Jagwar Ma

By Ben Doy

Australian duo Jagwar Ma were in town last week and performed an awesome show at the Kings Arms Tavern in Auckland.  

We caught up with both Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield on the morning of their show and found out a bit more about the Jagwar Ma story.  

Where and when did Jagwar Ma form?

Jono: About two years ago now, in Sydney. We met through the respective bands that we were playing with. We'd been friends for years and we'd jam together occasionally in a few different side projects.  But about two years ago we decided to commit to making music

Gabriel: Another thing, and I've just realised this, is that the band didn't form in the rehearsal studio. It kind of started at a recording studio, which I reckon is actually a bit weird... you're hitting the ground running.

Jono: It started like most electronic projects start rather than most indie bands. It came out of tracks that were formed and then we recorded vocals for them in the studio. So it kind of started like an electronic project.

When did you guys start gigging and doing shows?

Jono: Halfway through the making the record, which was good because it kind of let us know the strengths and weaknesses of what we'd written to that point.

How many are in the group when you perform on stage?

Jono: We're a three-piece live. But the record is just mainly Gabe and myself. But we did have some other people do a few extra bits and pieces. Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint plays drums on one track and Ewan Pearson did some additional synths on a few tracks. So there were a few little bits and pieces.

What's the story with your name?

Jono: Before this, I was doing remixes under the name Jaguar Ma. Then a friend of ours kinda misspelt it on purpose, and we just sort of liked the randomness of it and it ended up sticking.

It's certainly not a name you'd confuse with someone else...

Jono:  It's very googleable.

Gabriel: Yeah, we were thinking about that

Jono: I think that's why he misspelt it.

What are you guys listening to at the moment?

Gabriel: We were listening to Splassh in the car. How cool is that? They're friends of our, and they're like a New Zealand band I guess. One of the guys from The Checks is in it.

One I'm listening to at the moment is called Diamond D and the Neurotics ‘Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop'. It's like this East Coast 90s hip-hop record. It's really good and very tasteful. Knowing how Jono does production, my ears are now very in tune to listening to production and I really love listening to that kind of thing and I have a real appreciation for it.  J Dilla as well. Jono is a big J Dilla fan.

Jono: I was going to say that's probably the record that's blown me away most recently. The new J Dilla lost tapes. I don't know if it's out on CD, but I got it on record in London. It's just amazing, absolutely phenomenal. It actually works really well as an album due to the way they've curated it.

Where did you record Howlin?

Jono: Bits in Sydney, but we spent the most time in France in a friends studio out in the countryside. We did other bits and pieces in London and mixed it in Berlin.

Are you based in Sydney?

Gabriel: Not really... not at all. I'm kinda based in a suitcase and Jono's just got a flat in London.

Jono: But I'm the same as Gabe is, I'm wherever the show is that night. But I guess we're approaching being based in the UK.

And how was Glastonbury?

Gabriel: Sick. There are a few things that are amazing about Glastonbury. First of all, when people are at Glastonbury all they talk about is being at Glastonbury. So you get the sense that it is its own world.

Jono: It was like we're in this city, and everyone are locals in this city.

Gabriel: It was pretty incredible, because we got to perform to the biggest crowd that we've played too. But even if that hadn't of happened, I still would have had an amazing time. And all the other activities that did, like walking around with everyone... it was just brilliant. You do a lot of walking!

Was there a good camaraderie between the acts?

Gabriel: The bands are kind of funny. I was pretty chuffed because we played a show on the Friday; a smaller show before the big one on the Saturday, and the crowd was more famous than us! The Horrors were watching us as well as Tame Impala and Foals. All of these bands had come to watch us, and then came backstage and congratulated us. That was cool.

Do you have plans for the follow up album?

Jono: I guess once all the shows settle down. We'll probably start throwing ideas around once we are on the road.

Do you think you'll be back for any of the summer festivals?

Gabriel: We will be... but we can't say which one.

Jono: Yeah, it's not announced yet but we'll definitely be back here early next year.