Clash catches Gabs Winterfield, Jagwar Ma’s vocalist, at a bad time. “I’m just going to move away from the gas meter before it explodes,” he laughs, sounding more nervous than amused. Gabs, who alongside band mate Jono Ma has been on tour with Foals for the past weeks, has had a good year. The band’s latest single ‘The Throw’ has been picking up plaudits from all corners of the media and, despite having “been in a car for the last two hours,” Gabs sounds relaxed and upbeat.
Asked about ‘The Throw’ Gabs laughs. “Lyrically,” he admits, “it’s kind of stream of conscious. It’s the idea of believing the mirage, and just chasing that.” The track, a convocation of half-forgotten genres, demonstrates both their eclectic influences and talent for fusing disparate sounds into one coherent entity. There are swathes of baggy Madchester synth punctuated by ’80s hip-hop breaks and sudden, ecstatic moments of pop lucidity. This blend of styles comes from the band’s creative process, which is, Gabs confides, “really strange”. Despite their differing influences (Jono “electronic” and Gabs “pop and hip-hop”), they “work as one person”, fusing their disparate tastes into a remarkably cohesive whole. “The Jaguar thing is kind of funny,” Gabs confesses. “I guess it’s a bit of a totem; we like the animal, it’s kind of cool but,” he pauses, picking his words carefully, “it’s deeper than that. It represents both of us as one animal.”
This theme of unification is evident throughout their work. In the video for ‘The Throw’, which features Gabs dancing on a rooftop, there’s a moment at which Gabs’ relaxed dancing mutates into an orgy of flailing silhouettes. This dichotomy of perfect control and ecstatic chaos runs deep though Jagwar Ma’s veins. In each of their tracks there comes a point, although never easily identifiable, at which you sense something primal has taken over. Ma’s carefully constructed melodies devolve into trance-laden *rhythms while Gabs’ vocals become frantically shamanistic.
With an album release scheduled for May and festival slots already piling up expect to hear more from these intriguing Australians very soon.
Words by :ROB KNAGGS
Photography: NEIL BEDFORD
What: Psychedelic post-rave
Get 3 Songs: ‘The Throw’, ‘What Love’, ‘Come Save Me’
Unique Fact: The band played their first ever show in the Netherlands after being offered a slot through YouTube.