(Left to right: Jack Freeman, Jono Ma, myself, Gabriel Winterfield)
Recently I sat down with Gabriel Winterfield, lead vocalist and guitarist of Jagwar Ma, to learn more about the emerging Australian band and their transition to the American music scene.
Winterfield - while wearing his signature kangol bucket hat reminiscent of LL Cool J in his heyday - spoke about how excited the band was to be performing at Coachella this upcoming weekend.
“It’s been on our collective bucket lists as long as we’ve know about the festival.”
The band consisting of Winterfield, Jono Ma (on beats/synth) and Jack Freeman (on bass guitar and vocals), has played similarly large European music festivals in the past including Reading and Leeds, Glastonbury and Latitude, however Coachella will be Jagwar Mar’s biggest American show to date.
“I mean we’re super pumped, it should be a cool show…I think we’ll be prepared, but at the same time you just never know, do you, until you get there?”
Winterfield said he enjoys the band’s trips to the west coast, as cities like Los Angeles and San Diego make him feel at home, reminding him of Sydney, Australia where he grew up.
“There’s palm trees everywhere. And the beach culture is kind of similar, because I grew up on the beach in Sydney, so whenever I see that in another country I always feel quite nostalgic and am like ‘Alright cool.’
“I always get along really well with American crowds, it’s always a good vibe. Generally speaking I think American people are just so nice; they’re just really lovely people.”
And while the band knows the trip to California for Coachella is a huge opportunity to network, reach new fans and make connections, Winterfield said they’re simply focused on playing a good show and taking it all in.
“We don’t think about getting our brand out there or anything like that kind of stuff. We don’t network. We love chatting with people, things happen really organically. Like Jono [Ma] did a session with Earl [Sweatshirt] and King Krule in Sidney and that was just because we were hanging out with them.
“And then next thing I know, there’s this Pitchfork article about it and people are asking us like, ‘What did you record?’ Are you ever going to release it?’ I mean we did record some stuff but you know, it was kind of just pretty chill. You know, hanging out in the studio.”
Winterfield did admit it would be cool to “bro-down” with some of the other performers at Coachella, and see some of his favorite childhood artists on stage.
OutKast, who is starting their 20th anniversary reunion tour by headlining Coachella, was a huge part of Winterfield’s musical childhood.
“‘Ms. Jackson’ came out when I was about 11 or 12, and then “Hey Ya!” came out when I was like 13. I was too young to see them, so now I’m old enough to see them and it’s great they’re coming back. I’m super pumped about that.”
Winterfield has been pouring over the Coachella lineup and said he’s excited to see Flatbush ZOMBiES, who deliver a funny and cool vibe, as well as Blood Orange. He said he used to live around the corner from Devonté Hynes of Blood Orange, but had never actually seen him play live, so seeing him at Coachella will be well overdue.
In terms of Winterfield’s overall musical taste and inspiration, he said he’d listen to just about anything. Personally, he showed me a pretty diverse playlist he had just meshed together for his own enjoyment consisting of Aphex Twin, Wu-Tang Clan and Frank Sinatra.
And this diverse taste in music carried over into the making of Jagwar Ma’s only studio album Howlin’.
“We just sort of wanted to make music that we enjoy and I think the nature of the record, the sound that we produced on the record is diverse as far as the types of songs so that it gives us the ability to do what we want for the next one.”
When that next album will come out is still uncertain. Winterfield did admit he has been writing some bits and pieces when he can while on tour, but that he isn’t thinking too much about the next Jagwar Ma record just yet.
“When you think like that it can be quite, sort of toxic and the pressure and all that sort of stuff. So I mean I’m writing like folk songs and stuff, which is cool because it was with that same liberty and sort of relaxed nature that we went into with Howlin’ anyway. It was all very quite stylistically low-key.”
Winterfield said he’s hopeful some remixes will come out soon this year, while also releasing some new Jagwar Ma songs by the beginning of next year.
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