Interview: Jagwar Ma

Jagwar Ma started yet another tour when they played King Tuts Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow the other night. I caught up with guitarist and vocalist Gabriel Winterfield, who answers from Jagwar Ma's tour bus on the way down to Madchester. the music he loves, the surprise acclaim of Jagwar Ma's debut album Howlin', and the excitement of touring the UK.

MRD: You're from Sydney, like The Cannanes, and like them, do you find audiences in Europe and North America to be more welcoming, compared to Australia?

Gabriel: I think ultimately we feel comfortable anywhere. It’s been very cool playing everywhere and I don’t think it really makes a difference.

Do you think the Australian music community is too secluded?

No, if anything it’s more connected than it was in the past. With online communities it doesn’t really matter where you're from, and to be honest we actually made a lot of the record in Europe. There are always pockets of creativity and things like that.

Do you share a love for Primal Scream's third album Screamadelica like your Melbourne counterparts Cut Copy?

Yeah, it’s an amazing record. I saw Primal scream play Screamdelica live once and that was cool. I saw them three / four years ago in Sydney.

A British artist called Django Django emerged last year with a neo-psychedelia / electronica sound, influenced by the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Animal Collective, The Beach Boys, and Happy Mondays.

Is it accurate to say you convey the same influences in your sound?

Yeah obviously we do like The Beach Boys, who doesn’t? And I do like Happy Mondays... I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like those bands! Anyone who knows them, normally likes them. I think people want to find a pigeon hole and associate it with you, as much as I love The Happy Mondays and I love Shaun Ryder to the degree of his vocals and stuff like that, that bares no influence on my vocals. If anything, I’ve kind of always wanted to sing like Marvin Gaye, more so than Shaun Ryder. But people aren’t going to really pick up on that as much, probably because I don’t sound like Marvin Gaye… But I try to.

Has the acclaim for Howlin' taken you by surprise?

Yeah, totally. We didn’t expect anything like the attention that we're getting, and we’re very very grateful for it. It’s been an amazing experience so far.

How do you intend to follow it up?

I think we might start doing some work [on a new album]. We’ve been touring most of this year on and off since January, we haven’t had much time. Having said that, I have my acoustic guitar at my feet right now. I know Jono has been making some beats in his spare time as well.

Are you excited to be touring the UK again?

Yes! We love it here, we always really enjoy it. We kind of live here now as well.
We actually played a song live for the first time [At King Tuts]. We played ‘Backwards Berlin’, and it worked out okay so that was cool.

Will you be looking forward to playing Iceland Airwaves this year?

Yeah yeah, that will be rad. I’m just really looking forward to seeing Iceland, I’ve never been there. The festival has a Scandinavian elegance to it, like with the webpage and the bands that they’ve chosen. It looks like a really nice situated festival.

What do you make of the current shoegaze revival? In particular the return of My Bloody Valentine and their first album in 21 years.

That record, I mean it was rad, I love My Bloody Valentine. To say it’s a new record... I get the impression a lot of their songs have been sitting on the shelf for a while. It’s a really good album. I think people are, in the same way as they did in the 60s, people are referencing what happened in the 50s; people are doing the exact same thing [today]. Our legacy bands now sound like My Bloody Valentine and things like that. It’s the same as The [Rolling] Stones loving Bo Diddley, it’s that generation gap.

There's been a lot of talk regarding exploitation in the music industry, in particular Miley Cyrus, and the music video for ‘Wrecking Ball’. What are your thoughts on this matter?

I think there’s a Hunter S. Thompson quote, something along the lines of ‘if you buy the ticket, you take the ride,’ and I think that probably applies to a lot of pop musicians. They can’t be begrudged at the fact that their being exploited because they asked for it. I think perhaps maybe in the case of someone like Miley Cyrus, that might be a prime example. 

Originally posted by Eddie on The National Student.

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Discovery: Interview: Jagwar Ma
Interview: Jagwar Ma
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