An Encounter with Jagwar Ma, this fall’s most fabulous musical UFO
To celebrate the release of their second album, “Every Now & Then” Numéro caught up with Jono Ma, producer and musician in the Australian band Jagwar Ma, to discuss this new opus, a veritable kaleidoscope of psychedelic pop sounds.
Numéro: How would you describe this second album released on October 14th?
Jono Ma: Every Now & Then is very dense, it’s like a sort of organised chaos guided by pop sounds, where we alternate fun and light pieces with others that are more aggressive. This disorder typically results in tracks like Give Me A Reason where Gab starts singing Go to the left and right at the end of the tune in a way’s that pretty comical. We also get this slight hip-hop vibe, particularly with the percussion that’s influenced by groups like The Avalanches, albums such as Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys and other more electro productions by the Dust Brothers.
How did the band come about?
Gab [Gabriel Winterfield, the lead singer], Jack [Jack Frieman, the bassist] and myself all come from the same music scene in Australia. We all gravitated around the same bunch of musicians in Sydney, playing in different bands like Lost Valentinos and The Wahas. Through bumping into each other at festivals and parties we started doing a few productions together. To begin with it was just Gab and me, and that resulted in the first song Come save me and then Howling our first album, quite naturally came out of that. Everything happened very smoothly and easily, and that really comes across in the tunes.
The writing stage happened in Australia then we spent 6 months in the Loire Valley recording. We have a friend who has a house there that’s totally isolated.
For this second album Every Now & Then, the stakes were much greater. You’d already been discovered. Did that affect your creative process?
We clearly had to take that into account, but that’s also why we wanted to reiterate the creative process as for the first album: the writing stage happened in Australia then we spent 6 months in the Loire Valley recording. We have a friend who has a house there that’s totally isolated and I built a studio in it where we worked on and recorded most of the tracks. The question of financial pressures was instantly gone because we weren’t renting a studio, we were totally cut off from the world, in an environment where we could devote ourselves to just making the music.
You’re well known for your stage shows, it’s one of the band’s real stand out points. If you had to choose between a concert at a huge festival or a small intimate venue with only twenty people, which would you prefer?
Obviously the live aspect of our music is super important. We always try and improvise, to give a second life and new shape to a song. But the festival format is pretty rigid and doesn’t leave much space for improvisation and even if the energy of that mass of people is incredible, there’s less connection with individuals, it’s much more abstract. I’d say more a little intimate venue, like when we played at the Flèche d’or and the crowd actually stormed the stage, everyone went wild and danced, that was mad.
Every Now & Then is very dense, it’s like a sort of organised chaos guided by pop sounds.
What are your next projects?
In the short term we’re touring and I’ll undoubtedly take the opportunity to start drafting the next album. I’ve got a studio in London now, so we might record there and maybe even here in Paris…
Every Now & Then (Pias) de Jagwar Ma. Available from 14th october 2016.
By Chloë Fage