? Hopefully, I really like collaborating. We’re going to be pretty busy for a while touring our debut LP though.

2013 has seen people starting to form groups again in electronic music after seeing so many solo artists for so long. Why do you think this is?

Really? I don’t know.

Do you think that working in a group adds something extra to live performance?

Well yeah. In our case it’s great. Gab and I are really musically complementary. I can make quite complete instrumental electronic pieces of music but I can’t sing. Live, Gab can really focus on singing and playing guitar and I can kind of take care of everything else. With Jack on bass it’s even more fun and always good to have live bass grooving away.


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