Sydney outfit Jagwar Ma have made their mark on the global electronic dance scene with their widely embraced catchy beats. SARA MATTSSON chats to Jono Ma ahead of the duo’s headline tour on the back of their debut album, Howlin.
Just having ticked off one of many artist’s dreams – playing Glastonbury – Jono Ma, Gabriel Winterfield and Jack Freeman, collectively known as Jagwar Ma, performed three shows across two days of the iconic gig.
“It was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced,” Ma says of their first Glastonbury gig. “When we were playing the last song and it was sort of quite clear that we’d done a good job.”
On stage, the boys perform as a three-piece, however in the studio it’s just Winterfield and Ma. Their journey has been rather spectacular thus far, and the Sydney-siders seem to be on everyone’s lips at the moment. Why?
“That’s a tough question without sounding self righteous (Ma laughs). I think if I put an objective hat on and assess all the things that people are saying, I think it’s just this really simple dichotomy of Gab, who’s such a great vocalist, such a great singer, and I think that there’s really strong melodies in the songs but then there’s just more interesting and deeper approach to the production of what essentially could be straight up pop music. It’s sort of darker dance element and approach to essentially really catchy songs.”
We rewind back to 2011, which was the year Jagwar Ma’s career started to take shape in Europe. “The reason Europe was first is because the first track that we did, Come Save Me, was released by two people from (UK label) XL Records, so it naturally had more of an UK-centric kind of reach,” Ma explains. “On top of that we ended up recording the record (Howlin) in France.
“Then these two gig offers came in, one in the Netherlands and one in the south of France, in Midi. I kind of felt like it would be a good exercise to sort of half way through the record actually play some shows because you can then, I guess, road-test the material,” Ma elaborates.
The final product, Howlin, was released in Australia this June, via Marathon Artists. The long-player showcases the pair’s diverse backgrounds – Ma was in a punk-disco band, Lost Valentinos, while Winterfield was part of the alternative indie quartet, Ghostwood. When asked if they had a greater vision for Howlin, Ma believes that’s something they’ve applied retrospectively.
“It’s romantic to say that it was this greater vision and a narrative, but I think in reality, if there is that sort of thing it’s subconscious, and sometimes it’s also something that is ambiguous and you apply later on, which I think we sort of did with this record. We kind of just wrote a whole bunch of songs, and worked on the music. I mean there’s cohesion, definitely, but it’s a crazy record,” Ma laughs.
Jagwar Ma touch down in Perth this Thursday, July 25 as part of a national jaunt that will see them perform a string of five shows as well as Splendour In The Grass.