We’re going to Spain and we’re taking... That is how everything started for Jaguar Jaguar just over six months ago, a radiant new and familiar sound on the national indie-pop firmament.
The destination was Empuriabrava, on the Costa Brava, the purpose undefined. The car was packed with instruments and studio material. They also took along a shared youth in Ten Aard, the back end of nowhere in the Kempen near Bobbejaanland, and a musical past in the trip-hop group Lohaus (and partly with Tamino, in Faces On TV and Soldier’s Heart). But more than anything, they shared a desire to make new music, far away from the daily grind. Also guitarist Emiel Raeymaekers’s girlfriend came along to film the story of the band’s foundation so that we would be able to watch the making of along with the very first musical recordings.
“The holiday atmosphere bubble is ideal for us,” singer-guitarist Thomas Lauwers says. “There was no pressure. Focusing on nothing but new songs for two weeks was very liberating. It gave us impulses that boosted our productivity.” That is palpable on Montjoi. The title of the four-track debut EP by Jaguar Jaguar refers to the bay where the band members recorded the sounds of the sea for their maiden song “Kind”. That song is also the soundtrack of the atmospheric mini documentary that Tina Herbots made about the retreat.
The Brussels-based Herbots used to be the resident photographer of the Ancienne Belgique, took photos of Bazart and Tsar B on tour, and created artwork for Charlotte “WWWater” Adigéry. Along with Raeymaekers, she came up with the band’s stylized look. You should definitely check out her colourful music videos that not so much illustrate but create a parallel universe for the band’s sound, which tends towards dreampop. “No, the yellow finfoots (from the music video for the catchy debut single ‘Tricks’, tp) were not filmed in Spanish waters, but in the Zilvermeer in Mol,” Jasper Segers laughs.
According to the bassist-producer with a past in Soldier’s Heart, the holiday destination primarily influenced the atmosphere of the electropop songs. “Though the sun doesn’t always shine in Empuriabrava. When I was young, I spent almost every Easter holiday in my grandmother’s old house that we rebuilt into a mini studio. The beach is very close, but with the Pyrenees nearby, the atmosphere can also be very ominous.” These ambiguous meteorological circumstances symbolize the group’s sound that combines radiant harmonizing with melancholy and mystery.
The beautiful blending of the voices and the catchiness of the songs are the band’s main assets. “Combine a low, an intermediate, and a high voice and a song instantly becomes much more powerful,” Lauwers explains. “That’s exactly what the Bee Gees did.” The next new single is already lined up to be released in March, this time the result of a trip to Portugal. The band were invited to a rock competition, which they won, so next summer they will appear onstage at a festival near Lisbon with Thom Yorke and Bon Iver.
“Lohaus is on hold, all eyes on Jaguar Jaguar,” Lauwers concludes. “Everybody is very excited. It would be daft not to seize the day.” So the only thing we are left wondering about is the origin of the band name. “It sounded exotic enough and it has a lot of potential visually. Don’t all good things come in pairs?”
> Jaguar Jaguar. 26/2, 20.00, Ancienne Belgique