Soaking it Up
Deep In The Heart of Texas with Jagwar Ma

Words by Cher Dunn

I had been dying to (date) meet Jagwar Ma since seeing their first show in Philly. I was obsessed with their debut album, Howlin, and seeing Jagwar Ma perform tracks from the album live was next level. It seemed as though everyone in the venue had transcended to another place, moving and grooving in their own little world that Jagwar Ma’s music took them to. When I was asked by The Waster to interview them at SXSW, my fingers could not move fast enough as I typed a resounding ‘yes’.

I am lucky enough to interview and meet a lot of bands, but for some reason, based on their music and stage presence, I had a dream in my head of how the boys of Jagwar Ma would be in real life, and I needed it to be true. If they were total assholes I was going to be devastated…I pictured them as nice, super chill dudes with a sense of humor…and luckily, before I even met them, I knew I was right.

The morning of our interview, their manager Carolyn asked me to push our time back because the boys were hungover. My friends and I were hungover as well, and I loved them a little more. I went to meet them at a magical place in Austin called Uncommon Objects. By this point of the week I had almost completely lost my voice, so sounding like a 70 year old smoker, I introduced myself to them. They were already super sweet and fun, picking a picturesque corner of the store then picking up their favorite uncommon objects around them.

I asked them how their SXSW was so far – “It’s been fun!” Jono Ma (guitar, beats, synths, production) sang out. I wondered if they got to see any bands they liked. “We saw Warpaint play last night,” Gabriel, (lead vocalist/guitarist) replied, “We kind of have just been soaking everything else up.”

Being from Australia, I had to ask the boys about the music scene there. They currently live in London, but they all chimed in bands they like from their homeland. “There’s loads of good music down there,” says Jono, he continues “Kieran J Callihan, from Sydney who’s a good friend of ours, he’s also playing SXSW”. “As are Splashh” says Jack (bass guitarist/vocalist). “Jonti,” continues Jono, “Gus!” Gabriel chimes in, “Angus Grisman.” “Dreems, but D double ‘e’ r, m, s” Jono spells out. “Black Vanilla,” Gabriel adds. “That’s it,” Jack calls it off, then adds “and us….if you count us”. “Tame Impala!” Jono adds quickly before we move on.

Knowing Jagwar Ma were busy with festivals this summer, I asked them which ones they were most looking forward to. “We’re pretty psyched on Coachella and Primavera…I’m not sure we were supposed to announce that but who cares.” Being one of their biggest fans, I needed the scoop on new music coming out this year. They admitted they were writing new music and were very coy when I asked them if they were releasing any new jams this year. “I don’t know!” Gabriel says as they all smile slyly, “It’s a secret”, Jono says.

They like living in London now, although they admit they are hardly ever there. “We were in Australia for two months over Christmas,” Jack says, “We went back for a week and a half after and then went on tour again”. They write music when they are on breaks but also bring equipment to try to record on the road. “I think you are always writing,” Gabriel says. I wonder what they listen to while on tour. “We listen to a lot of ‘Tim and Eric'”, Jono says with a big smile on his face, “yeah we listen to lots of comedy”. I ask if they get to explore a lot while on tour. “What..each other?” Gabriel questions. I don’t think there could have been a more hilarious response.

I asked if they had any crazy fan stories, Jono lights up with a huge smile, “We know you do!” I say, and he begins to tell the story. “We have one fan that messaged us through our personal Facebooks. She said in all caps that she was listening to “What Love” which is the first track on our album and crying,” he says laughing dramatically putting his hand in the air towards his face, “and it was really just intense,” he says covering his face with his hand. “She knew all of the items of clothing that we wore and stuff like that.” Gabriel chimes in “She’ll probably watch this interview!”. “We might need a bodyguard, honestly,” Jono says.

It’s easy to see why these boys would have so many megafans. The boys had us laughing the entire interview, they have the best personalities and make incredible music. I absolutely can not wait to drive across country with my best friend and see them play Coachella in some great company. I’m definitely going to take them exploring next time they come to Philly…you know, so they have a break from exploring each other.

Jagwar Ma just announced a limited edition 12″ picture disc vinyl release via Heavenly Recordings with British psych babes Temples! The limited 1000 copies of gorgeous vinyl designed by Oliver Hibert will drop on Record Store Day, Saturday April 19th!

-1 | Austin